AN EMAIL FROM a parishioner of Saint Mary's Church, in Brussels, Illinois, informed me that the church was destroyed by a fire that sparked during the Christmas Vigil Mass. Firefighters and parishioners bravely managed to save many movable items in the church, including vestments, chalices, and statues, but the building itself is a total loss; fortunately, no one was injured, nor were adjacent properties harmed.
News stories and videos of the fire can be found here, here, and here.
My article on the church, dating from March 2009, is here, and a few additional photos of the church can be viewed here.
The sanctuary of the church, as it was in March of 2009.
The church dates from the 1860s, and was the center of life in this town, which is about 90% Catholic. This is a significant loss for the parishioners, who nevertheless hope to rebuild. However, it seems difficult to hope that this church, which was one of the finest country churches in the region, could be rebuilt in a similar manner today. The sense of filial piety, the respect for pious ancestors who have gone before, has preserved this church through the decades, and the same piety can move us to tears over the church's loss.
We live in a world that was made very good, yet is fallen. We are to expect sorrow and loss in this “vale of tears,” and while our reason should judge our feelings, we ought to mourn the loss of the good things in this life, such as this church. Jesus wept, His mother is called Our Lady of Sorrows, and we are to bear our crosses and follow Him. “Behold, I make all things new:” all sorrow and pain works out for the best insofar as we are united to God’s Will.