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A Wedding at Assumption Abbey, Westworks, & a High Altar

My family and I had the privilege of attending a wedding this last weekend at a most beautiful church in the middle of nowhere.

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Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND, Middle of Nowhere.

This was a treat for us for many obvious reasons, but I’d like to specifically point out one:  This church is beautiful.  Just look at that westwork!

Don’t know what a westwork is?  It’s the grand entrance of a church flanked by two towers, that should face the west, as one always entered in from the west, to worship toward the east, the Rising Son.  (This was back in the day when everyone faced the same direction during Mass, with the priest leading everyone towards the East, the Rising Son – Ad Orientem.)

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Here’s another westwork in Europe.  Notice that the two towers are different.  It’s because they were built in different time periods.  Quiz.  What famous cathedral is this?*

Of course, not every church could always be built facing the west, which is how we get terms such as, “Liturgical East.”

Back to Assumption Abbey.  This particular church in Richardton, ND, faces the south.

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Here’s an interior shot of Assumption Abbey.  Note those glorious rose windows and flying angels!

If you look closely at the above photo, you’ll notice that the baldachin or baldacchino and high altar are still in place, even though they’re not being used.  The high altar is right underneath the baldachin, but is difficult to see, as it is not lit up.

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Check out this baldachin.  It’s Bernini’s in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Now that’s how you do a canopy and a high altar!

Because the high altar in Assumption Abbey is not in use, there was a little confusion among all the wedding-goers.  Where was one to genuflect?  I noticed that most people genuflected anyway to the (beautiful) empty Tabernacle in the high altar, but the rest of us had to look around.  Just where was Jesus?

We found him.  He was off to the side, in an obscure-looking wooden structure, with no visible tabernacle lamp.

I’d love to see Him restored to His former place of glory – up front and center.  But alas, nobody’s asking me!

The Wedding

The wedding Mass was beautiful.  Fr. Josh Waltz delivered a fiery homily, such as I haven’t heard in awhile.  He’d point to the crucifix and say, “You think you know what marriage is about?  It’s about that.  (Pointing to the crucifix.)  Suffering and sacrifice!”  Then he specifically addressed any husbands out there and commanded, “Men, do you think that’s weak?  No.  It’s hard.  Learn to die to yourselves!  That’s what real men do.”

I’m pretty sure I saw some wives kicking their husbands under the pews.

But not me, because I had to stand in the back with a crabby baby.

In all, it was a great afternoon.  May God bless that newly married couple!

Parting Humiliation

Well, I’ve been humbled.

You see, as we were frantically scrambling to get out of the house that day, our 5-year-old could not find her church shoes.  She couldn’t find any shoes, except her dirty, old flip flops.  What was I to do?  There was no time to stop and buy a new pair.  She couldn’t wear her 11-year-old sister’s shoes.  And she certainly couldn’t fit into her 2-year-old sister’s shoes.

I thought about letting her go barefoot, like a discalced nun.  Then I thought maybe just give her a pair of clean socks?

In the end, she wore the dirty, old flip flops to the wedding.  Sigh.  Hopefully no one noticed!

 

 

*Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France.  By the way, it’s westwork really does face the west.

2 thoughts on “A Wedding at Assumption Abbey, Westworks, & a High Altar”

    1. Love your article! Thanks for linking it. I’ve never heard somebody correctly use the word “defenestration.” I laughed and laughed! Thankfully, that’s never happened to us. (Yet.) And yes, her shoes did turn up. One shoved under the couch and one deep, deep in a closet.

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