Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Today’s  book is a bit off-the-wall, I know, but I think this is an excellent book for those of us with an insatiable need to know random stuff. 

There really isn’t any good reason to keep building ugly post-VII churches.

Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy by Denis McNamara; Foreword by Scott Hahn.  Here is what the publisher says about it:

This unique book delves into the deep meanings of liturgical art and architecture, and by association, the Sacred Liturgy itself. It is meant to help pastors, architects, artists, members of building committees, seminarians, and everyone interested in liturgical art and architecture come to grips with the many competing themes which are at work in church buildings today. The object of Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy is help the reader to drink deeply from the wells of the tradition, to look with fresh eyes at things thought to be outdated or meaningless, and glean the principles which underlie the richness of the Catholic faith.

  • Part one presents an emerging area of study: Architectural Theology
  • Part two introduces the readers for the first time to the scriptural foundations of church architecture
  • Part three focuses on the classical tradition of architecture
  • Part four examines iconography as eschatological flash and
  • Part five concludes with a discussion of the Twentieth Century and where we are now in the Age of the Church.

Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy is a  foundational sourcebook for studying, designing, building, and renovating Catholic churches, this book is intended to find the middle of the road between differing and sometimes conflicting theories of liturgical architecture.  It will give architects and building committees the theological language and tools to understand the elements of church design by examining past architecture and will help decision makers link these principles to their current building projects.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

An interview from the Catholic News Agency with Abbot Michael John Zielinski, Vice President of the Pontifical Council for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and Sacred Archeology about our Holy Father, the awesome BXVI.  JPII spoke often of the importance of beauty too, so as the Abbott says, this is nothing new.  What IS new is the approach of Pope Benedict to the topic.  I don’t know what it is about this pope but he really seems to get to the heart of the matter, in grace, charity, patience, faithfulness and rationality. 

Vatican City, Dec 2, 2009 / 01:23 pm (CNA).- On November 22, Pope Benedict XVI attracted the eyes of the world to the Sistine Chapel where he welcomed a group of 250 international artists and urged them to renew an old friendship in the “quest for beauty.”  CNA interviewed Abbot Michael John Zielinski, Vice President of the Pontifical Council for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and Sacred Archeology, for further insight into the meaning of this ‘quest’ and its significance in this Papacy.

Commenting on the “via pulchritudinis,” beauty as a way to God, and the Holy Father’s recent emphasis on it, the Benedictine abbot replied, “This is nothing new.  Take a look at Pope Benedict XVI’s liturgy.  The Pope’s liturgy is not a return to tradition, it’s the way to tradition.  It is clearly the expression of… continuity.  He’s bringing out, as it were, making manifest the way of beauty to God.”

Zielinski then mused on the Pope’s awareness, “Have you seen him around people?  He listens very carefully.  He observes.”  The abbot recalled that during the Pope’s audiences, “he has these penetrating eyes.  He doesn’t observe the mass (of people), he observes the individuals…  In his spiritual life, he is also very observant.  He understands the needs of the Church.”

“I think we’ll truly understand this Pontificate in the future because he’s taking us to our principles,” opined the abbot.  “In a world where there’s inflation of words and images, his life of silence, prayer and study is truly a prophetic act today.”

Abbot Michael John alluded to a quote from Thomas Merton, the 20th Century Catholic writer, who once said, “prayer is losing time for God.”

“The Pope believes that ‘losing’ that time is important… You are prepared for the next life in that time.”

You might notice also, said the Benedictine, that the Pope’s “physical self is not over the top, you never see him moving about (exaggeratedly)…, whereas his thought is extensive, it has infinite horizons.”

“His Pontificate is so different from the last one and yet so complementary.”

The abbot the remarked that there is a reform ongoing in the Church, “the reform of Benedict XVI.”

Abbot Michael John said we will soon begin to see the fruits of the Pope’s “reform.”  “He’s preparing the younger generations.  He’s offering them a vision, a vision of life, the world and the church and what it means to be a Christian today.  He’s preparing us, opening the eyes of our hearts.”

“The vision,” Zielinski added, “is a hidden sense, a hidden desire, that of energy and force, and from this vision will come forth new life, … new forms, new expressions, new representations.”

“In Australia at World Youth Day, the young boys and girls returned home with eyes full of vision, and now,” he said, “the world is waiting to see what that vision is going to produce; they’ll write books, write music, build their houses, churches and cities.”

“Hopefully, it will be a life of peace and justice, … a life that can give witness to the Giver of life.”

