Yesterday I wrote about one parish’s innovative and very Catholic approach to Vocation Bible School, and soon afterward I found that my own parish–actually just one parish north here in the Diocese of Arlington–had been featured recently on the mystery worship shopper website Ship of Fools.
It’s pretty rare to see an all-positive review of a parish on the website, but the mystery worshipper was apparently thoroughly pleased with her experience.
Particularly gratifying was the juxtaposition of elements that some would like to keep asunder: friendliness, concern for the poor, art, the pipe organ, and solid preaching.
You don’t need to have guitars to be friendly, if you have priests who take plenty of time after Mass to talk to everyone and get to know them. And in this parish, stained glass windows and hospitality for the homeless go hand in hand.
The photos accompanying the article are “before” photos that don’t take into account the recent sanctuary renovations, as documented on NLM a few years ago.
St. Mary’s is an old and pretty parish by American standards, and in a nice area, but the standards it sets for excellence are not governed by those circumstances. What is important here is having everything that is good and Catholic, all at the same time. There are those liturgical activists who would like to oppose concern for the poor against formality in worship, or friendliness against beauty, or welcoming against doctrine. That’s not at all necessary, and hasn’t been in the Catholic Church, ever.
We truly can have it all.