Radiating beauty ‘grace upon grace’

Holy Name Parish’s dedication of new altar and renovation lead faithful into deeper worship

The paintings, the colors, the sounds and aroma… everything plays its role in the harmony of a church, the beautiful and holy place capable of lifting soul and body to worship the true God wholeheartedly.

Who said liturgical beauty belonged to cathedrals of centuries past?

Holy Name’s renovation and dedication of its new altar, at the hand of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila May 19, has the goal of bringing the faithful to a “glimpse of heaven on earth,” as Pope Benedict XVI insisted, saying that beauty was not “mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.”

“[The renovation is] first and foremost for the glorification of God,” said Father Daniel Cardó, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Denver and member of the Sodalitium of Christian Life. “The whole idea is about how we can love God more, how we can worship in a better way, how we can adore him with even greater reverence.”

Sheridan, Colorado – Dedication of the Altar and blessing of Holy Name Parish celebrated by Most Reverend Samuel J Aquila May 19 (photos by Andrew Wright)

After remodeling the parish hall and offices with the purpose evangelization, formation and spiritual direction, Father Cardó and some parishioners knew that they could do more.

“We were feeling the next step was to beautify our Church, not because it was bad, but because we could benefit from even a better process of beautification and some improvements that ultimately would help us glorify God more and more,” he said.

In gratitude for the abundance of blessings the parish has received through its faithful parishioners in its more than 100 years, the pastor saw this project as a “grace upon grace,” understanding that there is always room for greater love and piety.

“This is possible thanks to the generosity of parishioners,” Father Cardó said. “It was a long process of discernment with [them] and with the architects from Intervention Design Group, who are very, very good.”

Inspired in part by the parish’s existing architectural tradition and the use of colors and patterns by the 19th-century British architect Augustus Pugin, the renovation of the sanctuary, floor, baptistry and other elements at Holy Name Parish serves the purpose of evangelizing through the senses by leading the faithful more deeply into the mystery of the Liturgy – a tradition greatly treasured by the Church.

Knowing about the project, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, wrote a unique letter to Father Cardó and the parish community saying, “How beautiful [the dedication] must be, knowing your love for the liturgy!… invoking Almighty God’s blessing upon you and the entire community of Holy Name, especially as you worship the Lord with even greater reverence in your remodeled church.”

After months of celebrating Mass at the renewed parish hall, parishioners awaited with “excitement” and “great expectation” the Dedication of the new Altar and the blessing of the renovated church.

Here are some of the church’s remodeled elements and their meaning:

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Altar: Made out of marble, the “simple, yet beautiful” altar will contain relics of six great Catholic saints, who will intercede for the parish: St. Augustine, Francis Xavier, Vincent de Paul, Therese of Lisieux, Maria Goretti and Pius X.

 

Chancel area: The blue and red are taken from the

(photo by Andrew Wright)

beautiful Crucifix of Jesus High Priest, which highlights that the sacraments come from the Cross. The background includes the symbols “HIS,” which is the Holy Name of Jesus, along with garden elements, as a reminder that the Liturgy is a renewed Paradise.

 

 

Ceiling: The ceiling of the chancel area and the four panels on top of the altar are blue and contain crosses.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

This serves as a reminder that a church on earth is the house of God and that through the Liturgy, we are in touch with the heavenly reality, participating in the Liturgy of Heaven. The “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” also reflects this truth, signaling where Jesus becomes present.

 

Bricks: This solid material connects the whole church, outlining its unity and the unity of the people of God.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

It allows for the sanctuary to feel renovated but not foreign to the structure of the whole church.

 

Threshold: The threshold from the nave to the sanctuary points to their unity and continuity, but also to the distinction between them. The sanctuary is the Holy of Holy’s, so it is distinguished from the rest of the Church through this symbol and others, such as the marble and tile.

 

 

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Floor: The new floor contains symbolic elements – crosses and diamonds – which give the Church a sense of direction, pointing to the presence of Christ in the sanctuary. It also gives visual unity to the building, connecting altar, crucifix and tabernacle.

 

 

 

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

Tiles: Three unique tiles will be placed in the Church: the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the back, the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the middle and the Trinity in the front. This explains that from Mary we go to Jesus and, through Jesus, to the mystery of God.

