I miss the quiet of dark churches.
Throughout 10 years of Catholic schools, I was graced with the opportunity to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament whenever I wanted. The church was dark and cool. Filtered light snuck in through stained glass windows. Side altars were alight with candles. Holy water was available just inside each door. And the Blessed Sacrament was the focal point in the center of the altar raised up for all to see. At least the Tabernacle, which housed the consecrated hosts was. Talking was forbidden unless absolutely necessary and then it must be done in hushed tones. With respect for the Holy Presence and the people who were there to pray.
From the time I entered and blessed myself with the holy water and then genuflected to enter a pew or simply knelt by a side altar, the experience was calming and soothing. I breathed deeply. Knelt or sat and simply reflected. I could carry on a conversation with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. To come to him as the friend he wants to be to me. It was very spiritual and uplifting.
Sometime in the 80s or 90s, someone in the dreadful administrative hierarchy decided that all new churches needed to be vast secularized caverns. With separate chapels in which to segregate the Blessed Sacrament. No more side altars with candles. Light poured in through clear windows. Simple holy water vessels became deep baptismal swimming pools. There were no more hushed voices but a constant babble even up to the start of Mass. And the screaming of misbehaving children. A Catholic Church was no longer a haven of quiet and prayer. No more quiet dark churches.
I admit that my beloved Catholic religion has many tragic flaws.
Certainly much worse than the architectural ones. But this is one that lays on my heart and influences my community worship experience. I rejoice when I travel to small towns with small, older churches that still embody the features I cherish. Even larger churches in the old style. Built of stone, with stained glass windows. Caverns, perhaps, but quiet dark churches. With side altars and candles. Hushed voices and small holy water fonts.
If you have the good fortune to live in a Catholic community with a smaller, older church, please think twice before you push to modernize. So much is lost in the pursuit of accommodating larger numbers of worshipers in a mega-modern church building.