Our church is a sanctuary. According to the dictionary, this means a holy place, a refuge. The sanctuary in a church is the holy of holies and to give sanctuary means to protect—as in current Canadian examples where individuals reside in a church in order to avoid deportation. This practice draws on the ancient belief that “normal” rules don’t apply to sacred spaces. A place becomes sacred because it is the dwelling place of God. For the first Christians, the understanding of sanctuary shifted from place to people: “wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, there I shall be” (Matt. 18:20). Christ is among us. So together, in our parish community, we ARE sanctuary: we are immersed in kindness, caring, love, at the same time that we practice kindness, caring, love. Why? Because we are the vehicles of Christ; we meet God through each other. Here each and every one of us belongs: just as we are. If we need to sit at any time or throughout the entire service, that’s ok: the pews are there for that. If physically we could use some assistance to improve our participation in the Liturgy, we can let Father or a fellow parishioner know and perhaps accommodations can be made.
On Sundays, when we leave church to return to the “normal” world, I hope we will be a bit more revived, inspired, and at peace, having shared the refuge of the sacred space we create together.