The Strength of the Church

The joining of the rafters at St. John the Baptist Church in Newburgh, Indiana.

This past Monday, September 23, I attended Mass where the new altar of St. John the Baptist parish in Newburgh, Indiana was consecrated.

I’ve been to a few of these very special, very rare celebrations.  The parish has just finished a major renovation to their church, and it was an honor to be a part of this event.

During the consecration, the bishop removes his chasuble, dons an apron, then pours oil of chrism over the altar and rubs it in, then wipes off the excess.   There’s more to it than that, but you get the idea. A couple photos from the consecration are included with this post, and others can be seen here.

Something that caught my attention at the church was not at the altar, but rather in the ceiling. 

This big, round steel structure has a technical name, but I have no idea what that would be.  But as I looked at it, it occurred to me that the entire building depends on its strength and integrity.  There are no interior walls in the church, and the entire roof is supported by large beams, which all come together at this point.

If the steel structure fails, catastrophe would ensue.  The entire roof would come down, likely taking the walls with it.  The whole church would fall in on itself.

How appropriate, I thought, that a church is held together by one thing in the center.  Much like the Church is held together by one thing in the center – Jesus.

When Jesus is at the center of everything, we can withstand the rigors of the elements.  Nothing can come between us and his love for us.  When we put Jesus off to the side, or remove him altogether, we are weak, and catastrophic failure lies in wait.

I encourage you to visit St. John’s in Newburgh.  It’s a beautiful place built as a testament to the stewardship of the parishioners. 

Bishop Siegel pours Oil of Chrism on the new altar.
Spreading the oil to all sides of the altar.
Jesus is at the center of all.

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