American expert speaks on significance of Papal vision of beauty.

Read Full Post »

Via Rome Reports, I have this video and transcript of our awesome pope addressing one of my favorite topics:  art as a conduit of grace.

November 18, 2009. My dear brothers and sisters, i have been speaking in recent weeks about medieval theology, and would now like to turn my attention to how the Christian faith of the Middle Ages inspired some of the greatest works of art of all time: the cathedrals of Europe.
Romanesque cathedrals are distinctive for their size and for introducing to churches beautiful sculpture, including the image of Christ as the Universal Judge and the Gate of Heaven. By entering through Him, as it were, the faithful enter a space and even a time different from everyday life, somewhere they can anticipate eternal life through their participation in the liturgy.

Gradually, Gothic architecture replaced the Romanesque, adding height and luminosity to the previous style. The Gothic cathedral translates the aspirations of the soul into architectural lines, and is a synthesis between faith, art and beauty which still raises our hearts and minds to God today. When faith encounters art, in particular in the liturgy, a profound synthesis is created, making visible the Invisible, and the two great architectural styles of the Middle Ages demonstrate how beauty is a powerful means to draw us closer to the Mystery of God. May the Lord help us to rediscover that “way of beauty”, surely one of the best ways to know and to love Almighty God.  [emphasis mine]

Amen.

Read Full Post »

La Pieta by an evangelist named Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence   Countless conversions have occurred at its pedestal.

La Pieta by an evangelist named Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence. Countless conversions have occurred at its pedestal.

From Paulist Father Tom Holahan at the Catholic News Service Blog (via Intentional Disciples) comes this beautiful description of the evangelizing qualities of Rome:

Rome, in its way, is a 500-year-old evangelization machine. The buildings and art created as a response to the Protestant critique still call to people who are searching and create a mood of reflection. Just before I arrived in Rome, I met an industrial psychologist who was a Christian but now follows a Native American practice. He told me that, when he went to the Vatican, sunbeams from the dome of the church hit Michelangelo’s Pieta and brought tears to his eyes.

A week ago I heard from two nuns, dressed in habits, who were stopped on the street by a Japanese tourist. She wanted to know, could they possibly spare a few moments to explain Christianity to her? Yesterday a Syrian found his way to our English-speaking church (he knew no Italian) asking the same question. He told me he had no particular faith, but he had been impressed with the Syrian Orthodox while in his own country and now, before he had to leave the country because of a document problem, he wanted to find out more. He asked his questions urgently, “And, so, Jesus was the Son of God?” “He promised eternal life?” Searching Americans approach the faith issue differently. One recently told me he “gave up on God” when the Supreme Being did not cure his depression and taking a little pill did. I said there may come a time when something can’t be fixed, then what?

Now friends, when you hear nonsense like “the Pope should sell the Vatican and give the money away to the poor”, you know the answer for yourself.  Even if the Pope could sell off Vatican treasures (he can’t) and there were someone to buy them (who could afford the price tag of the Pauline Chapel?), why would we sell off one of the best conversion-delivery systems we have?  That is why we are here, to bring ourselves closer to our Lord and bring all the world the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The wonder that is Rome– the collection of centuries of sacred art, architecture, and culture– belongs to all of us, rich and poor alike, Italian, American, Japanese, Syrian, Catholic or Agnostic who may walk around not only Rome but within the Vatican and share in their treasures, and bask in their beauty.  It is this beauty through which God permits His grace to flow, changing minds and converting hearts.   This is what Pope John Paul the Second called “the beauty that saves.”  Fr. Holahan is right:  Rome is an evangelization machine.

The Church has long recognized the power of the sacred arts to communicate truth and to turn souls devoutly toward Christ. Throughout Christian history, the Church has commissioned great works of art, architecture, and music to advance her mission of worship, catechesis, and evangelization, inviting the world more deeply into the mysteries of the faith.–The Foundation for Sacred Arts Mission Statement

Rather than feed the poor for a day, let’s give them the food of eternal life.

Read Full Post »

St. Stephens Cathedral in Metz.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Metz.

I came across this picture tonight.  It is an interior photo of the very tall nave in the Metz Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz).  The nave it shows is over 40 meters high!   That’s impressive, but that fact is not why I am posting this photo. 

