Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I've posted a couple of videos of the church in Brooklyn that went through a much needed restoration of a renovation gone wild in the 1970's, what some call a wreckovation. Yes, in the 1970's with reckless abandon, many wonderful, historic churches went through an iconoclasm not seen since the Reformation. These iconoclastic renovations deformed the communities that had to worship in them and often led to a decline in the Catholic faith of the participants in Masses held in these sterile, hostile environments.

Here is the Brooklyn Church's look after a wreckovation and its restoration and dedication. It must have cost a mint to do it, but it was worth it!

At another blog, where I copy these images, is the church of a deacon who posts there. This wreckovation really isn't a wreckovation, but is so dated by what was done to a historic, traditionally designed church in the 1970's led by such progressive Catholic renovating companies, that made millions do this sort of thing, like Rambusch of New York.

This is their classic design for a platform for sacred actions. At least nothing was disturbed in the original sanctuary, not even the altar railing. They simply removed pews and forced this look on a once and still beautiful church. It is simply an aberration, the fly in the ointment that can be swatted out of the way in a single day. Simply look at this imposed platform with its weak furniture and compare it to the original.

Some Catholics, and this once glorious parish is an extremely small parish, and no wonder with liturgies acted out on this platform, is stuck in the 1970's. Most of us of that period are on the end stage of life, not the beginning. I wonder how many were in their RCIA? One or two probably.

This parish celebrates its ecclesiology through a platform imposed in the center of the congregation. Prior to that this parish celebrated Christ the head of the Church without whom there would be no ecclesiology. The Sacred Mysteries depend on Christ and if there is only Christ, there is hope for the world. But an ecclesial community closed in on itself during worship as symbolized by the platform in this church will surely wither as this congregation has.

The only good thing is that this church can be restored overnight! When you look at the glorious old high altar and sanctuary and look at what was imposed on this jewel, it is like a diamond with a flaw and what a flaw it is and how easy to remove it! Note how weak the imposed fiasco is in terms of quality, style and permanence compared to the original. Can you imagine how people in the 1970's in this parish must of felt when this was imposed on this church?


Templar said...

I guess it's just me, but I simply find no beauty in Table Altars. Even one as inherently beautiful as the one at St. Joe's is not beautiful in it's application. I find that they all drag my eyes, mind and heart down to the horizontal plane, when I want them to look up, and in so doing any beauty inherent to them to forfeit.

Carol H. said...

That stage/platform is basically the architectural equivalent of a clown-nose.

I'll bet that whoever designed this was not Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Is it required to have an altar table in churches nowadays? Particularly new churches? Will a Bishop force one to be had?

Православный физик said...

The free-standing altar has a place in both the East and the West. I think the free-standing altar can work, subject to the architecture of the place. For this renovation...the free standing altar distracts from the high altar that's already there. (Although the renovation otherwise is beautiful and very well done)

What I really don't like are cubic altars in Roman Churches...they do not fit at all and are not within our tradition.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

For new churches, based upon the Church's most ancient tradition, exemplified in all the major basilicas in Rome is the free standing altar. This is to be recovered in new churches, but by no means are attached altars and their reredos to be destroyed. A free standing altar can have a reredos behind it. In fact our old altar at St. Joseph is not the reredos to the new free standing altar and from the congregation it appears as one unit.

Anonymous said...

Certainly a new church CAN have a traditional high altar and no freestanding altar, right? The freestanding altar thing is a current preference, but not a requirement, right?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It would be the rare bishop who would allow that in new construction.

Православный физик said...

It was allowed in the Los Angeles Archdiocese at Holy Innocents in Long Beach, so non-free standing altars can be done