29 February 2016

Another Victory for the Institute Way?

A lot of baseball fans dislike the St. Louis Cardinals.  Probably it is because they have won, often, in the last twenty years.  Oldsters like me remember when the Yankees won nearly every year.  Those who are (as my daughter says) "oldies oldier" also remember when the Yankees of other eras won nearly every year.  

So, that's one thing, but winning compounds what is a truism for every team and every set of fans:  there are certain quirks, parochialisms, and preset narratives that can be seen as either cute (if you're losing or just starting to win) or as annoying to the point of rage (if you are winning fairly regularly).  

Among these for Cardinals are the moniker "best fans in baseball", or BFIB (nod to the late, great Joe Strauss).  Somebody noted once that the Cardinals draw a lot of fans, win or lose, and that they seem as a group fairly knowledgeable about the nuances of the game.  Great.  But telling people they're great has never been, in my observation, a successful means of inducing humility. So, now we have this gag-inducing, locally promoted BFIB identity.  I can see how that would rub a fan of other teams the wrong way. There are knowledgeable and not-knowledgeable fans everywhere. No city has the market cornered on stupidity.

And lately, which is less the Cardinals' fault and more the national media's fault, we are stuck with the idea of the "Cardinal Way", as a substitute for "playing the game the right way" as in "the way oldsters played it before young people found out that fun was allowed in sports". In reality, the Cardinal Way began as a term to describe certain instructional methods and strategies in long-term player development.  But I digress.  Ask anyone outside of our fair town and they hate the Cardinals, their BFIB, and their "Way".

What does this have to do with the Institute? Well, nothing.  And something.

As I alluded to in my piece on the papal approval of the Institute's constitutions, the Institute is sometimes criticized for a perception that they are not as combative as they should be in fighting the fight against the destruction of the faith, or the promotion of all things traditional.  That they are just itching to compromise on something. Yet, they thrive in promoting all these things without leaving a large wake as they pass. They foster good relationships with the hierarchy of the Church, with bishops who support them and with bishops you would assume would be just as happy if they went away. This organizational attitude frustrates some.

Now, enter the news that the Archdiocese of Chicago has relented in their plans to demolish the Shrine of Christ the King and has deeded the church and the land to the Institute.  How did that happen?  Without assigning blame or praise, it was fairly clear that the Institute didn't want it demolished, and that the Archdiocese did.  And we know the Institute never makes waves, right?

So, without any public criticism of the Archdiocese, also without undercutting the efforts of the group of faithful donors who wanted to act, the Institute quietly went about its business.  

And the Shrine is now theirs, and restoration will be attempted after all.

Think of it as the Institute Way. But really, it's just the Salesian Way.  Truth, charity, trust in Providence.  Voila.  

This is just my take. I don't speak for the Institute, as you know. But I'll give them credit on this one, because I couldn't see it happening.  

Congratulations to all the faithful in Chicago whose prayers and efforts have been rewarded.


Elizabeth said...

I live in Chicago and heard about this an hour ago on the radio news...and was shocked! And thrilled. Praise God.

Jane Chantal said...

How perfectly wonderful. Deo gratias :-) :-) :-)

Konstantin said...

Excellent news and a great victory, indeed. The Shrine is very dear to my heart although I live in Germany. I've participated in the novena a couple of times, especially during my father's grave illness. Interestingly, some days later an acquaintance, who's not really an exemplary Catholic but has a relative in the Institute, brought by three holy cards published by the ICK with the picture of the Infant Jesus at the Shrine in Chicago.

I believe the St. Francis de Sales approach works always -- that is, when it is used in the right circumstances. Just today I read a chapter of St. Alphonsus on meekness and he quotes St. Francis extensively. But there is one exception to always being nice and not "arguing": when it comes to sin and addressing abuses, especially when it comes to those who are in a position to do something about it. This is not meant to bash the ICK, I respect them especially for the beauty of their liturgy. Nonetheless it often seems, and this doesn't apply exclusively to them, that today's Catholicism has been relegated to the sacristies, just as the enemies of Holy Mother Church have always wished. I say it seems because I cannot speak for the Institute, they are not very numerous over here and I have only been to their chapel once. But I never here them say anything and your posts mentioning the low profile they keep seem to confirm this. I have numerous old newspapers and priests used to be much more vocal about issues than today, even though the 1920's and 1930's seem to be Trad paradise in comparison. I wish our priests would speak their mind more. Back in the day we had Catholic newspapers. Now there are only a few left, but we have the internet today. Priests nowadays cannot be more busy than priests back in the day; I just don't buy this narrative. Therefore it would be great to see more Traditional priests blog.

