Friday, June 17, 2011

Ominous Signs, Bad Statuary and Other Rambling Thoughts

For months, I have been meaning to get to the rectory office of a neighboring church which has a perpetual adoration chapel.  For a small fee and the promise of handing over your first-born child (just kidding) you receive an entry key for the chapel so you can visit the Lord any time you wish.  Since I had some time off today, I decided to finally get around to doing this.  I'm going to love it, I know.  More about the chapel in a bit.

Anyway, the weather is on the iffy side.  No rain, but high humidity and a lot of clouds, although the sky is blue and the clouds are white, not dark.  I was about half-way home when out of nowhere, I heard a very loud rumbling of thunder which was a bit incongruous with the appearance of the sky.  In such high humidity, I really wasn't surprised.  But just as I heard the thunder, I happened to catch sight of a statue in the window of the home I was passing.  It was the Angel Gabriel.  In one hand was his trumpet, which he had to his lips, while the other hand pointed downward.  Downward?  Yikes!  If I'm going to walk past the Angel Gabriel during a loud clap of thunder, I would feel so much better if his finger was pointing  upward.

South Philadelphia is a very interesting neighborhood.  The older folks are known for their statuary of Jesus, The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.  Occasionally, St. Rita or St. Therese will make an appearance.  Right after I passed the house with the Angel Gabriel, I came to another with a statue of the Infant of Prague in the window.  Between Gabriel with his finger pointing downward and this, I started to feel like I was in a bad movie about the demonic.  The face of the Infant was distorted.  One eye was red and looked like something from a horror show.  Could the owner not know how terrible this looked?  Displaying our faith is a good thing, but just like we would never fly an American flag that was tattered or torn, nor should we display distorted images of Jesus and the saints.

One day, a local artist who is renowned for his beautiful bronze representations of the saints, was visiting the gift shop of a shrine a few blocks from here.  He was clearly not pleased with the statuary on display, most of which was made in China.  "Look at this" he said in disgust, pointing at a particularly horrifying image of St. Padre Pio.  "What's this supposed to be? Bela Lugosi Pio?"  It was all I could do not to laugh, but he was right.  When did our images of the saints come to closely resemble bad knock-offs of Barbie dolls?

About this little chapel.. It's called the Little Flower Perpetual Adoration Chapel.  Inside are maybe five short wooden pews with kneelers.  They face a small altar on which sits the Monstrance encased in locked Plexiglas.  There is a veil over the Plexiglas which is to be removed when an adorer is present and replaced upon leaving.  Two sanctuary-type candles burn, one on either side of the Monstrance.  A mosaic of angels in adoration adorns the wall behind the monstrance.  There is a beautiful large crucifix with Corpus, and a statue of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Fatima.  It's dead quiet and very conducive to prayer.  I am so happy to know that when I feel that familiar longing or yearning, I need not fret that the doors of my church are locked.  I can walk or drive down to this little chapel and tell the Lord all I wish to say to Him. Or I can simply sit in His Presence and keep Him company.

I had a little chat with a priest that I know from another parish today.  I asked him to pray for one of my intentions and then I "confessed" to him that I have no patience to wait for the Lord to give me an answer.  He had an interesting take on this. "Then don't just wait, "he said, "ask Jesus to get moving.  Politely, of course, but ask.   He expects you to ask."

We talked a little more about impatience and he made me laugh with something that I have never heard said of Our Lord before.  He said he thinks it was "typical of Jewish males" when Jesus would throw up His hands and ask of the apostles:  "How long must I endure you?"  I think the point he was trying to make is that even Our Lord could get a little impatient at times.

A few months ago, I told you about a woman  who lives such a rough life, trying to bring her sons up in a housing project, alone on her small income.  I found her crying alone in a corner yesterday and I was so worried that something else in her life had gone wrong.

"What is it dear, is it your son?  Is everything OK?"

She put her arm around me and said "Miss Joyce, I don't want you to leave."

She may as well have driven a stake through my heart.  I wish I could take them all with me, really I do. I wish I had the fortitude to stick out it for their sake, but I have to save my strength for other things in life.  The best I can do is do my best for them while I'm with them so that hopefully, the little things I've done to make a difference for them will stay in place, at least until the next sucker walks in the door.

Thanks for listening.


  1. "Miss Joyce, I don't want you to leave."

    Does this mean you made your job decision? Maybe I missed your post on it?

  2. No, not yet. I haven't said anything to anyone there about leaving but I think the staff is so accustomed to my position being a revolving door that it's always on their minds. They've been asking if I'm leaving since Day One.

  3. Good post Joyce. Good humour also.

  4. What a beautiful post and blog. Thank you for sharing. We too are kind of ridiculously blessed with a 24/7 adoration chapel about 1 mile up the road from us with a lockbox on the door. I so appreciate you sharing what the priest suggested about asking more insistently. That has been on my heart too.


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