Last week we found ourselves early in Matthew’s gospel with Jesus in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). This week, much time has passed as we find Jesus in the middle of the gospel on a mountain (Matthew 17:1-9). There he is transfigured, and Peter, James and John see the glory of the Lord. This is meant to bolster the faith of the apostles during the passion and death of Jesus, give them hope and confidence to continue our Lord’s mission after the Ascension, and be a sign of our destiny if we live our faith. This we can do with the help of our Lenten practices—prayer, fasting and almsgiving, combined with our regular reception of the sacraments. May God give us the strength and grace to persevere.
“The way we destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and by doing often those things which are the opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars
“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”Week 1: Nave
The part of a Catholic Church where the laity prays and worships is called the nave. The word “nave” comes from the Latin “navis,” meaning ship. We, the people of God, are regarded as passengers on a ship destined for heaven. The nave is not a meeting place but a place of worship; the congregation is not an audience but participants in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In most churches today, the nave is filled with pews or chairs. That was not always the case. For over 1,000 years, churches did not have seats for the congregation; the faithful mostly stood or knelt during the Mass. Not only did they stand, but they were separated by gender. Men were normally on the right facing the altar and women were on the left. Not until the 13th century did pews or benches become popular; still today there are Catholic churches without seats, save a few designated for the old and the infirm. Parishes quickly discovered that pews are an expensive addition and the cost of installation was passed on to parishioners. Pew were purchased or rented by the laity and often regarded as the property of a particular person or family. This idea persisted for centuries. Today we may contribute to pew renovation or installation, but we don’t own a particular pew (although many of us seek to sit in the same spot at every Mass).
|The nave looking toward the altar in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)|
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***