Please excuse the long rant, but I wanted to get my point across.

YoungCatholicSTL said...

I'm clearly in the minority here (maybe it is just me alone), but I disagree with the ICK's decision to rebuild. In this instance, the Shrine was completely gutted by fire, making it cost prohibitive to not only restore the Shrine, but to first stabilize what is left and then rebuild. At the same time, the Chicago Archdiocese is on the cusp of closing dozens of parishes over the next 10 years, and the Archdiocese made it clear that it would help the ICK find another church if necessary. Couldn't the ICK and the Archdiocese find another church nearby that was soon to be closed? Old, beautiful churches are everywhere in the city of Chicago, and it seems as if the ICK could have had one in the same general vicinity (admittedly, that is speculation on my part) if it was important to them to remain near Woodlawn. (Out of curiosity, is there any real connection for the ICK to the Woodlawn neighborhood other than their church building? I presume nearly all of their support/parishioners come from outside the Woodlawn community.) Instead, the ICK will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars rebuilding an almost completely destroyed church, while a nearby, beautiful church requiring significantly less funding will meet the wrecking ball or be sold to some non-Catholic entity. To me, this seems like both a waste of money and a waste of another beautiful church building. This isn't simply a matter of spending a few dollars to restore the building, the money involved here and the extent of the destruction are nearly the equivalent of building a brand new structure.

I think of a city like St. Louis - while I would hate to ever see anything happen to de Sales, if something were to happen to it, I would hope any restoration money could be better spent allowing the ICK to run/restore a nearby church that has been almost closed in the past (think St. Pius V, St. Mary of Victories or St. John Nepomuk) rather than restoring de Sales. Of course those churches aren't as beautiful as de Sales (few are), but they are very beautiful in their own rights, and to see one of them destroyed at the cost of salvaging a destroyed de Sales is utterly ridiculous.

Please don't get me wrong - this is not meant as a criticism of the ICK overall, just this one decision. And there are plenty of worse things on which the money could be used. This is simply a case of hearts being in the right place, even though heads are not.

Everything you have said about how they go about their work while building strong relationships is very true and deserving of praise, and the work they have done in St. Louis is nothing short of miraculous. They often remind of the quote falsely attributed to St. Francis - "Preach always, when necessary use words." Through the beauty of their liturgy and the lives they lead, the Gospel shines through. Any actual preaching they do is simply an added bonus.

Elizabeth said...

@Young Catholic: All good points, actually. I've only been to their church a couple of times so I can't comment for sure on who their regular parishioners are other than what I've heard, that most of them come from some distance away but also a growing number of students, faculty and families from nearby University of Chicago.

I wondered what churches were offered to them by the Archdiocese and if what was offered played into this decision to fight to stay and restore and rebuild their beautiful but gutted church.

Konstantin said...

After reading his comment, YoungCatholicSTL seems to be right. After all, who says that the Shrine can be rebuild and doesn't have to be torn down in the end, despite all efforts to safe it? That would have been the worst deal of the century -- first investing money to rebuild and then having to build a new church or take over an old one anyway. The assessment of the engineering firm contracted by the Archdiocese obviously came to the conclusion that the building had to be demolished.

Scott Woltze said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PMKD said...

I believe that the Archdiocese of Chicago opted for the demolition because they are SELF-INSURED and didn't want to pay out the cash. As this announced transfer was at no cost, the archdiocese gets out of the liability of the building as well as the $250K(?) to demolish it. Our beloved Institute gets to rebuild and build something greater for God's glory. I've been saying for awhile that the original plan WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH for the Infant King. The fact that the statue was not incinerated when there was enough heat to do so says something... It seems to this layman that there have been enough SECULAR architectural studies done recently that make this feasible. The fire and the #SaveTheShrine efforts were front page news in the mega-metropolis Chicago. That would have never happened if it weren't meant to be.


chantgirl said...

The priests of the Institute are nothing if not intelligent. I'm sure that they consulted with engineers to assess whether the church could be rebuilt.

Sometimes a place is more than a place; it is a symbol.

Nicole said...

