3800 Montrose Blvd
Houston, TX 77006
January 2004–I was amazed the first time I saw The Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas; the building was awesome and very different from any other church that I had ever seen, very modern. It is a white building with a gold dome on the roof that has a golden cross on top of it. What caught my eye was that the outside of it looks like there is a black wall running right through the middle of it like if it was cutting the whole building in half. That wall looks like it is made of black marble bricks that shine with the sun light. On the left side of it there is a block cut out with three big bells that strike every hour and once every half-hour. Under the bells are six blocks cut out that give the wall a window like appearance. Connected to both sides of the chapel are buildings, the Welder Hall and the Jones Hall. All the buildings have small flowerbeds going all around them, filled with bright colored flowers that light up the place. What I thought was most interesting about the building itself was that you don’t enter through a door, you enter through an opening. The front side of the building is like if the wall was a sheet of paper just hanging down from it giving entrance to who ever was in need of worship.
As you walk in to the opening, you go into a waiting area like a little lobby. There are three oak wood benches on both sides that have lights under them lighting from the ground up. Over the benches are two big glass slides; one of them has the University of St. Thomas’ founders printed on it and the other has the Chapels of St. Basil’s “Special Gifts” and “In Memory of” printed on it.
The entrance to the inside of the chapel has three glass doors and in between them is a big board that is full of pictures of events that have occurred throughout the university. Once you open the doors and go in to the chapel, you see the altar because it is right in front of you, but the left wall catches your eye instantly. There is a huge crucifix cut in to the wall kind of slanted that serves as a window letting natural light fill the room. Next to it is a confession room that sits in the back corner of the chapel. The Stations of the Cross are carved into the white wall. Every church has the Stations of the Cross on its walls, usually with pictures or small statues, but the ones in here are actually carved into the white sheet rock wall. If you do not know what they are, let me explain; The Stations of the Cross are reflections of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. You walk by them praying and contemplating His death and your own life and faith. Each station contains three elements: a short verse, a brief meditation, and a prayer. These prayers and meditations can be done a lone or with a group. The stations are as followed:
1. Jesus is condemned to die (Responding to misjudgment).
2. Jesus is forced to carry the instrument of his own death (Bearing burdens).
3. Jesus falls for the first time (Falling and failing).
4. Jesus meets his mother (Faith in each other).
5. Simon carries Jesus’ cross (Helping friends).
6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face (Helping strangers).
7. Jesus falls again (Continuing with confidence).
8. The women of Jerusalem mourn for Jesus (Sharing faith).
9. Jesus falls a third time (Remembering Jesus).
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments (Being a fool for Jesus).
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross (Accepting the gift of life).
12. Jesus dies on the cross (Giving our lives to Jesus).
13. Jesus is taken down form the cross (Having courage).
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb (Changing out lives)
Next to the altar there is a square that comes out of the wall with a small box inside of it; this box holds the body and blood of Jesus. It is made of some copper looking metal and has the figures of angels molded on the outside of it as if they where guarding it. Beside it is a candle that is always burning, this means that the presence of God is within. There are benches next to it for personal prayer and worship. These benches aren’t usually used during regular Sunday service, the main purpose of them is for people to use when they are praying alone.
On the altar, there is a table made of gray marble stone with two white candles and a white tablecloth. The table on the altar must always have a white table cloth on it because it represents purity. In front of it are two glass vases with bright, pink, star lilies, red roses, yellow tulips and white baby’s breath. Behind the table are six tall, gray candleholders with white candles on them. On the wall behind it is a cross carved into the wall with a wooden image of Jesus floating in front of it (its not actually floating but the invisible strings give it that appearance).
Next to the altar is a small, covered section for the choir, it has the piano and chairs for them to sit in. They play music during mass; they sing the opening prayer, the psalms, the Our Father, the alleluia before the sermon, and the closing prayer. This section is covered with a short wooden wall that only lets you see them from the neck up when they are sitting down.
On the right wall there is one big shelf built into it with a dome popped out over it with light coming down from it. Inside of it there is a metal statue of the Shrine of Our Lady holding baby Jesus in her lap. It looks very antique and kind of doesn’t go with the modern style of the chapel. It has a small glass vase next to it with a single yellow rose in it. The dome that is on the roof of the chapel has a window that lets sun light come down from it lighting up the entire chapel. The pews are made of dark brown wood and they are lined evenly throughout the white marble floor.
As a strong believer of God, I truly recommend you go visit this place if you are in need of prayer and worship or if you just feel like being a little more on the spiritual side. It is a quiet and extremely spiritual place to be when talking to God. Being in a chapel and knowing that God is right there with you is just the most amazing feeling one can have. Any person of any religion is more than welcome to go in to the Chapel of St. Basil. You should just sit there for an hour or two and think about yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, school, or anything that pops up in your mind. Whatever problem you may be having, I almost guarantee that by the time you leave you will be so relieved of your mind and soul like if you have just taken a sack of rocks off your back. God is with you wherever you are but you truly feel his presence when you are in His place the Chapel of St. Basil!