Saturday, January 30, 2016


1980's wreck-o-vation not that bad by some standards, but note how old high altar and reredos are dismantled, and new sanctuary thrust into the nave so seating can be on three sides. After my comments below, a secular newspaper in Brooklyn, New York covers the restoration that is on-going now.
What in the world possessed so many priests led renovating committees of the 1970's and 80's to destroy works of art in churches around the world?

I will tell you as I was imbued with this fad too but only for a short time until I realized that this was no panacea of renewal for the Church but rather the path to hell paved with good intentions.

1. Tabernacles had to be removed from the altar area so that the poor, stupid laity wouldn't be confused by the two "real presences" of the Lord, one in the tabernacle even before the Mass began and the real presence "confected" at the altar during the Holy Meal, what many use to call the Holy Sacrifice. (At least this presumed that everyone believed in one or the other).

2. Then there was a desire to bring the altar (and thus our Lord) closer to the people. Thus old high altars and reredos where dismantled and junked and new table like altars for the Holy Meal were trust into the nave of the church and usually one or two steps up with ambo, priest's chair and pews crowded around it in a fan or semi-circular shape. At least, the idea was to get our Lord closer to the people. Unfortunately, only the first couple of rows of pews or flexible seating could even see the altar and priest and whoever did whatever in a full church. In reality, this bright idea of bringing the altar closer to the people actually backfired and no one could see anything beyond the first two rows.

This happened in my first assignment where we did a "Rambusch" renovation. The altar was brought forward and lowered from five steps ups to only two. Following the dedication I had numerous people tell me they couldn't see the altar anymore from where they sat.

With all the renovations to the liturgy and the churches that celebrate the Holy Meal, we've gone from about 90% of Catholics attending Mass each Sunday to about 12 percent in the more liberal parts of our country to about 30% in the south and other places that are more conservative and thus more open to the Faith and publicly living it.

But here's a heartwarming story that tells you so much about what silly, insensitive, but well meaning priests did to churches back in the 70's and 80's:
Courier Life’s

Second coming! Church’s rescued relic restored

It’s the resurrection!

An important piece of a Bath Beach church’s century-old altar has returned from the grave thanks to a pious parishioner whose de-shrine intervention saved it 30 years ago, his pastor said.

“The high altar is right in the center of the church, and the piece Bill saved is an important piece of it,” said the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant.

Bill Coppa rescued the face of St. Finbar Church’s tabernacle — where Catholics store what they believe is the body of Jesus Christ — from a garbage pile during a 1984 renovation. A previous pastor didn’t give a frock about the gilded marble masterpiece, but Coppa thought trashing it was a sin, so he put it in his den, he said.

“I ran back in and I said ‘Father! There’s this beautiful piece there, and it’s thrown in the trash,’ and I asked if I could take it,” Coppa said. “He didn’t mind, so I grabbed it, and I’ve had it in my home office for 32 years.”

The congregation is in the midst of a larger renovation, and Coppa jumped at the chance to return the relic, he said.

Gelfant discovered two other pieces of the altar in a forgotten storeroom shortly after inheriting the flock in 2010, and the revelation inspired him to return the church to its former glory, he said.

“Those two great finds sparked the possibility we could restore it to the way it was,” Gelfant said.

Parishioners raised nearly a million dollars for the renovations, which started in October 2015. The church is tearing up 30-year-old tile to reveal the main sanctuary’s original terrazzo floor, sprucing up pews, and rehabbing the building’s exterior.

Gelfant expects they’ll resurrect the sanctuary, including the altar, in time for Easter, and anticipates the rest done in the following months.

The project has many long-time parishioners excited, and some handy churchgoers even volunteered their talent, Gelfant said.

“The people are so proud they’re getting their church back, and some have donated their labor — it’s been a real community effort,” he said. “People were never really happy with the 1984 renovations, a lot of them called it a ‘wreck-o-vation.’

My father’s keeper: Bill and Jean Coppa saved a piece of Saint Finbar Church’s tabernacle during a renovation 30 years ago, and the piece will finally return to its rightful place as part of a new restoration to bring the house of worship back to its original form.


Dialogue said...

When you ask, "what in the world possessed" them, I think it was the spirit of the world, the devil, who possessed them to desecrate the House of God. However, while there were likely some genuine heretics among them, I doubt that most priests of the era truly intended to do anything other that what they were supposed to do. But in the midst of the confusion, they failed to distinguish Tradition from perdition.

Lesson: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful". (BXVI)

TJM said...

the 70s and 80s - Catholic "barbarism" at its finest! That's when I realized many of the clergy were enemies of the Faith and no longer deserved my respect. I told them in no unvarnished terms what I thought and never regretted it. And I also said it with money - I cut them off

Anonymous said...

When you say rest of the world actually it happened in mostly the Western world. More than 70% of Catholics still go to Sunday mass in the countries that this didn't happen.

Fr Martin Fox said...

What's striking is that the progressives, who are the ones who imposed this on the Church, are utterly silent as parishes coast to coast undo the damage they wrought. They offer no defense. They are Sargeant-Schultz silent: "I know nothink!" about it all.

Anonymous said...

Funny that our own people continued what the heretical Protestants started and we completed it after Vatican II, destroying our high altars, communion rails, statues, kneelers and Rome celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Protestant rebellion.

TJM said...

Father Fox, and these progressives aka dictators, spent millions on "simplyfying" the sanctuaries,while ripping off the faithful of their money and their rightrful heritage.