Sunday, August 12, 2012

FORM VERSUS SUBSTANCE - A TALE OF TWO CHURCHES

ST.PATRICK'S CHURCH, CHURCH HILL, SYDNEY
St.Phillip's Anglican Church, Church Hill, Sydney
Church Hill in Sydney stands at the Southern end of the great Sydney Harbour Bridge. It could be said to be the arrival point in the City for those crossing the Harbour via the Bridge. For more than 150 years it has witnessed a  confrontation  - between the Church established by Jesus Christ and the Church founded by King Henry VIII and the British Parliament. 

Saint Patrick's Church - the Catholic Church - has stood on its rather unfavourable site for the whole of that period. Initially, the Established Church was located directly across the road from Saint Patrick's in what is now a triangular park facing that Church. But a superior site became available up on York Street, and the Establishment demolished its edifice and went higher up .

The two churches are very different in every respect. Saint Patrick's is small and rather dumpy in appearance as it nestles into the hillside leading down from the Bradfield Highway which crosses the Harbour Bridge. Its design could not be said to be distinguished at all, from the tiny , cramped entrance porch, down to its plain almost featureless side walls. St.Phillip's on the other hand is elegant, in a simple fashion, with a fine tower at its Western end and its lovely tracery in the East end stained glass window, which closes off its Apse, separated from the Nave by its lower roofline.There is no doubt, that when it comes to Architecture St.Phillip's is as much in the ascendancy as it is in its site.

But that is where it ends. Its ascendancy is all show - all form and no substance.


Interior View St. Phillip's Church
All is revealed when one seeks to visit St. Phillip's on a weekday, as I did recently, having been curious about it since I was a child. I walked up to the door, but found it locked at about 10.30am. A sign directed interested parties to an office attached to the smart York Street Townhouse which is evidently the Parsonage. A ring on the buzzer, introduce myself as a non-Anglican interested in the building. One of two pleasant young ladies came out with the key, opened the door and invited me to close it behind me on leaving. There I stood in the middle of the empty St.Phillip's - yes empty - nobody home (of course - no Blessed Sacrament). So it was not surprising nobody else bothered to come. It is in reality an empty meeting hall.


Closer view of the "Sanctuary"
Massive Pulpit. Ambo and the mandatory Eagle Lectern
rudimentary "Altar"against East Wall.

The evangelical character of the Sydney Anglican Diocese is very apparent ,for the physical arrangements of Pulpit, Ambo, Lectern fairly scream "Word" .The "Altars"main and side are scarcely more than rudimentary decorative gestures , as is the "Sanctuary"area itself,  almost willed to be forgotten relics of the apostasy from Catholic Truth and Belief.Perhaps it is as well, for those involved are spared the further fault of simulating the Holy Mass.


The Organ , mounted on the Northern Wall is impressive in appearance.

So there we have it, all form and fairly fine form at that, but no substance.For what is a church building about, but worship, and there was none.

But, down the hill, in that dumpy Church nestled into the hillside all these 150 plus years? What was going on that weekday mid - morning?



SAINT PATRICK'S CHURCH - INTERIOR
THE MAGNIFICENT HIGH ALTAR OF BEATEN BRASS -THE GIFT OF POPE SAINT PIUS  X
THE WHOLE AS VIBRANT AND ALIVE AS THE OTHER IS STERILE AND DEAD
Business as usual 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. The Church is nearly full, the fourth Mass for the day is underway, Confessions are still being heard as they will continue to be heard throughout the day and Masses will continue virtually on the hour with Eucharistic Adoration in between each Mass. Saint Patrick's is a veritable Powerhouse of Worship, Adoration, Prayer and Forgiveness day in and day out!

OH YES ! IT MAKES THE WORLD OF DIFFERENCE WHEN THERE IS SOMEBODY HOME!! TRULY, "MAGISTER ADEST ET VOCAT TE" AND THEY COME IN DROVES, EVERY DAY, EVERY WEEK, FOR OVER 150 YEARS!

And , can you imagine, it never was the Established Church! Well , not by the Crown , just by God!!!









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