As I drove up to this church on a busy corner at 8:00am on Saturday, I noticed the doors first; big, wooden ones with metal bumps on them. Kind of bold, but something about them was comforting, in a church kind of way.
Upon entering I noticed the barren walls except for the stations of the cross, the wood panels to either side of the alter, and the stained glass windows placed high up on the walls. The walls below were white, cinder block-like, without decorations. It was a traditional and conservative looking parish. Somehow it was different from so many of the other churches, yet all of them are familiar in some ways.
One woman kind of snapped at another because “her flowers were taken away from the altar”. Another woman walked by me with a quick smile, probably wondering why she had never seen me at church before, and headed to the altar to rearrange the readings or fix the candle or something. I sat there, watching, without recognizing anyone and wondered if these people came just every Saturday at 8:00 am or every weekday as well at 7:30am. The big sign outside had posted the hours for all.
During the Mass, it felt like I was just going through the motions. It felt like that for everyone by the look on their faces. No one looked very connected, in fact, everyone looked very individual.
It struck me that the name of the church seemed kind of serious “HOLY NAME OF JESUS”….and so did everyone in it!
On the other hand, though, there was something soothing about being at peace, alone with some strangers, in a big, non-glitzy church on a Saturday morning. It felt “stripped down” in a way. It felt peaceful without the distractions. It felt soothing knowing the rhythm of the Mass, the cadence of its parts, that would flow into the familiar and comfortable patterns we all know as “church”.