Because This Is My Church

Back to morning mass today for the first time in ten days. And why not, when you worship in a church as beautiful as St. Mary Star of the Sea in Beverly?

I know there are many who look at the Catholic Church as wealthy and its real estate as a tragic waste of resources. Couldn’t all the money that went into building this church (100 years ago) and thousands of others have been better used to feed the poor?

Consider that each pane of stained glass, each star painted in gold leaf on the wall behind the altar was put there not to enrich some prelate but to praise God. An antiphon from morning prayer today asks us to consider praise as the proper sacrifice to God. By praising God in a church as beautiful as this, I momentarily disconnect from my selfishness and especially from my belief that I made myself, I control my life, I am in charge. For a few moments, I give up, I sacrifice this mistaken sense of myself as enlightened, powerful, right. And I can come into a state in which I am receptive to God’s will and to the true beauty and goodness of His creation. The poor in me, that quiet kernel of goodness in me and in you, my brother and sister, is fed.

Blessed are the poor who can worship in a church as beautiful as this.

[Thanks again to Adam DesRosiers for his beautiful photograph. Adam’s wife Jenn gave birth to their first child, Julian DesRosiers, last Thursday. Mother and son are doing fine, and Adam was last seen skipping down the street with a dazed look on his face.]

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • I have a cousin who is a Capuchin priest – he has worked with some of the poorest of the poor, and he resents it when "caring" Catholics try to hide beauty out of "solidarity" with the poor. The poor, says my cousin, do not want the Holy Eucharist in a wicker basket, and plain walls; they want to glorify God and honor him with "the best" of what they and the world have, not with the least. I envy you your beautiful church. Our parish looks like a living room, and it's about as inspiring.

  • Laura R.

    What a beautiful church! Indeed, in such a place we are lifted out of our limited perspective and helped to praise and glorify God, with our minds on Him, not on ourselves.

  • Two homes ago, I was a member of a parish with a stunningly beautiful church and a magnificent choir. Next, I was a member of a parish with a butt-ugly 70's bunker of a church and a magnificent choir. Now I am a member of a parish with an exquisite jewel of a church and wan, perfunctory music.I have come to the conclusion that for me, at least, the musical arts are more edifying than the visual. While I'd certainly love to have both, I'd chose an ugly church if somehow it would get me back to good music…(I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make, other than maybe to point out that it's good for all of us to realize that other people's aesthetic needs might be different than our own.)

  • And it was the poor, out of their poverty, who built such beautiful churches.

  • Anonymous

    Of course we all know that the first person to express concern that money was 'wasted' which could have been given to the poor, was Judas Iscariot. That is our first clue. There's another one, though. So many of the people complaining about beautiful churches are also socialists who see nothing wrong with spending money, not given voluntarily but extracted by force, for political monuments that glorify the State, or the Dear Leader, or whomever. Churches are 'common areas', and they can be beautified and enjoyed by people who could not afford such luxury in their own private homes. That practical argument can be understood by people for whom the spiritual dimension would be incomprehensible.I am having trouble logging in on Google, so I am the Anonymous Michael Adams. Agape.

  • I know this church! I've been to Mass a few times there but it's about a 45-minute drive for me to get there. I love Father Barnes. What a holy man.

  • Anonymous

    Itis strange that I happen to come to this site. I was raised in Beverly Massachusetts and went to St. Mary's several times with my husband about 45 years ago. I attended another church in town. Today many years later I am changing to Catholic. St. Mary's always was a beautiful Church. Someday I will get back to Massachusetts and I will make sure I visit St. Mary's for Mass.

  • Webster Bull

    So 45 years ago . . . Your pastor would have been Msgr Shields, and now-bishop D'Arcy was there as an assistant, or had just left. Today, we have a fantastic pastor, Fr. David Barnes, and an active diverse parish (lot of young people and families, many of the older Italians and Irish still active). Couldn't be a happier place. Please come back some day! And thanks for your comment.