It is interesting (for a Catholic) to enter into a Catholic Church on Good Friday. The church is bare – no decorations or appointments – and most startling, the tabernacle doors are open, the inside is empty, and the sanctuary lamp is extinguished. Granted the altar of sacrifice is still there, much of the architectural art is still there, and it is still a consecrated space set aside for worship (we wouldn’t have a ping-pong tournament in there) but by and large it has become a fancy room. We are quiet but not because Jesus is present as the Eucharist, but out of respect for His conspicuous absence. It was if you were still in the King’s chamber and you respected it because it was his, but he wasn’t there so it seemed less alive.
Many non-Catholic Christian communities have this all of the time. I remember growing up having Boy Scout meetings in Protestant sanctuaries – playing around, putting on skits, parents drinking coffee, etc, because it didn’t matter. It was just a room.
Then we celebrated the Easter Vigil with new light, new water, fresh song, and of course Jesus was present to us as the Eucharist once again and some among us received Him for the very first time. The king returns to His chamber. Genuflections return, a quiet returns to his court. For one scary moment we have a taste of what it would be like if we had no more priests. For a lonely afternoon we had knew what it was like to walk into Church and not have Him there.
Pray for vocations. When you pass a Catholic Church, acknowledge His presence there. Never take Him for granted.
What does a typical vocation to the preisthood look like today?