12 July 2003

Electric Candles

I'm back from Boston. Parents and I walked the Freedom Trail from the State House to Bunker Hill. Don't climb the Bunker Hill monument unless you're training for a marathon--the view's nice, but not that nice.

Across the street from Paul Revere's house is an Italian Catholic church called Sacred Heart, run by the Scalabrian Fathers, which I have never heard of, but I always welcome information about such things. It's a nice little church, not gorgeous or impressive but nice, and, well, inoffensive I suppose. The only thing I found weird was the "candles" in front of the statues. They are electric. You press a button and they light up and flicker. I don't know why they still suggested different donations for "large and small candles" because the light bulbs were the same size and they presumably use the same amount of electricity. Illogical, really. Anyway, while I had heard of the phenomenon of electric candles in churches which worried about fire hazards, or whose local fire-related governing body demanded no unattended candles, but I've never actually seen them before. They seem very odd, a little unnatural, I suppose. I've never heard anyone say that they couldn't be used, but I don't like them.

Another phenomenon that I don't like: the locked church. We tried to go to St. Mary's on Bunker Hill, but no luck. To be fair, there is a door with a doorbell that says "ring for assistance" which we probably could have rung if we were desperate to get in, but we didn't try. I understand that churches in heavily populated areas need to be locked to protect against vandalism and theft. It's very sad indeed. Still, I wish that they could do as my former parish does. One out of the way side door is left unlocked. If you don't go there regularly, you probably wouldn't know which it was, and as there are about 15 doors, you'd probably get sick of trying them before you got there. But you can get in if you want to. And of course, the Perpetual Adoration chapel is never locked. Locked churches have to be one of the saddest things in the world.

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