As I was admiring the beauty of the cathedral, I noted that it has chairs instead of pews.  My very first thought was about how hard it would be to set out all of those chairs.  My next thought was, boy, I sure bet it’s difficult to keep all them straightly aligned, they must be knocked about pretty constantly….My next thought (stick with me, my thought process is rather tangential) was remembering that all the great churches of Europe lacked pews and chairs, and I immediately went into my next thought about how many thousands millions of Catholics through the centuries got down on their knees on the cold stone floor to pray and worship our Lord.   Not for timed “one hour masses.”  No, these were full on liturgical, Gregorian chanted, only the ordained priests touched the sacrament, loooong affairs.  Several times a dayEveryday.  When it was time to kneel, our predecessors got down on the stone…or tile…or bare floor.  On. Their. Knees.  And NOW we come to the reason why I posted the picture of the beautiful Metz Cathedral.  Seeing this picture reminded me….  

I remembered something my mom told me when I was a little girl.  It was a moment that will stay with me all of my life.  We were getting ready to go to church for Good Friday.  My mom told me that when she herself was a girl, she was moved to see, every Good Friday, all the faithful Polish men of her parish approaching the Wood of the Cross on their knees, and weeping profusely.  She told me, “Crying, they were crying.  Gruff men, men like Grandpa!”  And she repeated, shaking her head in awe, “They went the whole way on their knees!  on the hard floor!”  Though decades had passed, I could still hear the awe and emotion in my mom’s voice.

I remark this kind of faith and adoration, to approach our Lord in humility, in suffering, in sacrifice, in total gratitude.   Would that today we see such faith! 

I don’t know when I became aware that Protestants don’t kneel.  I do not know when I noticed a lack of kneelers in their churches.  But Catholics kneel.  I have always thought of our kneeling-ness.  And that reminds me of another family story.   Whenever we would see my mom’s extended family, my dad would tell the story of attending Mass early in my parents’ marriage with my mom’s cousin, the nun.   She stood next to my dad (then a Lutheran) and throughout the Mass “barked orders under her breath like a drill sergeant –‘Sit!Kneel!Stand!’”  I still think of that story at odd times and hear in my head, “Sit! Kneel! Stand!”  It makes me smile.  I love the kneeling.  I love the Church for kneeling.  It makes us special because it makes us submissive.   But over the decades, I have noticed a sad trend away from kneeling during Mass, even before and after Eucharist.   

Because of that story my mom told me when I was a kid, my attitude about kneeling during the Mass is completely different than most modern Catholics.  For instance, at my parish we have a few pew sections where there are no kneelers.  So,  I make sure that my family is the one which gets one of the ‘no kneeler pews’.  We are kneelers in my family, and I would just as soon that it be my kids and me on our knees on the uncomfortable floor, than another family which most likely would then feel permitted to sit all through the Mass.  I tell my kids, “With all Christ suffered for us, we can kneel on the carpet for 15 minutes.”  When our knees hurt, we know to think, “Thank you, Lord, for letting us share in your suffering.”  (When we first started doing this, the kids weren’t too happy but now they never complain.)    I have found that our example sometimes seems to affect others in ‘no kneeler pews’, although that is not why we are doing it.  We do it because we can choose to do it, we do it as a love offering to our fellow parishioners so that they don’t have to, and even more importantly, we do it so that they will not be tempted to ‘sit out’ the worship.  We are helping them avoid this near occasion of …ingratitude and complacency

In our modern society, we might think it is undignified to kneel.  We might feel like it is uncomfortable and unnecessary.  But kneeling has never been comfortable or dignified.  The whole point, in fact the very reason why kneeling is NECESSARY, is because it demonstrates physically that we honor God, and submit to His Will.  When we worship God, a necessary part of the worship is to acknowledge that He is great, and we are…not.  If we cannot prostrate ourselves before our Lord, I fear our faith is shallow and our self-importance deep. 

We are not doing God a favor by being in church on Sunday.  We are not working our way into God’s good graces.  We are allowed, through God’s infinite mercy, to be filled with all the blessings that the Mass imparts, to witness a miracle every Eucharist, to join in Christ’s divinity through it.  We are honored and we are humbled and we say, “For you alone are the Holy One!  You alone are the Lord!  You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ!” 

The LORD’S fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench.  Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”  — 1 Kings 18:39

Prayer:   Jesus, You graciously and mercifully bore our sins upon Your back, suffering not only torture and death, but humiliation and scorn.  Thank you!  Lord, I beg You to work in me a miracle–convert my heart to love You with a fullness that drives out selfish thoughts for myself.  Do not permit that my pride keep me from worshipping You in true love, as You deserve.  Lord, You bring all sinners who seek You to forgiveness and grace.  Fill me with grace now, I humbly ask.  Amen.

Read Full Post »