Tag Archives: Church renovation

Catheads n Soppins n Sanctuary Renovation

  • 6:00 am text: You got ten minutes to get to church.
  • 6:01 am text: 11
  • 6:02 am text: k

After plotting how to continue with the sanctuary renovation, specifically with security of the tabernacle, after noting how great the altar progress and Communion rail progress is going (though one rail broke but that’ll maybe be taken care of by Saturday morning), we raced off to Grandpa Charlie’s for some breakfast.

Catheads n soppins are bisquits and pepper gravy. Great omelet as well. The Mud Coffee was spectacular. [I’ve done my USCCB alternative penance for Fridays first thing this morning.] Here’s some pics of the sanctuary renovation:

We’re taking it slow. There’s much more to be done for both. The altar, for instance, needs some crosses and a sepulcher for relics, plus the marble pillars to either side (we have those) and some kind of art work for the middle, and needs the consecration rites with the Sacred Chrism. SLOWLY. We wanna do it right.

We will surely have appropriate pictures for the diocesan newspaper (they’ve been chomping at the bit) when we do the consecration. That’ll take time. SLOWLY.

By the way, about the Catheads n Soppins above. Here’s the deal: plotting out progress on such projects is an ongoing process necessitating lots of sit-downs, and can’t be put in architectural drawings forced onto unknown situations regarding the structure of the building, especially considering limited funds in the tiniest parish in North America. It has to be done detail by detail over months and months, and months and months…

There are those with unlimited resources who can force restructuring of entire buildings and don’t understand this SLOWLY-method at all. They are the kind who buy a new vehicle when a hubcap pops off. They can afford it, and they don’t care. But when you have shoestring budgets, this is how you do things.

I remember a church project somewhere in the world that we got done for 10,000 thousand dollars when the recommendations by the those with unlimited resources wanted to spend 600,000.00 bucks. Yep. And we did it ten times better. But the way which involves the parishioners as a parish family – always the way to go – involves Catheads and Soppins. I love that. Parishes are about Jesus and parishioners, right?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to more Catheads n Soppins. :-)


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Altar Rails aka Communion Rails installation has begun! How to:

Our craftsmen arrived from Brevard before lunch. Let’s see some progress. A threaded pipe… Interesting. How’ll that work?

The end posts of the altar rails slide over the pipes and are then capped on their threaded tops:

The we placed the cap across the lengths of the rails:

But that picture is unfair, as we do not yet have the granite inserts, 4 inches by 10 feet each. They are due to be delivered later this evening. The design boasts of bevelled pillars thinner at the top than the bottom as one might find in ancient Rome. The simplicity, strength, appropriateness is stunning. I’m very pleased altogether.

The actual altar top is also set to be delivered this evening. It will be less deep front to back, but longer side to side. , which itself will be less “deep” but longer side to side. It may not look like it in this picture but a priest will be able to offer Holy Mass from either side of the altar as per diocesan regulations. No problem. The altar is also far from finished. It will take quite a bit of logistical arranging to engrave the crosses and the “sepulcher” for relics and get ready for the consecration. We’ll have to get some hand made altar linins from Connecticut for the first waxed cloth, another to protect that (both of those the same size as the top of the altar only) and then other fuller cloths that will drape slightly over the edges and can be changed out for the liturgical seasons. To either side of the two pillars on the front of the altar there will solid marble stones with engraved crosses (those have a story about which I now have more details). That will frame the center of the altar. I’m thinking about perhaps putting a mosaic or a carving of the Last Supper. We will see.

The granite for the “altar of repose” as it is somehow called, will also be delivered later this evening. Obviously, we’re not ready to install that yet, so we still have no tabernacle in place. That will take quite a while, as security is paramount.

All the granite for all the pieces was cut from the same slab from Brazil.

We’re going to be creating two lecturns and a credenza.

Some notes:

  • None of the monies for this project came from the parish. Zip. Zero. Zilch. There were plenty of anonymous donations. Most of the money came from out-of-state. All of it was in the form of restricted donations. It all just started pouring in. The angels were at work.
  • Some will immediately notice the candle sticks on the altar, that they are the “wrong side.” Whatever. If someone comes to the parish and wants to offer Holy Mass against the people (versus populum!) the candlesticks take seconds to more from one side to the other. Easy.
  • Some will immediately notice the crucifix on the altar besides the crucifix that will top the tabernacle. Yes, well, that crucifix on the altar of Sacrifice (by the way) is actually hidden by altar cards when we’re offering the Sacred Mysteries by making use of Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The diocesan newspaper has been chomping at the bit to put up some pictures. These are not them. I want to wait until the fullness of the work has been wrought. Sorry! This is just a progress report.


