My family and I went to the Washington D.C. area on our vacation a few years ago. We had a blast seeing as many of the museums and memorials as we could. We took it all in, from the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia, to the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art on the Mall. We walked for miles, baked in the heat, or outran thunderstorms, depending on the weather. But what moved me the most was something unexpected that I discovered on Capitol Hill.
There was a lot to see. During this trip, we made good use of the D.C. Metro train system. We rode the Blue Line and the Orange Line, the Red, and the Yellow. One of the trip’s highlights was the tour of the Capitol Building which was arranged for us by the office of Senator Bob Corker from our state of Tennessee. Folks, arranging the tour through the office of one of your representatives isn’t the only way to fly, but it’s the best way. And it’s free, so make the phone call, because you will get the behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol that you won’t get by just showing up at the visitors center.
One of Senator Corker’s interns led us around. We got to ride the underground subway between the Senate’s Hart Office Building and the Capitol Building. Our intern, Wyatt was his name, answered all our questions to the best of his ability. As a dad, I also asked Wyatt, a student at Ole Miss, to explain to my kids how he wound up being an intern. Because there is nothing like learning the process of how that works either, if your child ever has the urge to pursue this course of action.
But for me, the neatest part of our experience on Capitol Hill wasn’t the tour of the Capitol Building. It wasn’t the time we spent sitting in the Senate gallery either. It wasn’t poking around in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, or craning our necks looking up at the portrait of George Washington on the ceiling of the rotunda. It wasn’t looking at all the statues of famous patriots, that the various states have given to be displayed there, like the statues of Sam Houston for Texas, John Sevier for Tennessee, or the one of Fr. Juniperro Serra, for California.
The neatest discovery I made on Capitol Hill was the fact that right behind the Senate Hart Office Building, and maybe a half a block down Second Street, there sits a little Catholic parishchurch called St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill. Take a look at the map and you can see the proximity of the parish church to the Capitol. The very idea this little parish is a skip away from the Capitol made me feel all warm inside.In the United States, there is no “state religion.” But knowing that there are Catholic parishes on Capitol Hill lets me sleep a lot easier at night. Because knowing that anyone working at the Capitol, be they Senators, or Representatives, legislative staff or janitors, is only a stone’s throw from a place of solace, reflection, and prayer provides me comfort. Just across the street is a place of healing, where Reconciliation is available daily. There is an oasis away from the hub-bub, the endless wrangling, the partisan fracas that ensues daily, and consumes so much of our own lives.
This sanctuary, where the Real Presence of Our Lord awaits those who seek Him, sits a few steps away from the Capitol. Guess what else? While St. Joseph’s is at 2nd & C, NE, near the Senate and the Supreme Court, but St. Peter’s (http://www.saintpetersdc.org/) is at 2nd & C, SE, on the House of Representatives side. And just a little further away from the Capitol building, in all four directions of the compass, you can find St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Holy Name, St. Aloysius, Holy Rosary, St. Mary, and St. Dominic.
So be advised, there are a host of Catholic parishes within walking distance of the Capitol in which folks can pray and receive the grace of the sacraments. The Mystical Body of Christ is right where He needs to be.
Thanks be to God.