“Summer is the tourist’s season. Imagine taking a tour of the White House. There is that surreal feeling of walking through the corridors of such an important building, where so much has happened. And then, at the climax of the tour, you enter the Oval Office. There, the tour guide comments on the history of the room and its current appearance. Visitors ooh and ah, snapping photos and selfies.
However, sitting there in the Oval Office, behind the desk, is the President. For some strange reason, the tour guide does not mention him, and following suit, most visitors hardly even notice him. Perhaps a few devoutly patriotic visitors offer a polite “good afternoon, Mr. President.” But besides such niceties, there is no fuss about the President. People are more enthralled by the room than the man.
A similar scenario plays out in many Catholic churches. Most tours focus on architecture and artwork. “Look at these gothic arches.” “What beautiful stained glass!” All the while, the King of the Universe, the unmatched Lover of every heart is present—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—awaiting each guest in the Eucharist. Sure, the pious visitors will genuflect or bow, but even these gestures are often perfunctory.
Art has an inherent value, worthy of receiving the tour’s appreciation. And it is a blessing to have a church worthy of such a tour. Even more, the beauty of the church helps to manifest the beauty of the Eucharist. Good artwork tells the story of God’s love for us, and good architecture calls forth the reverence due to the Eucharist.
Yet the irony remains. For a brief period of time, we get more excited about the wrapping paper than the gift.
Our response should be quite simple: “You are my God; I thirst for You.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP