I have written several posts this week about the brutal iconoclasm that took place in American Catholic churches over the last fifty years.
I was therefore delighted this afternoon to be taken on a tour of some central Missouri country churches where pastors and people are restoring beauty and dignity to their old churches.
The Diocese of Jefferson City is blessed with a large number of historic country Catholic Churches and Fr Jeremy Secrist drove me through the rolling farmland to visit a few.
I was delighted to hear the story of one parish where a pastor had put down the wall to wall carpet, ripped out the altarpieces and statues and installed a drop ceiling.
The people quietly kept their altarpieces in their barns and outbuildings and when that pastor had gone and a new pastor arrived who was interested in what had happened they got the altarpieces out, had them restored, got new statues and put everything back again.
Here is the church of Holy Family, Freeburg now.
Similar stories were told about the restoration of St Thomas Church in St Thomas, St Boniface, Koeltztown and Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain.
In each instance the churches were “re-ordered” by enthusiastic post Vatican II iconoclasts, but have been quietly, gently and professionally restored. Not only are the altarpieces and statues being put back, but in some cases new altarpieces are designed and built by local craftsmen. The sanctuaries are ordered for modern worship, but with a proper humility and respect to the tradition.
In fact similar stories were told five hundred years ago in England. After the depredations of the tyrant Henry VIII the parishioners kept the plate, hid the vestments, concealed the candlesticks and put their images away in barns. When Mary Tudor was crowned they brought them all back out again.
What is most galling about this arrogant iconoclasm is that it was usually done in the name of “the people” so “the people” could have worship that was “more relevant”. Funny how “the people” put up with such bullying and then restore what they love as soon as they get the chance.
Other notable churches in my afternoon tour were the delightful Romanesque church of Our Lady Help of Christians in Frankenstein and St Cecilia, Meta.
I’ll be posting more photos of these churches, but I would remind you that if you wish to see Catholic Churches brought back to reflect the beauty of our Catholic faith, then this takes courage, hard work and not a little expenditure.
Not only are our old churches being carefully restored across the country, but new churches are being built.
Have you donated yet to help us build the new church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville, South Carolina?
Many of you have, and we are very grateful for the help. We are in the final stages of our fund raising–attempting to raise $650K in new cash by the end of the year.
We’re making good progress, but we can use all the help we can get.
You can help by making an instant donation here. You can also help by sharing this post and others about our new church project.
If you would like to learn more about how you can make a substantial donation and link it to one of our naming opportunities contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This new church will be situated right on I-85. With a Shrine to the Divine Mercy in the Lower Church it will be a place of outreach and mission to many who pass by. When they see this church they will see immediately the truth, beauty and permanence of the Catholic faith in bricks and mortar.
Please think about making a substantial donation today.