Bill, aka the Crazy Clock Guy, aka Hey You (tallguy) wrote,
Bill, aka the Crazy Clock Guy, aka Hey You

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Mass Appeal: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

I knew I was going to have to go to the office today, so I went to a church on the north side of Indianapolis. Well worth the trip.

January 13, The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Parish: Saint Luke the Evangelist
7575 Holliday Dr., E.
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Founded 1961
Number of families: 1,954
Church capacity: 800

Church architecture:
This is a relatively modern building, lacking any sort of grandeur. The exterior is really not worth mentioning, but here's a picture:

There are 4 sections of pews, turned at an angle so they all face the sanctuary. They’re not very comfortable, and too close together while kneeling (at least for my long legs). The side sections aren’t well lit. A glass and wood entrance in the back, stone walls on the sides, and a stucco wall in front, with what must me the worst, cheesiest crucifix. It’s doesn’t hang on the wall or in front of the wall, it’s PAINTED ON the wall! I’d expect something like that in a Protestant bookstore sign, not a focal point of a Catholic church. I wouldn’t call it hideous, but for crying out loud, Christ looks like a Dementor who had his hair done.

I’ve gone to daily Mass here a number of times. The daily Mass isn’t said in the main church, but in a small side chapel. The two were as different as night and day, and I suspect that the side chapel was actually a later addition to the main building. I definitely prefer it to the cave-like atmosphere of the main church (complete with wall paintings).
My ranking: 2 out of 5

The music:
I’ve heard worse, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen worse. There were about a dozen choir members, all in matching red robes with white and blue hood collars, and were positioned right at the front, to the left of the sanctuary. The musical selections didn’t start out bad, but they suffered from a surplus of talent. Let me explain: they were all good singers, and just about every one had a solo. There was no real unifying theme. There was also way too many instruments. A pipe organ; great. A piano; good. A flute; a little too Celine Dion, but still not totally out of place. But when someone broke out a wooden RECORDER, that’s where I throw a flag on the play. That’s about the point when they got a little too “folksy” for me. Hey, at least they didn’t have an acoustic guitar, otherwise I may need to do my Belushi impression.

Actually, one of the best musical accents to the Mass was the priest himself. He sang certain parts of the Mass, and while I wouldn’t want him to record a top 40 single, he still has a decent voice.
My ranking: 3 of 5

The priest:
Father Jonathan Meyer is a young priest (not yet 30 years old), and is one of the new breed of priests who have been ordained in the last ten years. They were raised in a era where Vatican II was the only game in town, and in a typical counter-revolutionary nature, rebelled against their upbringing by going to seminary in Rome and embracing a number of pre-Vat II traditions (incense, bells, cassock and alb, singing or chanting prayers where appropriate).

He is literally the poster boy for the archdiocese (he appeared in an ad campaign looking very much like Neo from the Matrix), and is also the head of the youth ministry, not to mention a member of a Catholic boy band (Alter Boyz). Even so, he’s not a particularly handsome man. He’s got a receding hairline (not like I’m one to talk), and a very heavy eyebrow ridge that makes him look somewhat like a Neantherdal, or perhaps like Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster. Still, looks aren’t everything, especially in a celibate priest.

I’ve attended daily Mass at St Luke’s before, and he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite priests. He says the Mass as reverently as anyone I’ve ever seen, and he has a wonderfully dramatic speaking voice. When he reads the Gospel, it’s not just reciting words from a page. He is really telling the story of Jesus in a way that gives you goose bumps.

He is also the first priest I've seen whose homily included visual aids! The topic was baptism, and at one point he held up various documents (college diploma, master’s degree, ordination by the archbishop). He then stated that when we die, none of these will mean anything when we stand before God in judgment. He then held up his baptism certificate, which was not very big or impressive compared to the others, and told us that this paper is the key to our salvation, as our baptism cleanses us from the stain of original sin. He spoke for about 20 minutes, twice as long as a good homily should be, but I probably could have listened to him for even longer. He was that engrossing and that inspiring.

He’s not part of the FSSP, but with the motu proprio, I would not be a bit surprised to see him saying the Latin Mass somewhere. He would be really well-suited for it.

Father Meyer is an excellent and well-liked priest, and he knows it. He's been in local papers a number of times, and definitely enjoys being in the spotlight. He is one of the rising stars of the archdiocese, and as long as his ego doesn’t get in the way or get too wrapped up in diocesan politics, I think he’s going to be one of the rallying points of the Church in the coming years.
My ranking: 4.5 of 5 (he loses half a point for ego, but I'm sure he will learn humility in time)

The liturgy:
Surprisingly good. Fr. Meyer chanted the opening prayers, and then because it was the Feast of the Baptism, he blessed us with holy water…and I mean, he really doused us! He also was very liberal in the use of incense; at one point, the smoke in the air reminded me of being at Gethsemani. The Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei were sung in a more-or-less traditional Novus Ordo style, and the Our Father was not just sung, but chanted a capella. And just to give the extra touch, they rang hand chimes during the consecration. Bells and smells…oh, goody!

It wasn’t perfect, though. The music took it down a peg or two,…aw, who am I kidding? Even with that junior-high recorder, it was still a really good Mass.
My ranking: 4 of 5.

Six altar servers, (4 boys, 2 girls) all of them high-school age or older. The vestments were beautiful, with lace albs.
One factor which was not a surprise, but was still a little strange: Two of my coworkers were at the Mass. I didn’t even know one of them was Catholic!

My overall ranking: 3.5 of 5.
Would I return: perhaps
This church is just down the road from my office, but it literally on the completely opposite side of town from where I live. I wouldn’t make a special trip to attend Mass here, but if I had to be at work later that day, I would consider going here first.
One thing is for certain: Father Meyer is wasted here. With his style and charisma, he should be in a church whose architecture and music can compliment his wonderful speaking and preaching. This ain't the place.
Tags: mass appeal
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