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Church roof: we’re flying ahead! Meanwhile, inside…

A number of shingle roofs were ripped off and replaced with a super good metal roof at the mission church in Robbinsville this past week. Imagine that. Such optimism! You know why?

Meanwhile, inside the church:

You don’t see it here, but if you could listen in, people are saying the Holy Rosary.

And, yes, don’t worry, all socially distanced, but never from Jesus.

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Burning the altar: dragons, lions, the Last One Standing after the battle

This is the old base of the old altar. Obviously it was one those tippy altars, almost tumbling over any number of times. It had to be done in. But I didn’t want to just use it for something else. What to do? That’s an easy question for me to answer, seeing what’s I have a backyard and matches. But the flames are rather… suggestive… Yikes!

Some might ask – and some have – going along with the looks of things for the sake of conversation: “But why would that happen like that?” … you know, ignoring how the box was made and the updrafts dependent on the logistics of the drafts and positioning of the wood, etc.

Here’s a thought: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is (1) the Last Supper united with (2) Jesus’ Passion and Death for our Redemption and Salvation on Calvary. Satan had already possessed Judas when the Last Supper took place on that Holy Thursday evening. Satan was present in Judas at the Last Supper. And, obviously, hell was entirely broken out on Calvary. When Satan thought he was being victorious over the God-Man Jesus, this is when the greatest glory of God’s love for us was being most manifest, glory upon glory. People think that Holy Mass is so holy that Satan couldn’t possibly be there. Instead, this is where he is, now trying to pervert the doctrine and morality of the priests, now trying to turn people away from Jesus.

The vast majority of Catholics no longer believe in our Eucharistic King, Jesus, who is, in fact, present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. They are not doubting because of any scientific doubt. I’ve never once seen that. Instead, any doubt about our Eucharistic King stems from immoral lives and unconfessed sin. If the backsliders actually love Jesus they will keep His commandments. They will go to Confession. They will have the great joy of receiving Him in Holy Communion. And they will absolutely believe in the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. They will be humbly thankful.

Newly converted once again, they will be situationally aware as never before, knowing that Satan is prowling about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, but they will remain steadfast, fearless, with Jesus. The Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception is The Warrior with His mother over against Satan. Jesus is Himself the true Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He is the Last One Standing, full of scars. Yes, He received those scars on Calvary, the Sacrifice of the Sacrifice of the Mass, but He has killed off the power of Satan, that fake-lion, and stands victorious.

  • I’m with the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, not because I’m good, but because I’m forgiven. Jesus is good and kind.
  • I have no fear, not because I’m good, but because the One who is the Last One Standing wants me with Him. Jesus is good and kind.

The look on that Face is not threatening in the least. Rather, it’s a Face which says, “You see how I’ve loved you, fighting for you, unto death, and now I bring you to Life: Let’s go! And we are enthusiastic with His saying: “As the Master, so the Disciple.”

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Altar baldacchino secret of our sanctuary renovation

Underneath the canopy of pretty much any baldacchino anywhere in the world – where any still exist – you are likely to see an image of the Holy Spirit. In this case of Saint Peter’s Basilica on Vatican hill, you can also see the amber window of the Holy Spirit.

Below you see some progress being made with the base of our new mostly solid oak altar, which will have a near half-ton granite top. There is, however, for evenly flat and super strong support a maple topped sheet of plywood which will lie immediately underneath the granite which will itself overhang all sides. I insisted that this particular bit of maple plywood be used up top. It is from a 4’x8′ case housing protecting the delivery of a hand painted canvas that was intended to be used and was used for many years as a baldacchino over the ad orientem altar of Holy Souls Hermitage of yore.

Here’s a detail of that hand-painted baldacchino:

We can’t have a baldacchino in our little church since the ceiling is so low that, at the Consecrations at Holy Mass, the chalice almost bumps into that ceiling.

Now that the hermitage is gone forever, I was momentarily tempted to extract this detail of the Holy Spirit from that hand-painted baldacchino, reframe it, and place it front and center of our new altar. Even a detail would be too large.

But, since the beginning of the project, we’re hoping to find some kind of art-work typical of any ad orientem Altar of Sacrifice one might see in days more of tradition more so than our own, such as a mosaic or bas-relief sculpture of, say, the Last Supper. But that’s for the finishing touches. We continue the work.


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Santuary renovation: ad orientem?

