Tucked away in an old convent on Milwaukee’s near south side, a magnificent chapel, and a monument to our Lord can be found. The chapel was constructed around the turn of the twentieth century and was commissioned by the co-founder of the School Sisters of St. Francis, Mother Alfons Schmidt.
The chapel, known as St. Joseph’s Chapel, was featured on a memorable television Christmas special a few years ago. The chapel is resplendent with stained glass, statues and artifacts, and even while watching the TV show, it took my breath away. Mother Alfons Schmidt was known to have said, “Nothing is too good for God.”
The last few days I have been reading the Christian Bible Old Testament book of Exodus. Nearly the entire last third of the book is devoted to recounting how the holy Tabernacle should be constructed, including the altar, tent materials, tent posts, right down to the garments and head dresses of the priests. Tedious detail is given in the book of Exodus as to the finest and minutest feature.
I tried with all my might to picture in my mind, as I read, how the completed Tabernacle would appear. I fell short, but I was able to piece enough together to get a good visual that I could hold onto. If I tried to relay a written picture, I know that I would not be able to convey the beauty and the elegance of this first Temple of our God, where God revealed himself to our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites.
As I read, it became apparent to me that the construction of the Tabernacle, and possibly St. Joseph’s Chapel, and possibly all the basilicas of all our times may have been an awe-inspiring cooperation between God and mankind. God’s pure gift of Divine Inspiration, followed by the work of the hands of mankind created these fine testimonials s to God Himself.
No, we do not have God’s Tabernacle, nor do we have the Temple in Jerusalem, but we do have the magnificent St. Joseph’s Chapel, and the resplendent Holy Hill (well known in Wisconsin), and the little storefront mission on the North Side with its modest vestments.
Regardless of where we worship, or where we gather, all these and more may be our reminders, and sometimes our very connection to our Almighty God. This Sunday, let’s sit down and look around, maybe we will see God in our surroundings. Have Faith.