Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Holy Cards, Coffee, and the Temple - to those who have a problem with church gift shops

A short thought. Even before my wife, Leone, took over the operation of the Café at the Ave Maria Gift Shop at the Cathedral Basilica, I heard many negative comments about the operation of both the gift shop and the café within the Cathedral building.

Critics most often cite the scripture story where Jesus drives out the buyers and the sellers from the temple as evidence that there should be no business undertakings in a church.

My first thought would be if Monsignor Benavente and Archbishop Apuron have no problem with it then perhaps we should reconsider our negative positions in the light of proper Church authority. Perhaps a polite inquiry would be the Christian thing to do.

However, I find it a bit funny how quickly Catholics can become scripture scholars when we need to back up a personal opinion. Never mind that we have no idea where to find it in the Bible…or perhaps even where to find a Bible!

For your reference the passage can be found at Matthew 21:12-13:

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and
buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of
those who were selling doves. And he said to them, "It is written: 'My house
shall be a house of prayer,' but you are making it a den of thieves."

The real issue is whether or not the gift shop and café is included in the “temple” proper – the “house of prayer”.

The answer is NO. The gift shop and the café are not “in” the “temple”. They are attached to it in the same way that the bathrooms, the radio station, the Catholic Cemeteries office, the parish office, and the soon to be completed museum, are attached to it. But the temple, the place of prayer, is not intruded upon by any of these other offices or places of activity.

Rather than fret over the “buying and selling” I would be more concerned over Jesus’ desire that His Father’s house be a “house of prayer”. Given the amount of conversation and visiting that goes on before and after our Masses within “the temple”, and even as we go to and from Holy Communion, I would say that we have much more to be concerned about in offending the Father in that regard than the folks selling coffee and holy cards next door.
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