Another perspective on ad orientem--the priest leading
Laura and I have been to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which is shown in the first picture. It is really remarkable. It would be difficult to imagine an "irreverent" Mass in that building. To me, that suggests how important architecture and our physical surroundings are to our worship and liturgy.Of course, Father, the architecture of your "Cathedral" tends toward the reverential as well.
I'm a big fan of the more traditional forms of Catholic worship and architectural Church design. There is a book called "Ugly As Sin"http://www.sophiainstitute.com/client/email_ads/LINK_ugly.htmlwith the subtitle, "Why They Changed Our Churchesfrom Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces -- and How We Can Change Them Back Again." The author argues that, "the problem with new-style churchesisn't just that they're ugly -- they actually distort the Faith and lead Catholics away from Catholicism."I know that there are some people who say that we don't *need* the ornate and elaborate to have a valid religious experience during Mass, but I certainly get more out of it when I have such beautiful reminders of the life of Christ and the saints in the stained glass windows of St Joseph Church in Macon and in other more cathedral-like churches.
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