The rule in the diocese here is that any sanctuary renovation must situate the altar to that the priest might be able to offer Holy Mass versus populum and also possibly ad orientem. Only with the most extreme difficulty could Holy Mass be offered ad orientem with the previous situation of a necessarily altogether too small platform raising the altar above the rest of the sanctuary floor.

What we were looking for is a real altar. Accomplishing that provided the opportunity to remove the platform. Doing that meant that the altar could now boast of possibilities for both the “ordinary” and the “extraordinary” Roman Rite(s) of the Holy Sacrifice.

We’re preparing for the sake of charity and reverence altar rails or more accurately Communion rails. We’re is discussion stages for the construction and security of the logistics for the Tabernacle. The lecturn, the credence table, what we call the Mary table are also in the works. This is being done with donations, not from the parish funds.

You’ll notice that the altar beginnings pictured above with one of our parishioners seems to lack depth, and even length. But you’ll have to use your imagination coupled with a knowledge of how this altar is going to be used, possibly from both sides. When the granite altar top, the mensa is installed, it will over overhang a few inches both sides lengthwise and about six inches depthwise both in front and back. And, not to worry, we’re making sure this will not be tippy as was the other altar. The previous altar could literally be pushed over with one finger, and that’s been that way for some 55 +- years.

We’re aiming for high quality. The porcelain floor is from India, the granite from Brazil (that being in mockery of Pachamama).

We want the best for our dear Lord, next to whose Sacrifice His good mom stands.

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Old church sanctuary up in flames with two bonfires in rectory backyard

After about 1/8″ of drizzle fell during the other night, conditions were perfect for a bit of pyromania. All is safe, but I had a fire extinguisher and a water hose at the ready anyway. Also, both neighbors are at the top of their game in the town’s fire department.

The picture above shows the platform which was added to the step-up sanctuary floor. The rule in the diocese is that Holy Mass must be able to offered from either side of the Altar. Our sanctuary is so small that ad orientem was extremely difficult with the platform that had been added in post-Conciliar times. That platform had to go. That meant that we were able to rip up the cardboard Pergo flooring or whatever it’s called. Above is bonfire number one. Below is number two.

You gotta do what’cha gotta do. Soon to meet this fate a few late-1960s vestments, you know the kind, gaudy polyester and such. A very generous couple has provided us with extremely beautiful vestments that would be a joy for any church in Rome say, in 1962, or 1955, or during the time of Pope Pius X… More on that later.

Also, just to say, no puppy dogs were injured in these fires. They were locked out of the main-back-yard so that they wouldn’t step on any hot coals. :-)


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Sanctuary Renovation continues

The cement is down. The cement board is down, The mortar is down. The porcelain tile is down. The grouting still needs to be pushed in and the floor washed.

Meanwhile, logistics are being prepared for the Tabernacle. We’re getting closer to the construction of Communion Rails. The Granite Altar top will be cut, as will the pieces to be used with the Tabernacle and the Communion Rails.

Here’s the beginnings of the “box” upon which the Altar top will be laid. The plywood on the floor is simply providing a flat surface for now.

The front of the Altar will be oak boards. It will look good on it’s own, but we’re looking into seeing about getting a mosaic or bas relief to install on the front. That’s the least of our worries right now. We’re trying to get back into church as soon as possible.

In these days of chaos, Holy Mass is being offered in the social hall. Grrr… But my thoughts at this time have gone to the chaos on Calvary and to those who are suffering terrible persecution right now, likely with no possibility of Holy Mass or only in very compromised situations. Holy Mass has been offered in concentration camps. We’re doing well.

Just in case anyone is wondering, we have not provided any quarter for any pagan idol Pachamama statue. Instead, the granite for the Altar top comes to us from Brazil. This is our way of doing reparation for the sins against the first commandment.


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Mistakes or a nod to the demonic in 1960s church sanctuary renovation?

The above picture depicts Easter Sunday at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in 1962, the opening of the church after having finished construction by the Glenmarys, who are responsible for opening most parishes in WNC Appalachia. Even in 1962, it was a fad to do up minimalist references to the divine. But at least they still had ad orientem and the Communion Rail and proper cassocks and surplices for the altar boys.

But by the end of the Second Vatican Council (1965), an ironing board freestanding moveable altar (super-tippable) was hacked together from dozens of scraps of plywood and placed versus populum on the one-step elevation, all the way to the front of that step. sigh… At the same time, the Communion Rail (Altar Rail) was ripped out and the back altar was ripped out. I’m just as happy that the original ad orientem altar was destroyed as it couldn’t haven’t been uglier, couldn’t have been more weird, or so I thought, until now.

