I bowed, made the sign of the Cross and sat in the third pew I watched as tourists marched in clanking the door handles, talking loudly and allowing children to run back and forth, showing no reverence for a Holy Place.
I thought, “if they only knew that Jesus is here”.
But not long ago, I didn’t know. I remember the last time I was here, bringing a guest speaker of our then Protestant church on a tour of historic sites in Tucson. We strolled around viewing what I then thought were relics of the past and an old religious system. “How advanced we are….”, I once thought. “How we’ve grown in our understanding of God…”, I once told myself as I too once walked past men and women seated, crying in this place. I once looked in pity on those who held value in a ‘place’ as being Holy, but truly it was in arrogance.
But now, as a catechumen, I sit pondering on what’s in that little box in the back, behind the altar, for it is the bread come down from Heaven.
And my wife, with tear filled eyes begins to tell me, “you know, this is the very church where my grandfather walked in on his knees and backwards out on his knees, pleading with the Lord to bring him back alive from the war in Germany he was being sent to fight.”
I had forgotten.
But as I gazed around this Holy Place, I wondered how many pious and Holy prayers had been prayed in this place. How much love and labor had been put into every brush stroke. How badly the founding priests wanted the natives to be converted to the Way of Love, the way of Jesus.
As the people walked by nonchalantly, I wondered at how many of our forefathers lived peaceably and lovely in the catholic faith. I thought about families, weddings, care for the elderly, care for the orphan. All of it was all over the walls of this place!
And the crucifix hung in its rightful spot; the center of it all!
This is a Holy Place! It hasn’t changed since last time I was here, but it is so much more beautiful!
But I’ve changed, and I’m changing. The Lord Jesus is teaching me what is beautiful.