National Catholic Register


Does Your Parish Tell a Story?

BY Matthew Warner

| Posted 12/10/10 at 7:26 PM


One of the beautiful things about our Catholic faith is that we are always surrounded by great, inspiring stories. Every stained glass window, statue, tradition, smell, picture and architectural detail tells a great story. There is purpose to every movement to the liturgy. There is meaning in every brush stroke and piece of glass.

The problem is that not many people know the meaning, purpose or story. And if you don’t know the meaning, purpose or story, then all of these beautiful things are reduced to a matter of taste. They like the the art based on how it looks with the carpet. Or the architecture based on how modern or in-style it looks.

We’ve lost our sense of one of the most beautiful dimensions to our Catholic Faith: Its story.  In the Catholic Church, a statue is never just a statue. A building layout is never just functional. A picture is never just aesthetic. But if people don’t know that, then it doesn’t do any good. And that’s a shame when this meaning, purpose and story is actually something that attracts many to the faith and inspires many more to stay in it.

Do you know the story of your parish?  And I don’t just mean the story of how you raised some funds and built a new building and hired so-and-so all that. I mean the story of why your baptismal font looks the way it does?  And is placed where it is placed? Or why there are (or aren’t) altar rails? Or why the tabernacle looks the way it does? Or why the saint on the wall is holding a flower? Or what the inscription on the altar means? Or why the building is laid out how it is? Or about the Saint your parish is named after?

This is all really neat stuff! It’s a great shame these treasures are rarely being shared! We don’t have to go to the Sistine Chapel to experience this dimension of the faith. It is all around you and you don’t even know it…buried in the familiarity of your everyday Catholic experience. I hope more pastors will take some time to tie in some of the story of their parish into their homilies and other activities in the parish. I think it would really help parishioners value their parish and their faith a whole lot more.

I started thinking about all of this after watching a new DVD/TV series called “The Faithful Traveler.”

The Faithful Traveler™ TV series takes you on a fun and faith-filled tour of amazing churches, shrines, and places of pilgrimage throughout the United States!

Join the show’s host, Diana von Glahn, as she explores the glories of the Catholic Church through the art, architecture, history and doctrine behind these inspiring sites.

I’ve watched the first few episodes already and have learned a lot!  Here’s a little preview: