July 10, 2016
Some of our liturgical functions do not require the entire church: daily Masses, the Liturgy of the Hours, and smaller weddings and funerals. To allow a more intimate setting for these occasions, and also to prevent the waste of energy to light and air condition a large building for smaller events, our church was designed with two side areas: a Marian Shrine and a Daily Mass Chapel. As you can see from the watercolor drawing of the church interior (see above), both areas are contiguous with the main church, but it will be possible to install separate climate control devices, cutting our heating and cooling expenses.
Q. Why do Catholic churches usually have a devotional space for Mary?
A. “The symbolism by which a church building demonstrates Mary's place in the mystery of the Church is full of significance” (Bl. Pope Paul VI, Marialis cultus, 28). Mary’s “place in the mystery of the Church” is drawn from Scripture and the repeated affirmations of popes and councils throughout history. The fact that, next to a crucifix, the most common image in Catholic churches is that of Mary, points to her degree of importance as the “preeminent and … wholly unique member of the Church” (Lumen gentium, 53). We pray as we believe, and so, since Mary is indeed the holiest being after Christ Himself, she receives a corresponding degree of honor and devotion. Bl. Pope Paul VI went so far as to say that “every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord. [Devotions to Mary] have developed in harmonious subordination to the worship of Christ, and have gravitated towards this worship as to their natural and necessary point of reference” (Marialis cultus, Intro). The custom of placing a shrine to Mary on the right of the main altar (as we have done in our new church) beautifully expresses the words of the Second Vatican Council: Mary’s place in our church is the “highest after Christ and yet very close to us” (Lumen gentium, 54).