Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Sacred and the Secular

As we end the month of June, I have noticed social media covered in pictures of churches festooned with LGBT pride flags. For me, this is problematic because any secular symbol in the sanctuary is problematic. This is not about LGBT equality and I do not believe this can be singled out to just a pride flag. This extends to a variety of items—sports team chasubles, pride stoles/flags, political statements, and even national flags. Our gathering for the liturgy is a sacred action where we come to receive the very Body and Blood of Christ. We come from a variety of backgrounds--saint and sinner, firm and questioning, committed and struggling--to receive that which gives us strength to continue. It would be different if we were a non-sacramental church where there is no emphasis on eucharistic devotion. But we gather to join ourselves to Our Lord’s ultimate sacrifice. As such we are called to join ourselves wholeheartedly to Our Lord. 

Because of this perspective, anything highlighting a secular cause or campaign is not suitable for the Holy of Holies. I am certainly sympathetic to people wanting to ensure everyone feels welcome and extending hospitality towards those who have been rejected in the past. But when we involve the secular—again be it nationalism, regionalism, a sports team, or highlighting a group—it runs the risk of politicizing or secularizing the sacred. And we’ve seen time and time again how that does not work out. So, put up funny church signs, bless the team before the big game, advertise an extravagant welcome to anyone and everyone on your website, even put things in the narthex, but please keep the sanctuary sacred. 

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Gal. 2:20

Photo: Altar at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, Calif.