I like to visit local churches when I'm on business travel. Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago and decided to drop in on Holy Name Cathedral on a Saturday afternoon. Knowing what I do about recent Catholic history in Chicago, I was expecting to see yet another example of "wreckovation". Sadly, I wasn't far off.
The exterior of the Cathedral is still quite lovely. Here are two photos:
And here's what the interior looks like today (apologies for the blur):
When I entered, the organist was playing some horrible 12-tone piece that seemed better suited for a slasher movie than for a Catholic cathedral. With that noise echoing throughout the vast space, it was impossible to pray. So instead, I went and visited the bookstore in the basement. To my surprise, the selection of books and religious items on sale was excellent and I walked out with a Byzantine/Russian style icon of Our Lady Hodegetria.
By the time I left the bookstore, the "music" had ceased so I decided to say a rosary. At that point, I went looking for the tabernacle. Of course, there was no sign of it in the apse, and for a moment, I felt a little like Mary Magdalene on Easter morning when she said, "They have taken my Lord away and I don't know where they have put him." I found what I assumed was the tabernacle in one of the two side "chapels" flanking the apse. Calling them chapels is a stretch, however, as there are no altars in either of them. As works of religious art, both are horrifying:
The tabernacle was worse:
It was a bit difficult to pray with these disturbing images in front of me, and the cynical part of me speculated that this was the whole point of having them there. But I persevered. At least the huge, stylized crucifix hanging over the altar wasn't completely awful. The rose windows were also quite beautiful, but I suspect these were left untouched from the original construction.
The rear of the cathedral was dominated by the organ, which had a foreboding appearance--almost like the warp core of the starship Enterprise: