St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral
I believe in maintaining a level of magic in my life. I don’t mean the abracadabra kind of stuff, just including a healthy amount of integrated entropy. So, for the inaugural Filet of Soul, the RN&R’s new church review, I chose Catholic since it’s the religious tradition I’m most familiar with. For the selection of the church, I relied on pure luck. It all boiled down to the Internet and the flip of a coin.
Though I’ve rarely been inside church in the 23 years I’ve lived in Reno, there are several churches that have captured my imagination. The St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, 310 W. Second St., with its huge copper doors and white spires against the blue Nevada sky, is one of them.
I made it to the 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. The clear tones of the churchbells called the people to worship. The organ joined in; it was on the balcony above and behind the congregation.
It’s a beautiful older church with high, aging ceilings, slightly cracked and peeling. Roughly oblong, there’s a large altar with a dramatic crucifix at the front. There are eight large, stunning stained glass windows on the right and left sides of the congregation. The stained glass windows depict various famous people from the local and historic Catholic tradition. The Stations of the Cross also encircle the room, cool bas-relief appearing, painted mural style, somewhat in the style of Diego Rivera.
To be perfectly honest, Mass was kind of slow. Catholics—except for Gary Duncan who led the singing with a kickin’ vibrato-infused falsetto like the guy from last season’s American Idol—aren’t what you’d call over-demonstrative.
With a few flourishes, this was basically the same Mass I attended when I went to Catholic school all those decades ago. There were a couple of changes. For example, there were “altar girls.” The other thing that somewhat shocked me was there was a young man, 20s, drinking McDonald’s coffee from a go cup in the straight-backed, wooden pew directly in front of me.
In the service, there were a couple readings from the Bible: one from the Acts of the Apostles, the other from Revelation. The final reading, by Father Thomas Czeck, was from the Gospel according to John. It told the story of Christ’s appearance before the apostles in the days after his resurrection. Thomas wasn’t present, and he needed to see for himself. The next time the disciples were gathered behind locked doors, Christ appeared and allowed Thomas to explore his wounds. This story is where the phrase, “doubting Thomas,” came from.
Father Czeck took on two themes in the sermon: Doubt and resurrection. I particularly enjoyed that he immediately took on warmongering televangelists. “'Our God is a God of war,'” he paraphrased Jerry Falwell.
“But that did not sit right with me. … [Jesus] does not come back to us with vengeance … he reaches out to us with love: ‘Peace be with you.'”
The priest then told the personal story of the miracle healing of Crack Baby Zelda, who was born missing 80 percent of her brain and for whom nobody ever predicted better than the life of a vegetable. After six months of attention and prayer, to the nurses’ amazement, Zelda had the brain of a normal child.
Inspirational sermon, formally friendly members, this church is excellent for those who prefer their worship mixed with large dashes of tradition, ritual and constancy—just don’t expect a lot of headbanging with the music.
Want to take Brian to church? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.