Saints Peter and Paul held their second town meeting on the restoration of the Church, an element of Pass It On, on the evening of December 11, 2014, the plans for our parish church sanctuary restoration were presented and explained in detail. Dr. Denis McNamara, internationally renowned authority on Sacred Architecture, gave a presentation on the meaning and symbolism of Sacred Architecture, which helps us to understand the meaning and purpose of sacred architecture and the project before us. PLEASE WATCH THE FULL PRESENTATION BY CLICKING ON THE WINDOW BELOW.
A small portion of Pass It On funds (less than 8%) was allocated to this restoration. We have already seen a portion of this restoration in the reredos behind the high altar, which was restored to it’s original wood finish in August 2014.
Restoration Project Booklet
A booklet explaining the meaning of the restoration of our parish church is now available.To download this booklet in pdf format, please click on the button below.
The booklet is best used by printing it out and bringing it with you to church so that you can read it as you look at the restoration.
Please notice that a printed version of this booklet will be stuffed in the bulletin on the weekend of Palm Sunday.
For further information on the restoration, please see the Question & Answer section below:
Q. Our parish church is already beautiful so why are you changing it?
A. Although these plans may seem to be a change to some, the reality is that this is not a renovation but a restoration. The most senior members of our parish community remember previous designs of our church as well as the original design of our parish church which contained the rich symbolism typical of gothic revival churches of which our church is a proud member.
Q. Why spend so much money during a time of economic downturn and while we are cutting our budget
in other areas?
A. The funds being used have already been raised primarily through “Pass It On” and this project was highlighted in those fundraising materials distributed three years ago. If the parish were to apply the funds being used to restore our parish church to our parish operating budget, the operating budget of the parish would increase only for a short time. We would only be pushing the need for a solution to our operating budget down the road. Besides, there were a large number of parishioners who gave to “Pass It On” knowing that this project was a small piece of “Pass It On.” This particular project represents less than 8% of the entire “Pass It On” funds. Every other major capital improvement from “Pass It On” has been completed.
The reality is that the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul built our parish church on the cusp of the Great Depression, because they wanted to give God not their leftovers but their very best. We have spent nearly $3 million dollars on roof, mortar, radiators and fire alarms. It is now time to give God the Glory!
Q. How long will this paint last?
A. Conrad Schmitt Studios reassures us that as long as the building is maintained well (as it has been up to this point with care for the roof and walls, etc.) and there is no catastrophic event like a tornado, flood or water infiltration, the paint will last 35‐40 years.
Q. How were these designs determined and who got to choose what they wanted?
A. Although a committee of parishioners was formed to assist with the decision‐making, we should explain that those who originally built and designed our parish church and were involved in the changes over the first fifty years of our parish church played the single largest role in the decision‐making process today. As explained in both presentations, we looked back at the appearance of our church in 1927 and various photos throughout her history. We read through the reasons for the changes made in 1985 as well as reviewed photos of our church as it appeared from the mid 1940’s through the late 1960’s. The design you see takes its lead from the original drawings of our parish church in 1927 with some elements from the 1968 photos. Finally, we consulted experts in Gothic Revival Architecture and Sacred Architecture in order to help us fill in the blanks. Ultimately the motivating factor in making the decisions for this restoration were not what this or that person “liked” or “did not like” but what the original intent was, what the design of our church means and how this would be best conveyed given our resources.
Q. Why are there angels in the apse? I like the orange ceiling.
A. Adorning a church is not the same as decorating a house except in one respect ‐ we ask the question: what is the purpose of this room? When adorning a church, however, we do not ask the question: what is my favorite color or what color do I like? The reason for this is that the adornments of our church communicate spiritual, theological, eternal and eschatological(1) meaning. The meaning of our Liturgy which had been lost for decades is being recaptured by contemporary scholars. One wrote: “The Mass‐‐and I mean every single Mass‐‐is heaven on earth… The Book of Revelation will show us the Mass as heaven on earth.”(2) Dr. McNamara explains this principle as it relates to Sacred Architecture: “The altar is not only a memorial of the table of the upper room of the Last Supper, but prefigures the radiant table of the Banquet of the Lamb at the end of time when all has been glorified and is radiant with the light of Christ… The cup is indeed a precious chalice even though it keeps a deep connection to the simple cup of Christ’s time on earth. Its sacramental role is to prefigure the glorious banquet of our heavenly future and be worthy, becoming, and beautiful by revealing a radiant flash of the transfigured heavenly perfection.” We find references to this Banquet of the Lamb throughout the New Testament and contemporary scholars are helping us to understand evermore the Mass at its role as the foretaste of the Banquet Feast of the Lamb in heaven at the end of time.