 

Steps: The verse “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bend” is divided and painted on the three steps. Although this may not be visible from the back, a church must communicate symbolically, and some elements are meant to reveal themselves the closer a person approaches them.

 

Baptistery: Positioned in the back and to the side, the new baptistery allows for a procession to the altar.

(Photo by Andrew Wright)

It has a blue ceiling, because there we become children of God, and octagons and crosses on the floor. The octagon symbolized the eight day, the New Creation through baptism, and the cross stresses the origin of baptism, which is the open side of Jesus.

 

COMING UP: Nothing about us without us

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

The slogan “Nothing about us without us” was used by Solidarity in the 1980s in Poland, borrowing a royal motto from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-second millennium. Then, it was expressed in Latin: Nihil de nobis sine nobis. Later, it appeared in Polish on the banners of 19th-century Poles fighting their country’s partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austria: Nic o Nas bez Nas. Today, it’s often used by disability activists asserting their claim to be fully participant in society.

“Nothing about us without us” also applies to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which will meet in Rome in October.

That Synod will involve seven bishops’ conferences from nine Latin American countries who will consider their pastoral situation under the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.” As is usually the case in these meetings, the bishops at the Synod will work with materials drafted in Rome. Early indicators from the Synod’s preparatory document suggest that the Amazonian Synod will be longer on environmentalism than on theology. International media attention will doubtless focus on the Synod’s discussion of climate change and its relationship to Amazonian deforestation.

Recent synodal history suggests, however, that more will be afoot at the Amazonian Synod than what its announced theme suggests.

The 2014 and 2015 Synods were called to consider the crisis of marriage and the family throughout the world. Yet they became the occasion for powerful churchmen to try to deconstruct Catholic moral theology and sacramental discipline, according to the tried-and-failed theologies and pastoral practices of the 1970s. The 2018 Synod, summoned to discuss youth ministry and vocational discernment, began with an effort by the Synod general secretariat to enshrine the world’s language of sexual plasticity (and the lame understandings of happiness that underwrite that language) into an official Church document. When that failed, Synod-2018 became the occasion for the Synod general secretariat to promote an ill-defined notion of “synodality” that struck more than a few bishops present as a prescription for local-option, choose-your-own-doctrine Catholicism on the model of the (imploding) Anglican Communion.

This pattern seems likely to continue at the Amazonian Synod. There, the deeper agenda will be the ordination of mature married men — viri probati — to the priesthood. Proponents will argue that this dramatic change in the Church’s longstanding tradition of a celibate priesthood (which, contrary to much misinformation, antedates the early Middle Ages by hundreds of years) is necessary because Amazonia is a Catholic area deprived of the Eucharist by a lack of priests. One hopes that the counterclaims — that Amazonia is mission territory requiring wholesale evangelization, and that Amazonia’s lack of priests reflects racial and class divisions in Latin American Catholicism that discourage priests of European pedigree from working with indigenous peoples — get a serious hearing.

Proponents of ordaining viri probati in Amazonia, including retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, have insisted that any such concession there would have no implications for the universal Church. That cannot be, however. Should the Amazonian Synod request the Pope to grant a dispensation from the discipline of celibacy for that region, and should he grant it, it will be just a matter of time before bishops conferences elsewhere — Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria come immediately to mind — make similar requests, citing pressing pastoral needs. On what ground would those requests be denied?

In a year-end interview with Vatican News, the Synod’s general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, insisted that the Amazonian Synod would not discuss environmental issues only, but would also confront “ecclesial themes” — and would do so in a way that Amazonia could be “a model for the whole world.”

We can be grateful to the cardinal for his candor in, however unintentionally, letting the celibacy cat out of the synodal bag. Any decision to ordain viri probati in Amazonia would inevitably have major consequences for the entire Church. A decision of this magnitude cannot be taken by an unrepresentative segment of the Church and then turned into a “model” for everyone else.

That is why the principle of “Nothing about us without us” must apply here. Whatever else “synodality” may mean, it surely must mean that decisions bearing on everyone should involve as broad a consultation and as global a reflection as possible. Bishops who agree should make their concerns known now, not after the Amazonian synod meets.

Featured image by Vatican Media | CNA