View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sacred places

I'm reading Father Benedict Groeschel's Praying Constantly: Bringing Your Faith To Life as one of the positive things I'm doing for Lent.

One chapter deals with "Sacred Places for Prayer." He notes that "in certain places is is far easier to feel the presence of God, far easier to pray, than in others." These places can influence our prayer through our senses - hence statues, icons, stained glass windows, good music, beautiful vestments, the feel of rosary beads, the smell of incense and candle wax can all help us to sense God.

He also praises shrines, specifically mentioning the Auriesville Shrine. I've been there a couple of times. it is a moving place.

But my sacred paces tend to be closer to home.

My parish has a perpetual adoration chapel. I've been a frequent visitor to that little chapel, saying a rosary, reading, stopping in for a quick prayer while on my way to work or to home.

In our town there is also a chapel devoted to St. Padre Pio. It is full of statuary, paintings and other artwork, some of which was discarded when local churches "modernized," or that were deemed too old-fashioned or saccharine for some tastes. I find it a wonderful place to say a Rosary.

Just south of Rochester lies the Abbey of the Genesee, home of Monks Bread, and also of a beautiful stone and wood chapel. In the silence there, I feel close to God. Walking the grounds, listening to the birds, also turns my heart, mind and soul heavenward.

Less frequently, but at least once a year, the Good Looking One and I travel out Niagara Falls way to the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewsiton. The basilica is amazing. So are the grounds, with hundreds of statues dedicated to saints. It saddens me to see that the years - and Western New York's weather - have not been kind to the statues, some of which have broken fingers and hands. But still, strolling up and down the rows is an inspiring experience. It is inspiring not only because of the saints and their deeds, but also because of the great devotion so many people had to the saints.

Of course, most often I find my sacred place on a dawn-lighted street as I walk the dog and listen to the birds greet the day. The daily routine helps me to appreciate the changing seasons.

God is in all these places, and they all help my heart to sing.


Anonymous C said...


1:52 AM  
Anonymous Barb Schoeneberger said...

I made a little "altar" on a book shelf where I pray. Sacred is "set apart". It helps me when I pray to have Jesus and Mary in front of me.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Yes Barb - Father G. also mentioned that we can create our own sacred places. A rocking chair by a window where we always sit to pray and do spiritual reading can be a sacred place.

8:01 PM  

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