The truth is that this principle was not lost on those who designed our parish church and is reflected in her original design as well as some elements that still remain from that original design. Our parish church was designed to communicate the future reality of the new heavens and the new earth and the wedding feast of the Lamb of God which we find in the Book of Revelation. For example, the marble bas relief below the tabernacle depicting the Lamb of God seated on the book (scroll) with the seven seals from the Book of Revelation, the organic elements found on the high altar and in our beautiful windows, the four creatures on the front of our ambo, the glory of the saints found in the paintings on our church walls and in our windows, all demonstrate the point that our church was designed with the intent of communicating the eternal and eschatological(3) reality of the Eucharist. This intent of the designers of our parish church was also clearly seen in the angels which were originally painted in the apse of our parish church in 1927 (which were painted over decades ago) adoring the Lamb of God who is truly present on the altar below. The meaning of the Mass as the foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet Feast of the Lamb is even seen in the acclamation we sing before receiving Communion: “Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world…Have mercy on us!”
Hence, in the restoration plans for our church, we see the perfect blue sky with gold stars reflecting the Light of Christ and the angels adoring the Lamb of God whose image is present in marble bas relief below our tabernacle. The proscenium4 arch is painted in a way that should look familiar to us. The proscenium arch, once again, takes its lead from our predecessors in using the design of the exterior main door of our parish church and, not only reproducing this design, but completing or “perfecting” the design of the grape vines so that they group up and around the entire entryway to the sanctuary topped by a cross.
The side shrines of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph are adorned with the vines which symbolize the glorious Garden…the new earth in which all things are as they should be and were intended to be. The vines behind Mary adorned with white roses, symbols of her purity and her Immaculate Conception, recall the organic elements of the eschatological(5) garden at the end of time with her titles from the Litany of Loreto reminding us of her eternal identity as the Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Queen of Apostles, etc. These same “eternal” vines adorn themselves with Lilies which remind us of Saint Joseph’s purity and devotion exemplifying his virtues of purity, courage, fidelity and prudence ‐ the virtues which all men should emulate. What is most interesting is that the new life springing forth from the new earth shines most brightly in the reredos(6) of the high altar…in that dark stained wood the highlights in gold are organic elements of flowers and bulbs. Have you ever noticed that the gold highlights of the high altar…symbolize these plants of the new earth. This is a heavenly vision of these angels and saints.
Most profoundly is that all of these images of the new heavens and a new earth…even the marble Lamb of God are fixed upon the Lamb who is truly present on the altar in the Most Holy Eucharist. The angels and stars and vines that hover above and around the altar focus and remind us of the meaning of the Lamb of God present on the altar. They teach us who is truly present on the altar in the Eucharist. He is the eternal God living and true. Even the scripture quotations on the side walls written by our patron saints, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, recall the heavenly liturgy and teach who we worship…we do not worship ourselves…we worship the Lamb once slain who is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Finally, this is what God promises us. Come let us adore Him! What we are doing here is both new and old!
Q. Did not the Second Vatican Council teach that churches should not be ornamented and we should
not have all of this decorative painting?
A. The foremost authority on Sacred Architecture in the United States and perhaps the world, Dr. Denis McNamara, explains that the Vatican Council did not teach that churches should not be beautifully decorated responding clearly: “Nothing could be further from the truth.” On the contrary, the decoration of a church should be done with the highest regard for quality and emphasize the meaning and purpose of the Liturgy celebrated there. If we believed sincerely that our parish church should not be richly decorated (which most do not believe), then there is a great deal more that would need to be removed from our church in order to comply with that misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council.
Q. When will this restoration be done?
A. The painting of the sanctuary and cleaning of many of the marble elements will be done from January 5 through the end of February or the beginning of March. The church building will be open on the weekends for Sunday Mass but weekday Masses, funerals, confessions and prayer services (except Ash Wednesday and Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent) will be offered in the Holy Family Chapel during that time period.
Q. The design pictured includes the restoration of the gates to the communion rail, wooden screens
in the archways surrounding the high altar and some enhancements to the main altar are these
restorations being done in January‐ February 2015?
A. These elements of the project will not be accomplished in January and February of this year, because we do not have the money to accomplish these particular aspects of the project. These projects will only be accomplished if individual parishioners decide to make donations in order to have them accomplished.
(1) The term “eschatological” is an adjective referring to the study of that which comes at the “end” the “eschaton.” The glossary of terms provided in the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “eschatology” as referring “to the area of Christian faith which is concerned about ‘the last things,’ and the coming of Jesus on ‘the last day’: our human destiny, death, judgment, resurrection of the body, heaven, purgatory, and hell…” When we use the term “eschatological” in reference to the Mass, we are speaking of the fact that the Eucharist is the foretaste of the Banquet Feast of Heaven. Therefore, the images in a church should point our minds toward the end of time when God unites all things in Himself.
(2) Dr. Scott Hahn, “The Lamb’s Supper.”
(3) cf. Note #1.
(4) The large archway that supports the ceiling above the sanctuary.
(5) cf. Note #1.
(6) The large dark wooden structure behind the main altar which was restored in August.