"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
One such reader - agnostic - wondered what was so great about Catholicism, and didn't I think that God - if God exists - would be the same regardless of the existence of the Catholic Church, without its sacraments and its "beautiful marble buildings and stained glass windows? Wouldn't God be the same if you just went and worshiped somewhere else?"
I like the question.
Well, of course God would be the same. God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow.
We, perhaps, might not be the same…
One can heap scorn on the "marble buildings and stained glass windows" if one wants, but one should first recognize that those buildings and windows served an illiterate age both in the visual retelling of the gospels and traditional stories, and in their very awe-inspiring transcendence - the bit of "heaven on earth" a taste of the glory of God for a civilization lacking parity or charity.
Have they served their purpose and is it time to be done with them? Perhaps. But when my elder son was 16 he made a trip to Italy with his class, and he told me this: As he went through Italy the comment he heard from his friends, over and over, was that the ornate, ancient churches, in all of their extravagant beauty, were giving them a "sense of God" that they'd never encountered in their modern Catholic or Anglican or Presbyterian church buildings.
I'm just relating what he said, not opening a debate on ecclesiastical architecture.
Encountering God with all of our senses, including sight, smell, etc...it's a way to learn. What seems needless to some can still seem quite effective and even necessary to others, for we are not all the same; we have different needs, different ways of processing information, different ways of learning, teaching, etc. Take away all of those beautiful buildings, take away Mozart's Requiem and Bach's Mass in B minor and the Panis Angelicus, and yes, God is still the same, but we are not. #