We attended Mass at a Louisville parish yesterday. The church was probably built in the 1930's, in the traditional shape, and then ripped up inside, I imagine, around 1985. You know, altar put against the side, pews rearranged in a semi-circle around it. Which, if done well, can work, but it didn't in this case, mostly because of what they had done with the baptismal font and the tabernacle (of course) - the baptismal pool had been constructed in what was now the rear of the Church, but was once the left-hand side altar space, I guess. The problem with it was that it, as well as the parts of the walls surrounding it, were constructed in this gray faux-rock stuff, with water flowing, and so on (and please note, I am all for big, prominent, baptismal pools, although as Michael has pointed out, in the ancient church which supposedly all the liturgists are trying to emulate, these big, tomb or cross-shaped baptismal pools were always in separate spaces - hence the name of the structure called a "baptistry." (Wasn't the Leaning Tower of Pisa a baptistry?)
Anyway, the total effect of this structure was not so much refreshing, sacred waters of baptism but the 11th hole at Putt-Putt.
And the tabernacle was literally stuck in a corner - even I, who can deal with a good chapel of reservation if it's attached to the Church in some way and, ideally, in some kind of dual design where the tabernacle is situated at a dividing point, if you will, giving it a place in one direction, in the church proper, and the other, in a smaller chapel.But here, it was just stuck in the corner - a small metal box with a candle flickering gamely. Weird.
But I have to say, after a very bad start (Visitors stand up and announce yourselves. No we didn't. Are you crazy?), things got much better, even from our vantage point in the uniquely-situated cry room (a glassed in portion of the choir loft). The priest prayed in measured tones and preached...well, he preached a homily that was actually structured, interesting and elevating. Note that first word: structured. He didn't wander. Worked from notes, but not in a stilted way. Preached on "wonder" - wonder at the gift of Eucharist, which is an intensification of our wonder for all God has done, the call to take the Jesus we receive here out to the world...refreshing.