I love living in Duluth. In this moment, it is good that we are here. But lately we’ve been missing Boston hardcore. And I’m so glad we do. It means that despite any hardships we faced, we had a life worth missing.
Today, I’m thinking of St. Clement’s Shrine in downtown Boston on Boylston Street. I was visiting a friend at her work the other day and somehow the Oblates of the Virgin Mary came up in conversation. They are a phenomenally orthodox order of great & holy Priests, and they work so hard to make the sacraments accessible to all people of the faith in a city that seems to have no faith (perfect example: these men ran into the scenes of the Marathon bombings with sacramental oils, without hesitation).
I mentioned that they have a shrine in the Prudential Mall, and it was just then I realized how unusual that must sound to an outsider. Yes, St. Francis Chapel is in the mall, directly across from Ann Taylor Loft and next to Dunkin’ Donuts. And it is a pure oasis. Such a gift. They hear confessions all day every day, they offer Mass three times a day (Monday-Friday) as well as multiple weekend Masses. They have a little shop with Catholic books, DVD’s, holy cards, etc. All downtown at an intersection of many major T lines.
One of the main reasons Kevin chose to move to Boston for art school as opposed to his other options was the availability of sacraments. And when I think about it, I don’t know a place that can compare to what we had. I bring up St. Clement Shrine because it’s Lent and every Lent since graduating college I’ve spent most of my Lenten season in this Church.
For many years it was right on my commute to/from work. Their 7am Mass worked well for having to be at work around 8-8:30am. Their perpetual adoration meant the doors were always open to visit & sit with our Lord. Their Friday night stations of the cross were always done beautifully, making it worth few extra hours downtown. It was also the place where our young adult group was held (the same group I met Kevin through). No matter what time of day you were in the Shrine – this haven in the midst of Fenway Park, Berklee College of Music, the Prudential Mall, and Kenmore Square – you could always count on seeing a friendly face.
And then there is the Triduum. I’ll admit, it’s going to be tough not experiencing the Triduum at St. Clement’s. While a couple years I ended up elsewhere for the Easter Vigil due to plans with friends, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and much of Holy Saturday were spent in this sacred place. While the Catholic faith is the same everywhere (or at least we hope) and the Mass is still the Mass, I’ll miss entering into the Triduum with the Oblates. I’ll miss the solemn entrance they make on Good Friday, the procession to the upper room after the Liturgy, sitting in our Lord’s presence before emptiness takes His place, walking into the quiet Church on Saturday in anticipation for His return.
Ah, but alas. He does make all things new. So while I will treasure the memories and gifts from those experiences and traditions, I know they will continue on in that Church in unity with my new Parish. The greatness of the universal Church! And I do love our new Parish, so I look forward to participating in all the Lenten activities as well as the holy Triduum.
May your Lenten season be greatly blessed! And go rock those ashes 😉