You are always welcomed at Saint Anne. Sometimes, though, going to a new church can make you feel a bit uneasy. Here is some information you can read first if you'd like to know more about us.
To visit a church is to make a pilgrimage - This is none other but the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven.
It is, certainly, a place of architectural, cultural and historical interest - yes, of historical interest, for although this is a modern church, it was built in continuity with the great tradition of the ancient and medieval churches of Christendom; and it contains things which, as we shall see, constitute an eloquent link with the living past.
It is important to understand that this church is not an auditorium but a shrine. It is, above all else, the altar of our Lord and the building which contains it. It is the place of the Real Presence of Christ Himself, of which the red lamp above the altar reminds us. It is the place for the gathering of the People of God.
As you visit the church, remember the beautiful admonition of the great 14th century mystic, Lady Julian of Norwich: that we should be homely with God, but not so homely as to leave courtesy behind. Stillness and opportunities for solitude are hard to come by in our own day, and it is therefore a matter of great importance that the church should be a place of silence when it is not re-echoing the voices and music of God's praise. Only so can it retain that indefinable quality of atmosphere which enables a church to "pray of itself". Remember that Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said: "Is it not written, My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations?" So this is a hallowed place of prayer - in which you are very welcome. It is a place in which we hope that you too may find healing, hope and rest. We ask only that you should not visit the church without spending a few moments in prayer, to adore our Blessed Savior, and to remember for good the priests and people who worship and minister here.
We hope that what follows will help you to understand the significance of what you see here. Much of it is drawn directly or indirectly from Romano Guardini's book Sacred Signs, written in the 1920s.
You came in by the main entrance, at the west end of the church. When you go into a church you are making a transition - from the outside world and onto hallowed ground which is separated from the outside world of the market place, a silent, consecrated and holy spot. Of course, the whole world is the work of God and His gift to us, and we can meet Him there. Yet it has always been a human instinct to set aside certain places as being specially dedicated to God. And the doors mark the dividing line.
By the doors are holy water stoups and before you the Font, a pool of glimmering water - so clear and frictionless, so "modest" as St Francis called it.
It is indeed a strange element. On the one hand smooth and transparent, as if it hardly existed in its own right, ready at hand to wash away dirt and satisfy thirst; and on the other a restless, foundationless, enigmatic force ... It is a proper image for the secret ground- source from which life issues and back into which death recalls it. It is an apt image for this life of ours that looks so clear and is so inexplicable. It is plain why the Church uses water as the sign and the bearer of the divine life of grace. We emerge from the waters of baptism into a new life, born again of water and the Holy Spirit. In those same waters the old man was destroyed and put to death. With this elemental element, that yields no answer to our questioning, with this transparent, frictionless, fecund fluid, this symbol and means of the supernatural life of grace, we make on ourselves (as we enter and leave the church), from forehead to breast, from shoulder to shoulder, the sign of the cross.
By the Font stands the Paschal Candle, which is blessed in the ceremonies of the Great Vigil of Easter and which bears the date of this year of grace. It represents the Light of the Risen Christ who leads us through death and resurrection in the waters of Baptism, just as the Pillar of Cloud and of Fire led the people of Israel in the Exodus through the waters of the Red Sea. The Paschal Candle is lit at Baptisms; and it also stands alight at funerals to remind us of our Christian hope in the Risen Christ.
Traditionally, and as in this case, churches are built along the east to west direction of the sun's daily course. The people face the Altar at the east - for the sun of the supernatural world is Christ Himself. Consequently the course of the natural sun, His symbol, governs all sacred architecture and determines all its forms and arrangements.
THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
One of the most beautiful features of St Anne's is its stained glass windows, which are substantially older than the church itself. The use of stained glass has a long tradition in the Church. Besides their lesser decorative and lighting purposes, stained glass windows were used as teaching or catechetical devices through the depiction of scenes from the Bible or key religious symbols. Therefore, stained glass windows were experienced as the Bible in picture form and could then be used by preachers to help a poorly educated, or even illiterate, congregation to understand Scripture and its teachings. Many people came to know the stories of the Bible, and specifically those of our Lord's life, ministry, death, Resurrection, and Ascension, by meditating on the depictions portrayed in the windows. The windows were then used as a source of reflection and prayer afterwards, much as someone today might read a Scripture passage as a source of prayer.
For us today, stained glass windows should also be more than beautiful decorations. We, too, can use the windows to remind ourselves of the stories from Holy Scripture. By meditating on various aspects of the scene, we can discover a new or renewed encounter regarding not only the story but also our Faith.
May these windows serve to reawaken our devotion to our Incarnate Lord and His Passion, who nourishes us daily in the Eucharistic banquet of the Mass.
At the focal point of the church, massive and dominating, stands the Altar. Above and behind it stands the Aumbry, containing the Real Presence of Our Blessed Lord in the Reserved Sacrament - indicated by the red lamp hanging above.
The Altar stands as a rock in the church, and from it flows the life-giving stream of sacramental grace. In the mensa (its table- like top surface) are incised five crosses, for the five Wounds of Christ; and it is covered with a fair linen cloth which represents His burial shroud. Thus the Altar signifies the presence of Christ in His Church; and it is reverenced with bows and sometimes kissed.
The Church's corporate memory (that is, its tradition) includes the awareness of her early days, worshiping in the days of persecution in the dark catacombs under the imperial city of Rome. There she buried her martyrs, and celebrated the Eucharist on the stone slabs above their tombs - upon which candles were set up to provide the necessary light. The candles on our Altar today remind us of that history and of the Light of Christ which the darkness could not, and cannot, extinguish.
The Altar occupies the holiest spot in the church. The church has itself been set apart from the world of human work, and the Altar is elevated above the rest of the church
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Along the walls of the north and south aisles there are fourteen embroidered images representing the fourteen traditional "stations" (or stopping places) associated with the incidents which occurred in Our Lord's Passion as He went along the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, on His way to Calvary. This devotion was made popular in the Middle Ages by the Franciscans who were the Guardians of the Holy Places, as a simulation of the actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem at a time when the Crusades made such a pilgrimage dangerous or impossible. Today, this devotion may be made either by the individual or by a group; but the essence of the matter is to walk, physically, from station to station, stopping at each to meditate upon its meaning and message.