- The Church is the Body of Christ. It is people, members of the Body, living together, loving one another, sharing the great vision, a perspective that includes all of reality. It is a living culture, a vital thing.
- The Church is Fargo, North Dakota. Who would have expected that? The Church of St. Anne & Joachim, built only three years ago, is one of the most tremendous churches in North America (see photos below). It is filled with beautiful new stained glass - the kind I was told could not be made any more, as all craftsmen had lost the skill. It is filled with stunning mosaics of the Stations, with quotations etched in marble from Scripture, with statues and with beauty. The people of Fargo are sane and normal and Catholic. Fargo is what Ave Maria, Florida is trying to be. In Ave Maria it is a deliberate, artificial construct. In Fargo it has grown up naturally, the fruit of many years of having good solid orthodox bishops. Fargo shows us what the Catholic Church not only could be - but what it really is.
- The Church is sacrifice. It is a team of actors touring with the Theater of the Word Incorporated, enduring the hardships of life on the road, eating at the whim and by the generosity of others, giving their all to the dramatic arts for the sake of God and for the salvation of souls.
- The Church is Maria Romine, an actress who performed with me seven scripts in eight days while traveling in a car over 2,000 miles - all the while filled with joy and spreading joy.
- The Church is Emily Lunsford, who went "all in" for her performance of our pro-life play Sarah's Secret, and who, despite her own fears and the obstacles that are thrown in our path, offered everything she did both on stage and off to Our Lord and to Our Lady, with complete devotion and abandon.
- The Church is Dave Treadway, soon to be another Theater of the Word convert, an actor who fills his characters with great depth and passion and richness, for all of which he pays a price of inner searching, suffering and pain - all the while being kind and loving to everyone he meets.
- The Church is Timothy Quigley (about whose video series Ordinary I will soon write more), whose witness off stage meant as much to us as his witness on stage - which itself was Extra-Ordinary, this being Timothy's first tour with us, Timothy's play being put together with one in-person rehearsal the day before the show.
- The Church is the laughter and tears that God allows us to bring to our audiences.
- The Church is a long and grueling car ride home, beginning at 4:45 am - with a performance along the way in Blackwater, Missouri - punctuated by fog and a sunrise over the prairie, by Scripture Study,by the Rosary and by a late-night theological discussion at 70 miles-per-hour, ending with a 1:00 am arrival back home in St. Louis.
- The Church is Christ Incarnate - then and now. As much as we want to deny Him and tell ourselves that He'd never work in such a messy, confusing world as this one - as much as "God become flesh" still shocks and disturbs us - the Church is God Himself. The Church is Truth. The Church is Love.
- The Church is too big to be seen, but every now and then we catch a glimpse of it.
Some glimpses follow below.
|Yep. Me eating a bun. A glimpse of the Church in Action. This is what I look like when I'm not in costume.|
|Dave Treadway and Maria Romine at the Iron Horse Hotel in Blackwater, Missouri.|
|Maria in the dressing room angry at me for making fun of her. This is the first time she's been angry at me in seven years.|
|Shrine to St. Josephine Bakhita, Sts. Anne & Joachim Church, Fargo, North Dakota|
|St. Josephine Bahkita|
|The Nave of the Church.|
|The first virtue you meet, in the floor tiles at the entrance to the church.|
|Prairie, Sky, Church - Fargo, ND.|
|Detail of the glass, Sts. Anne & Joachim Catholic Church.|
|View of the altar.|
|Baptism of Our Lord - detail.|
|Adam and Eve - detail.|
|The Garden of Eden, left / the Baptism of Our Lord, right. Generation and Re-generation.|
|Detail of a statue of Bl. John Paul II - the chapel at Shanley High School, Fargo.|
|The path of virtues leading to the altar and tabernacle.|
|Left to right: Maria Romine, Emily Lunsford, Dave Treadway, Kevin O'Brien, Timothy Quigley|
|This, by the way, is also the Catholic Church. Left to right: Treadway, Quigley, O'Brien.|
|Emily and the kneeling John Paul.|
“One thing in this world is different from all other things. It has a personality and a force. It is recognized and (when recognized) most violently loved or hated. It is the Catholic Church. Within that household the human spirit has roof and hearth. Outside it, is the night.”
-Hilaire Belloc, Essays of a Catholic