How firm is your foundation? Does it have cracks or is water seeping in? Is the very stability of the foundation threatening the integrity of the structure as a whole? In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses that very example as a reflection of our spiritual foundations. He states that we first need to consider the cost of the structure to be sure there is enough to complete its construction. If the lack of funds results in an incomplete or unsupported building, we have wasted our time and become a mockery to others.
Have you ever wondered about what it took to build the old church buildings, these magnificent architectural wonders? Our ancestors found vast wooded forests that needed to be felled in order to build their homes, farms, businesses and a place of community worship.
When viewing the historical photographs of those church-building crews, it becomes quite apparent that the construction tools at hand, while functional, were not always safe, handy or efficient. There were no large trucks for hauling, no cranes to lift and set heavy windows in place and certainly no electricity, but only sheer willpower, rickety wooden scaffolding, horses and pulleys, and reliance on local resources to secure the strength of the foundation. But that did not deter them. These skilled craftsmen, with just the light of day and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, gave us beautiful structures and a legacy of faith.
Our ancestors set in motion an ideal that some may say is lost on today’s society. However I can’t help but think, in light of our current plight of priest shortages, church mergers and closures and even the selling of these beloved structures, that these simple laborers have also given us the gift of endurance. They persevered with courage in the face of daunting challenges, put aside their fears, and laid for us a foundation made solid by the trials that we all must bear in this life. Are we investing our spiritual dollars wisely? Do we attend Mass regularly, read the Bible, witness our faith to our families and communities?
As a side note, if you are looking for a good read about church foundations, there are two novels that give a good insight on the building of these great structures. They are both based in England: “Sarum” by Edward Rutherford and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Great books!
Wettstein is director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.