Friday, April 18, 2008

God's goodie bag

So there's a cathedral right down the block from my place of work, and I've been meaning to sneak over there and pick up some holy water for a long time. It makes me feel a little self-conscious to just go over there with my plastic grotto water bottle and help myself: like it would be that scene in The Lost Boys when they bust into the baptism.

But yesterday, something was accidentally dropped off at my place of work that belonged to the cathedral (thank goodness some people are labelers!), and I had a reasonable pretext for paying a visit.

First thing: they knew what they were doing with those imposing doors, especially after you've gone up their big steps. I felt like a puny dwarf looking up at what I was opening. But I brazened in.

Unfortunately, the main doors to the sanctuary were all closed, and I could faintly hear muffled voices coming from somewhere. I didn't want to interrupt some kind of actual service, so I figured it would be a recon mission. There was a sort of alcove, or lobby, with a small font, some bulletin boards, music CDs for sale, and then a side room full of literature and stuff that appeared to be free. Like the gift shop. I picked up a booklet of prayers and a plastic baggie containing a glow-in-the-dark rosary. Score!

But I still hadn't figured out where the office was. The buildings on either side are residential (the Bishop has a pretty nice-looking pad, I must say), but there had to be an office somewhere.
So I went back outside. Around the side of the building I found another door that was open, so I went inside. That led to the elevator, and what was obviously an extra entrance to the sanctuary, judging by the No Cell Phone signs. Plus stairwells going up and down. I could hear voices in the basement, so that's where I went.

Both the stairwell and the basement itself contained multiple photocopied signs reading "Adoration Has Been Moved Upstairs." Glancing in the basement (I guess church basements all look alike, cathedral or not), I spotted the priest in conversation with a custodial person, so I apologized for interrupting and asked where the office was.

The priest referred me to the building on the exact opposite side of the block, so I went over there. It was turning out to be quite a quest. An old school building, with "Parish Church Office" written over the door. And this kills me: unlike an insurance agency or other random office in my Obscure Midwestern Town, it was a security building. I had to press a buzzer, and then holler my business into a little speaker in order to communicate with anyone. They buzzed me in and then came out to meet me.

The person I talked to was very appreciative about my running this errand. And I don't mean to be churlish. I understand that times have changed and that people are afraid. I try to be compassionate. But as I strolled back to work, on a lovely spring day, it occurred to me that I work in a place that's open to everyone, morning to night. Lost souls who just want someone to talk to or a place to be, people who have nowhere else to go (both metaphorically and/or literally), can come in from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. And we will actually welcome them. I think we're more of a ministry than the church.

Makes me kind of wish I'd picked up an extra rosary for my trouble, though.

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