Friday, January 06, 2006

Visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

My wife and I toured the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception down in Washington, DC yesterday --- after living in the area for only eight years. As I assume pretty much everyone will tell you, we found it very, very impressive and I'm now sorry we waited so long. There are two main church areas, the Crypt church on the lower level, finished in the 1920s, and the main church on the upper level, finished in 1959. The Great Depression and the Second World War impacted the finances required for the project and delayed completion. On the other hand, as the tour guide pointed out, it took 500 years to complete Notre Dame Cathedral in France, so, relatively speaking, this wasn't too bad! There are many, many individual chapels and shrines within the building to commemorate the home countries of Catholic immigrants to the United States. This, apparently, was one of the primary interests expressed by the bishop who originally began the process of building. For example, there is a Lourdes chapel and a chapel for Our Lady of Guadalupe. This site, colocated with the Catholic University of America campus, is beautiful and impressive and is highly recommended, even if you aren't Catholic. And, if you are, you'll take a lot of pride in seeing what has been built here in the name of our 2000-year religion. Maybe someday we'll travel to Rome to see the greater part of our history.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see a lot of material published by EWTN in the gift shop and book store. A flat panel television tuned to EWTN was also set up near the information booth. At the moment that we arrived, about a quarter to one in the afternoon, Fr. Francis Mary, MFVA, was saying that particular part of the televised Mass in Latin. However tenuous my reasoning or wishful my thinking, I view these things, occuring deep in Cardinal McCarrick's stomping grounds, as another sign that maybe orthodox Catholicism is gradually coming back in this country, in concert with the expressed goals of Vatican II and and opposed to that spurious "spirit of Vatican II". As we left the parking lot (and almost got lost) we passed the headquarters building of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. I leave that sight unremarked upon in this posting...

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