Feast of the Sacred Heart at St. Louis Cathedral

It is so very hot as we hurriedly negotiate our way from the levee to the cathedral through a languid and aimless crowd of tourists.  Overhead a sky of pristine blue retreats before an ominous iron gray storm that moves quickly up the wide river.  We go to the church to pray but it will also offer relief from the damp heat that clings to the flesh with insistence of a wearied child.  We are ushered to our destination by a steady cooling breeze, which alleviates the swelter.  The breeze is a harbinger, it is promise of the anticipated relief that awaits us in the grand old cathedral.  One of a certain cast of mind might also say that inside one will find relief from the human spectacle on full display before the church, crowded, as it is, with an unsightly assortment of freaks, astrologers, and drunks.

Inside we do find an apparent harbor of tranquility from the cacophony outside, as Gregorian chant plays softly in the background.  But the spectacle is not content to remain outdoors but even finds its way into this sacred space, albeit in a different manner.  In the pews, two stately old dames are kneeling at prayer, all the while being orbited by a continuous line of tourists, looking upward, pointing here and there, posing for pictures and displaying varying degrees of irreverence not from any conscious malice but from ignorance of a long lost inheritance.  A certain cast of mind will look upon all this with a delicious cynicism.  But from deep inside wells up a profound sympathy for the common lot of those without and within this structure.   There comes a hopeful longing that the prayer of those two old dames might draw down some gathering embrace of divine mercy to envelope this kaleidoscopic pageant of misshaped humanity.

The storm is now upon us coming down in a torrent.  Let it come down, even to the battering in of these old doors that the Grace contained therein might flow out in a violent gush, like blood from a ragged man’s wounded side, to stream out and submerge us all.

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