Last week’s Catholic sightseeing trip to St. John Neumann Church in Farragut was only a warm-up. On Independence Day, my wife, my son and I went to Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. My mother tells me that I have already been to the National Shrine. When I was about a year old, we lived in Falls Church while my dad worked on a project for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s not surprising that I have no recollection of the visit.
We took the Metrorail to the Brookland-CUA station. I thought it was a good sign that our train had an advertisement for a Catholic radio station. I was excited to catch a glimpse of the Shrine from the train. As the name of the Metrorail station implies, the Shrine adjoins the campus of The Catholic University of America.
I have to be honest and say that the carvings around the front door of the church made me think, “no wonder some Protestants think we’re Mary worshipers.” There was plenty of Jesus on the inside, however. I am always surprised by people who don’t realize that Catholics are Christians.
Throughout Mass, I kept looking at the large mural of Jesus behind the altar. The artwork reminded me of someone but I can’t figure out who. It’s not the guy who played Stifler, or is it? An image of Jesus in one of the transepts had a comic-book feel that I really liked.
Because my wife is a cantor and I am a lector at All Saints Church in Knoxville, I take a particular interest in choir lofts, pipe organs and ambos at other churches. Time started to get away from us when we went to the Basilica’s lower level, where they have a gift shop, a dining room and a crypt. We couldn’t find a Christmas ornament that we liked but did find a tasty and inexpensive breakfast. I had to skip the crypt until my next visit.