The ironing-board altar had a rock face made from scraps of the back of the chimney seen behind the altar above. The hearth faced into the residence in back of the church. Here’s a picture of the scraps making a design:

If you can’t see the only possible design that can be picked out, here’s some help:

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. The ladies in the parish hated this and had gone out of their way to cover it up with upholstery cloth, etc. It could have been turned around so that it would be an upright cross, not upside down. I wasn’t much bothered by it because I had once been an assistant priest at a parish named after Saint Peter Apostle. You’ll recall that he was crucified upside down out of an abundance of humility, not presuming to be crucified as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, the presumption of that motivation for installing the rock insert upside down, as it were, disappeared entirely, when, in the prep work for installing a new porcelain floor previous to installing a new Altar, Altar Rails, and some new logistics for the Tabernacle, something unexpected was discovered.

The ad orientem Altar had been replaced already around 1965 with a kind of Tabernacle stand (which was at least in the center of the sanctuary). That also had a rock face incorporating two vertical pieces of stone, each with a tall cross etched in and plated with gold.

Fine. But, two crosses there along with a third in the ironing board versus populum altar recalls the crucifixion of Our Lord on Calvary, not that of Saint Peter. So, surely the upside down bit in the new altar was a mistake by a drunk and disorderly workman. But, as far as I know, all the workmen were Glenmary priests and brothers, as that’s what they do, constructing churches and opening up parishes on a shoestring budget in counties where there are not any Catholic churches and only a few Catholics. Kudos to them for such evangelization. It is what it is, or is there something worse?

Those two stones under the mid-1960s Tabernacle stand with the two tall crosses in them were faced backwards and were unseen for the last 45+- years. When we ripped apart that Tabernacle stand, it was noticed that the crosses were also installed upside down. That would be three crosses installed upside down. What the hell? (That using proper theological terminology in that question.)

I got a call from a parishioner spearheading the work with all this: “Have you seen these big stones up at the church? You gotta come up here and see this?” Here’s a picture of them right-side-up, because leaving them upside down was too offensive to him, even for another couple of minutes of my travel time up to the church.

It’s kinda hard not to notice that those tall crosses would be upside down. I don’t know the story here, who was who in doing the work, but I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I’ll do an exorcism over these stones and they will be incorporated again into a new construction. After all, the “third” cross, that of our Lord, is between them, up high. All will be good again. And they will be right side up.

STORY TIME: In yet another parish in upstate New York, the fiasco of building the church was related to me. There is an analogy with what happened here in Andrews, NC.

Up in New York, the daily construction work of the field stone church was destroyed nightly, for weeks by a nefariously lodged-up group. Parishioners were resilient in construction, but were getting frustrated. The railroaders back in the day heard of the anti-Catholic attacks and stood guard at night. The church was successfully constructed. But the Catholics didn’t have the last laugh. Not at all.

That church had a basement, which sported a rectangular cement support from the floor of the basement up to the flooring of the sanctuary just the size of the heavy stone altar in order to support it’s great weight. But, of course, that was ripped out in order to put in, yet again, an ironing board altar. As the old altar was removed, parishioners were able to see down the rectangular cement support structure, and they saw a box just begging to be opened. Was it a time-capsule? No, no.

It contained a note to future generations the nefarious intent of those who had been destroying the daily construction of the church building, and an entirely credible claim as to who the perpetrators of the hate crime were, namely, a very specific lodged-up group. Sigh. Of course, all those perps by this time have gone on to their eternal “reward”, as have, I’m quite sure, those who had done up the installation of the three upside down crosses.

Mind you, at my own parish church, back in the 1960s, the liberal Catholic culture was to have as little as possible refer to anything about God. I bet while these three crosses were being installed properly, the workman (not a Glenmary) was instructed to hide the two crosses as just the simple rock face would do just fine. It’s a lot of work to gouge out stone like this and paint it up all good. What a blow it would be to be told just to hide it all. I bet that’s when the guy lost whatever faith he had, and in retaliation, did reverse the stones, but them installed them upside down, and then did the same for stonework in the ironing board altar. I bet he’s repented since then. Prayers for them all.

Right now, we’re trying to be careful not to let any such malice or resentment make for that which is inappropriate.

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Progress on church renovation


We’re ripping up the wretched carpet perhaps dating to the 1960s. A start:


All gone…


Continuing today with laying down a new floor on the Epistle side. This will include the floors of both sides of the confessional…


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