Historic

Church Floor Plan

THE CHURCH BUILDING

The building is a great symbol of what the church is all about. The entire building rests on a foundation. It has walls but a lot of windows to let in the light of the Good News. It has really big doors to make sure everyone knows that it is a place  where they are welcome. The best part of the church building is the people who gather to worship together. They come together to remind each other of how great God is and what great things God has done for us all.

 

THE CHURCH WINDOWS

Windows let in the light. Traditionally, churches have been designed so that the light of the rising sun falls on the altar to remind us of the risen Christ who put an end to darkness. (East -West) The windows of very old churches, like the great cathedrals of Europe, tell the story of how God has saved all people. In early times not everyone learned to read and write. Mass was celebrated in Latin, a language that not everyone understood. So, in order to make sure that everyone had a chance to receive God's word, designers made use of the windows. They designed beautiful scenes from important Bible stories and then had those pictures formed in multicolored glass called stained glass. When the sunlight shone through these huge scenic windows it gave the church a special feeling of holiness. People who could not read or who had trouble understanding the Latin mass, could look at the windows to see how good God has been to all people. Today most people can read so the windows are more commonly decorated with saints who are special to the parish community or with symbols of our faith. However, when the light shines through these windows we still get a feeling that we are in a special, Holy place.

 

THE ALTAR STONE

In early times an altar was not complete without a relic or a piece of the remains of a holy person. It is level with the surface of the altar and is just large enough to hold a paten and chalice. You may see five crosses engraved on it reminding us of the five wounds of Christ. The relic sealed in this stone reminds us that we are called to participate in doing Jesus' work.

 

THE ALTAR

The altar is the main symbol of Christ. It recalls the ancient place of sacrifice where people slaughtered offering animals such as doves, lambs or cattle to God as a sign they were sorry for their sins. After Jesus' death and resurrection, we no longer offer animals to God. Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice of His life for all of our sins. We now see the altar as a table—the table of the Lord's supper. It is either square to symbolize the four corners of the earth where God's people are found or round to symbolize the equality of all who approach.

 

THE DOORS

The doors of a church are very symbolic. They can represent the gates of Heaven. They also represent the place of welcome to all who come to meet the Lord. Many churches have plain wood or glass and metal doors leading into the church building. Then they have a separate set of doors leading from the narthex, or gathering space, into the nave, or worship space. These doors can be very decorative. They might have panels with scenes from the Bible carved on them or symbols that remind us of how great God is to us. These doors are usually very tall and wide in order to allow people to process (or parade) into the worship space with joy and celebration.

 

THE LITURGICAL COLORS

Church life is a very rich and colorful experience. We celebrate with words but also with a variety of sights, smells and sounds that remind us of the passing of time. One way of marking time is to watch colors that are displayed in the church.

Green signals Ordinary time—a time of hope, growth, life and fidelity. Ordinary time is our time of growth after the experiences of Christmas and Easter. Violet is a color of sorrow, repentance and preparation. Advent sees a lighter blue-violet shade which emphasizes preparation. Lent uses a deeper red purple which indicates humility, sorrow and need to be forgiven. White is a joyful color! It represents innocence, purity, victory and joy. We see white in all of our joyful celebrations of Christmas, Easter, Mary, angels, saints who are not martyrs and even funerals and weddings. Red recalls sacrifice (the color of blood), charity and the Holy Spirit. We see red on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, Pentecost and for celebrations of martyred saints and the Apostles. We also see red during Confirmation.