Lower Church Porch
The entrance to the Lower Church functions as a secondary meeting place for the faithful and plays a role in the full liturgy of worship during Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday each year the congregation gather here before the main 10:30 am Mass to hear the reading of the “first gospel” The account of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem surrounded by the rejoicing crowd waving palm branches. From there we process up the processional walkway up into the Upper Church symbolizing the walk up from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem.
Lower Porch Tympanum
The tympanum in the Lower Porch invites us to the quiet space of the Lower Church which is a place or worship, prayer, adoration and final rest.
The artwork therefore communicates great Biblical scenes of meeting the Lord. The main image is of the burning bush where Moses came face to face with the Lord and had it revealed that God is the source and ground of being and is named. “I AM” God’s name is echoed in the quotation from Psalm 46 in the caption and hints at Elijah’s experience in a cave at the same location as the burning bush where God spoke to him in the “still small voice.” The flames of the burning bush also point to the flames that descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, inviting each one of us to encounter the Lord in both the silence of eternity as well as the burning flame of his energy and love. The tympanum art work is a gift of the Tate Family.
The Lower Church is a place for daily Mass, adoration and quiet prayer. There is a small bookshop and a “Give and Take” library. The bookshop focusses on materials to foster the devotion to the Divine Mercy and the Rosary. The Give and Take library is a place where folks can donate Catholic books and help themselves to the books on offer.
Art Old and New
The artwork over the door to the Lower Church is created in ceramics. The artist, Jim Craft, carved it in clay, then once the clay had dried it was cut into individual tiles which were fired in the kiln. The colors are kiln fired glazes–not paint. The whole thing was then transported to Greenville and assembled on site. This intricate procedure for such large pieces of art is unique to OLR Greenville.
Palm Sunday Liturgy
After the First Gospel is read the altar servers lead the faithful up the processional pathway with their palms singing All Glory, Laud and Honor– a traditional Palm Sunday Hymn.
The Church – Living Stones
As the faithful are gathered for the blessing of their palms we are reminded that the people are the church: The first pope, St. Peter wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. Seeing such a beautiful church we can ask which part of the church we might be. Some may be glorious works of art like the stained glass or statues. Most of us will be ordinary–just one of the many bricks in the wall, but the church would be incomplete without each and every brick.