Thursday, September 11, 2008

St. Louis University

Doesn’t this look just like an old American Jesuit college (sculpture and all)? That's St. Ignatius, "the Pilgrim" down the sidewalk. And I believe that's Eve and her offspring dancing out of Adam's rib.

The day started out cloudy, and I headed down to the St. Louis University campus in St. Louis. All of my cousins and my sister attended St. Louis University, and but for a quirk in my own personality, I would have been here too. I ended up at Spring Hill College – but that’s all another story.

I started out in search of a photo exhibit by Mev Puleo (another friend, now deceased, who attended SLU). I didn’t find the exhibit, but I did find an oasis of old buildings, young (and old) people who looked to be from everywhere, and an ambience that kept me just wandering around, wanting to go back to college again, or at least work somewhere on the campus! I attended the simple noon Mass in the Church chapel, and wish that I were close enough to go every day. I love the Jesuits.


Barbara said...

OOOH, those pictures take me back to my own days at SLU, the late sixties, the era of Vietnam war protest and post Vatican II liturgical experimentation. By the university Chapel, did you mean the Lower College Church or the upper one? Does the Lower College Church still exist? That was the centre of worship among the college students then. Their students do come from everywhere. I met kids from all over the States and a number of foreign countries. I recognize the quadrant behind Pius XII Library and Griesedieck Hall (old Greasy Deck) which was the boys' undergrad dorm. The statues are newer. The campus is quite expanded compared to that of my day.

beth said...

My sister says that SLU has really "cleaned up" since her day - that when she was here(late 60s) there was no "campus", just buildings downtown. Definitely no flowers, she said! I liked all the sculpture around. Right outside the front of the Church there is a park bench with a life size Jesus holding a baby (or young child)and pointing to the baby's heart. People sit on this bench, beside the sculpture, and wait for the bus. I suppose you could interpret the sculpture as pro-life symbol. I found it quite powerful, and taking the pro-life agenda much further than just abortion. I would have taken a photo of it, but I don't like taking photos of people without their permission.

The Chapel was in the lower part (basement?) of the Church, I think it was called Our Lady Chapel (or something like that. From the main church I walked down a steep and winding stairwell, then back (so that I think I was under the main altar of the main church). But after the mass was over, I realized that I could walk out a door and was just a little bit below ground.

Next week I'm going back to wander the SLU Art Museum.

Barbara said...

From what I have read from their publications, there was massive renovation of the Upper Church. During my time, it was a regular parish with more traditional overtones. Downstairs was reached only by a basement door off the small quadrangle between the College Church and the main administration building (name momentarily forgotten). I recall the windows that kept the space bright and looked out over gardens. The pews were wooden benches that used to destroy my nylons. It was all very simple. I guess this Lady Chapel is a renovation, which it probably needed.
I recall midnight Mass on Saturday (the daters' Mass) was always full and always edgy. The Sunday morning Mass -- at 10 or 11 -- was less edgy, more folky. The weekday Masses at noon were run by the Theology School and were thoughtful and sober. Yes, those Jesuits were great and still are!
It was so hard for all of us to leave that environment and return to our regular parishes. We were never the same.
Do write about the Art Museum. I recall they have some nice exhibits.

beth said...

You're right about never being the same since, Barbara :-) ... sometimes I think that I'm still looking for the kind of Catholicism I found in college - like I somehow need it to complete myself.

The Lower Level Lady Chapel sounds like the same place you found those "edgy" Masses (I love that description: edgy) I'll take some photos of it next week. I was really captivated by something there. The noon crowd consisted of some old people, some middle aged people who looked to be teachers, and a few students who appeared (to me) to be very devout. Like, they bowed before receiving communion. I had never seen that done before. Almost a low Japanese kind of bow. The priest who said the Mass was somewhat political (considering it was Sept 11) in that he urged non-retaliation of enemies and made allusions to the woundedness of our country in our need to go to war.

Barbara said...

When I used the word "edgy" I meant it. I remember a rock Mass one Pentecost in which the exit "hymn" was Come on Baby, Light my Fire. One can argue the appropriateness of that as a hymn or Hey Jude, which I seem to remember as well. But it pulled the kids in -- mind you, that was the late sixties.
I must confess I bow before receiving communion -- probably because the Japanese do so at their Masses. On the other side of the coin, I don't genuflect normally, but bow instead. I try not to make a big thing of it -- it's just me. I consider someone approaching the priest and then kneeling to receive to be rather conservative.
Looking forward to whatever you share from your visit to SLU.

beth said...

"Come on baby, light my fire!" - I love it! Maybe I'm just showing my age. Maybe, as college students, we needed that rebellious irreligiousity to make religion *real*.

Obviously it had a lot to do with Vatican2 and the Vietnam War and just being young ... a very interesting time to be coming of age.