Catholicism in Washington, DC

In Catholic, Christianity on August 6, 2010 at 3:03 am

Last week, I was in our nation’s capital.  There weren’t many free hours until Saturday, when my wife and I set out mid-day to see as much as possible of the Church’s presence there.  A half-day is far too little time, but let me suggest some highlights, in the event you are visiting Washington this summer.

The 12:10 Mass at Old St. Patrick’s was our first stop.  This is the oldest Church in Washington, founded in 1794 for stonemasons who were working on federal buildings including the White House, a few block away. If you are downtown, walk over and have a look. Although mid-day Saturday Mass was relatively empty, the pastor was faithful about offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation for thirty minutes before Mass, and then spoke faithfully and well about St. Ignatius of Loyola.  He helped remind me of my connection to St. Ignatius through the books The Discernment of Spirits and Thirty Days.

Leaving St. Patrick’s, we drove to the Catholic University of America campus. CUA, as well as The Dominican House of Studies across the street, are both a bit quiet during the summer months.  However, that inactivity didn’t diminish our joy at visiting The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception!

I had driven past The Shrine on previous trips, but was not able to go in.  Having now done so, the Basilica is beyond words:  the chapels, the oratories, the majesty of the building itself, the mosaics, and more.  And when the organ began the prelude before Mass, you didn’t just hear the music; you felt it—it became part of you.  But the most wonderful part was to be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation there and then attend Vigil Mass.

Remember that these sacred spaces are part of our riches as Catholic Christians. They reflect the Incarnational basis and nature of our faith.  Fr. Dwight Longenecker just wrote a wonderful post on this topic—click here. Don’t miss the grace God gives us on our pilgrimages of faith, small and large.  They are an important part of Christianity Richly!

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