In response to Young Catholic,
As a 10 year member of the faithful of the Shrine, I'd like to respond. First of all, the Shrine was not gutted. The roof was completely destroyed but the walls are all sound with minimal damage. Second of all, the archdiocese did not say they would help the Institute find another church. They offered 1 church 5 miles away from the Shrine in an extremely bad neighborhood, far worse than Woodlawn was 12 years ago when the Institute moved in. The church they offered also needed extensive repairs.
The reasons for staying in Woodlawn are numerous but I'll just mention a few. First of all, that is where their headquarters is located. Second of all, their presence has brought peace and stability to the neighborhood. The priests are very visible and involved with the community. The last thing they wanted to do is abandon the people. What kind of message would that send? Finally, the most important reason they decided to stay is because THAT IS WHAT GOD WANTS. They did not make this decision with hearts and not heads. It was not made lightly or without a lot of input from many experts or (most importantly) without PRAYER! We prayed the Infant King novena from Christmas to The Feast of the Purification and then prayed the Memorare the whole month of February. The deck was stacked against us from the beginning so believe it when I say there is no way that things would have turned out the way they did if it was not God's will. We truly left it all in His hands and He led us where He wants us to be. He has used this fire to convert hearts and minds and no doubt will continue to do so going forward.
We will continue to have faith that Our Divine Infant King will help us rebuild His home. We are also now invoking St Joseph throughout the month of March with a prayer written by St Francis de Sales. Please continue to pray that God's Holy Will be done!

Elizabeth said...

@Nicole: Thanks for your valuable input and perspective!

RadTrad1 said...

Young Catholic, you are completely correct. The building is not the architectural wonder that it is made out to be, although it was extraordinary 80 years ago. Not a few Archdiocesan churches exceed it in spiritual and artistic aesthetics. Maintaining it has become a millstone, the eternal Catholic version of the Myth of Sisyphus. Over the last 5 months, there has been much secrecy and concealment. Worse are statements that were hysterical, delusional, distortions, misrepresentation, half-truths and sometimes disingenuous and untrue. Many of these remarks came from non-members. The self-deluded obsession about the structure has affected the direction of traditional spirituality. The neighborhood is horribly violent, but it welcomes the presence of the Shrine as a type of urban renewal. Actual monetary and congregational support from the neighborhood is miniscule. The self-absorption attitude in this neighborhood will never result in a parish that can support itself and the headquarters.

YoungCatholicSTL said...

Thanks Nicole. I had forgotten that this was the American headquarters for the order, which does shed a different light on the decision. I still disagree with the decision to rebuild, but my disagreement isn't quite as strong in light of that info.

Alan William said...

Since the subject of Woodlawn has come up, allow me to present some information from someone who was born and raised nearby. A few blocks away from the current Shrine, Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston founded the Blackstone Rangers gang (my grandfather lived on Blackstone when he arrived in Chicago). They later consolidated 21 other gangs into the Black P Stone Nation, which is said to have had 50,000 supporters. (Some of them harassed and intimidated some of my relatives). Last year, Woodlawn had 6 homicides and 59 woundings-basically a gunshot casualty every 6 days. Yet, geographically it is one of the smaller Chicago neighborhoods. Newer gangs are now quite active. One young paterfamilias was mugged nearby, so he moved his family away. A half-dozen murders have occurred within walking distance of the Shrine the past 6 months. I am old enough to have witnessed the Chicago riots of the 1960s. The current membership of the P Stones is put at 30,000-42,000. Younger people and out-of-state Catholics are not fully aware of the dangers.

Elizabeth said...

@Alan William: I live on the north side of Chicago and traveled to the Shrine a few times for Mass, a day-retreat, and once for the Last Rites Sacrament. The first time, I called the main office and asked for the best way to get there. The woman told me explicitly how to get there (via Lake Shore Drive) and how NOT to get there (via the Eisenhower to 63rd St. exit). She said I really don't want to travel 63rd all the way down to them, even during the day.

I love those priests and their Order; sure wish they were closer to me!

chantgirl said...

Alan William- sounds like mission ground to me. Of course families need to be aware of safety risks, but are these neighborhoods to be abandoned? Do these people not need Christ? Perhaps more prayers to the North American Martyrs are in order. I'm not downplaying the crime here, but seriously, sometimes we trads need to have more hope and less doom and gloom.

Konstantin said...

Alan is right, gangs have been a huge problem in Chicago, that's why I probably would never go to Woodlawn even during the day. The other problem is that there has to be a consolidated missionary effort in Black communities and someone has to do it...back in the day priests traveled around the globe to preach to cannibals and other debauched peoples...the Woodlawn residents, even if they are P Stones, cannot possibly be worse.