After the liturgies for Corpus Christi (June 2), the St. Margaret of Scotland worship space will move from the church to the hall below. The last project of our parish capital campaign involves shuttering the church so that scaffolding can go up through the nave. The ceiling will be refinished, loose plaster will be repaired, and the walls will get a new coat of paint. This work may take as long as three months.
So we are going underground for Mass – not to be clandestine about our worship, but to allow the workers to have uninterrupted access to the church interior. We could take the romantic approach and liken ourselves to the early Christians escaping hardship by retreating to the catacombs, but that would not be exactly accurate. Church historians tell us that before Christianity was legalized Christian places of worship were not only above ground but were often well known. Besides, the size and shape of the catacombs could not accommodate large gatherings.
We may find ourselves having to squeeze in a little on Sundays for Mass in our church hall. I am certain that the celebrations will feel more intimate, and maybe a bit less attractive. After all, the basement is not as pretty as our church above. Then again, it is another room in God’s house. Let’s put our minds and hearts to the effort and make these coming months to appreciate the unique opportunity we have to build community.