Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Once again, I decided to take advantage of some reasonably nice weather and roam the streets of a large city near where I live in search of a big, beautiful, old church. I wandered around for an hour and a half until I located just such a church. It certainly qualifies as "old" with its 1867 cornerstone. It definitely earns the "big" designation as it would probably be a cathedral in many smaller dioceses. Finally, it passes the "beautiful" test with flying colors. I doubt that I can do a church of this type justice in attempting to describe it-- it's going to sound not too much different from many of the others I've visited over the years. Nevertheless, I'll give it a shot.
This grand building is so well-designed that it has been able to resist some half-hearted attempts at renovation and modernization. A free-standing altar has been erected just in front of the original sanctuary, which is quite long and leads to the original high altar and metal tabernacle. The celebrant's chair is behind the altar. Seats for the choir line either side of the sanctuary, facing the center. At the right is a small cantor's lectern; at the left is a similar low ambo but over that at the end of a circular starircase is a balcony-style high ambo. About ten short sections of wooden pews have been turned to face the altar on either side (I doubt that they were this way originally). At the right is a large chapel where the choir assembled before Mass. To the far right of the right transept are some confessionals underneath a balcony of sorts (it looked closed today). Along the walls at the left seem to be catwalks. The stained-glass windows are high, narrow, and traditional. Latin inscriptions abound. In the rear is a huge choir loft and impressive pipe organ. I believe the organist served from the loft (as the choir no doubt once did).
The homily was fairly good. The priest began by noting that very few artistic depictions of the Blessed Mother show her pregnant. He then described one exception to this at a Dominican seminary; the ambo there has a statue of a pregnant Mary over it. He found this appropriate, because as Catholics we are pregnant with the Word of God and simply must give birth to it by proclaiming it to everyone, just as Mary proclaimed the Word by giving birth to Him.