So I'm in St. Louis earlier this week and I find myself across the street from the Old Cathedral with a half-hour to myself. A nice opportunity to go spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the same church from which Fr. DeSmet and countless other Catholic missionaries departed to bring the Faith to the American West.
So I slip over there.
I tug on the door, and it's open. And I'm pleased to see that there's some semblance of order and tradition in the arrangement of the place. Some goofy stuff here and there (the ambo, for instance), but still an altar rail, and a central tabernacle, and a raised altar on which a traditional Mass could be celebrated...still obviously Catholic.
And so I'm rather settled in before the Real Presence there, and I'm midway through the mystery of the Presentation when this older, heavy-set woman in a sleeveless shirt comes wandering out of the sacristy, across the sanctuary, and kicks herself over the velvet rope spanning the central gap in the altar rail. She comes down to me and tells me (with maybe slightly more regard as she just showed our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament) that I'll have to go; she's locking up. I watched her waddle back to the Church and hold the door open waiting on me to leave (again with nary a glance at the tabernacle).
Somehow I bit my tongue, but now I wished I wouldn't have. HEY LADY, THAT AIN'T A BREADBOX YOU JUST WALKED BY, that's the Creator and the Saviour of the World, Who humbled Himself to become a creature. And you can't even humble yourself acknowledge His presence with even so much as a novus-ordo nod to the tabernacle?
Or perhaps, despite the burning sanctuary lamp, He wasn't there at all? Maybe she knows something I don't about the way the sacraments are "celebrated" there? If so, at least she didn't give Him any offense, and it really was just a fancy breadbox.
Argh. Once again I'm reminded of the state of the rest of the Church. God bless Archbishop Burke for trying to restore the Faith in St. Louis, but what regard can people have for the Church when they have no regard for her Founder? Especially people who apparently have some role to play in the upkeep of a holy place that's been designated Bascilica?
I'm not sure I could ever go back in the Old Cathedral now. Next time I'll find a full hour and drive down to St. Francis de Sales.