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Brief Catholic Aside

12:31 PM, Jun 22, 2009 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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A common complaint among Catholics is the lack of mystery and sense of awe when it comes to mass. Between the modern style of the church itself, the New Dawn music ("Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust!"), and the bright lights, mass can become downright pedestrian. This has led some priests to take action: Dim the lights, add more candles, break out the incense. But there is only so much one can do.

I thought about other ways a church can revive that sense of awe and mystery as I sat through a mass at the Church of St. Thomas in the Malastranska neighborhood of Prague. (I'm here under the auspices of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and will report on the latest on Iran after meeting the hardworking folks at Radio Farda in a few minutes.) But looking around, I realized no parish would have the money to build golden altars and tabernacles and paintings on the ceiling. But there is one thing I noticed that any church could do and would go a long way to restoring that sense of wonderment:

Glass coffins. You heard me. I noticed two such coffins prominently displayed at St. Thomas. Inside were the bodies of holy men draped in period clothing (I was unable to find out their identities). You couldn't see actual flesh and bone (or most likely bone) because they were covered from head to toe. Each wore a face mask (one had faded to almost black, the other was gold-colored and reminded me of Destro). I found myself staring at both of these men the entire time. So why can't we have more glass coffins at our local churches? And when you bring the kids (as David Skinner recently wrote about in THE WEEKLY STANDARD), you could sit them right in front of these bodies (the ones in St. Thomas were posed on their sides, so they are facing you). I guarantee your children won't be a disruption at mass anymore. (Well, maybe except for their screams of terror.)