Saturday, April 29, 2017


I see from a Crux post by South Carolinian (all South Carolinians are smart) Father Dwight Longenecker, that  the main seminary chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio has once again be renovated, maybe the fourth time in 40 years. The most recent is a restoration and hits the ball out of the park! Here is the restoration and below it is what it originally looked like and what it became in the 1980's:

Yet Father Longenecker writes that this is what one commentator from the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) says:

Not everyone is happy with the restoration and renovation movement. Writing at National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) Peter Feuerherd quotes Michael deSanctis-a liturgical consultant and theology professor at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. DeSanctis believes the trend for restoration and renovation is a case of “new clericalism imposing old ways on modern architecture.”

DeSanctis opines, “Architecture is how we express our liturgy… the generation of post-Vatican II priests routinely came out of the sanctuary to interact with their parishioners during liturgy. They built churches with a focus on circular design, to bring the congregation closer together, as well as lowered the altar to bring the priest closer to the congregation. But that has changed with the emergence of many younger clergy, schooled in seminary with the thought of Pope Benedict, who re-emphasized clerical distinctions.”
st therese afteri
St. Therese of Lisieux church in Sugarland, Texas, after its renovation. (Credit: Fr. Dwight Longenecker.)
DCF 1.0
St. Therese of Lisieux church in Sugarland, Texas, before its renovation. (Credit: Fr. Dwight Longenecker.)

Feuerherd quotes DeSanctis, “Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action.”

It is surprising that DeSanctis who is a church building consultant does not seem to be aware of the Catholic teaching about this matter. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that,

“The People of God which is gathered for Mass is coherently and hierarchically ordered…Hence the general arrangement of the sacred building must be such that in some way it conveys the image of the assembled congregation and allows the appropriate ordering of all the participants… the sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers exercise their functions. It should be appropriately marked off from the body of the church either by its being somewhat elevated or by a particular structure and ornamentation.”

And then think of the horrible controversy the previous Benedictine Archbishop of Milwaukee did to the once magnificent Milwaukee Cathedral in the early 2000's but with a 1970's mentality:

But when a negative comment about the wreckovation of the Milwaukee Cathedral by Father Richard Vosko who influeneced so many wreckovations of traditional churches in an iconoclastic way was posted on Praytell in conjunction with an interview with Fr. Vosko, this was Rita Ferrone's reaction to the renovation  her former Archbishop ordered be done to his cathedral who then after an immoral homosexual affair paid off his disgruntled lover with over $400,000 in diocesan funds, by any measure what would be called a blatant embezzlement:

Frankly, I am not happy to see a broadside on the Milwaukee cathedral on this thread — this is off topic, and there is not even remotely enough information about it in the post on which to conduct an informed discussion about that design. I happen to know a lot about it, but this is not the subject of this thread. The topic here is the interview.

So much for worship, wit and wisdom!


Cletus Ordo said...

“Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action.”

Such comments clearly reveal the unrelenting hatred modernist "Catholics" have for the history and Tradition of their Church as well as their agenda for its future. WHO ELSE BUT THE CLERGY can make the liturgical action of the Liturgy of the Eucharist happen? Sending the laity to go running around the sanctuary might be a feel-good tactic for people who can only see the Church through a political "social justice" lens (like just about every bishop in the USCCB) but it does not meet the needs of the congregation who are starving for what is rightfully theirs and what the modern Church denies them. Just looking at the bare-walls of the pre-restoration photos is a powerful reminder of the sheer emptiness of "modern" Catholicism. Is it any wonder that the only segment of the Church showing any kind of sustained growth is found in the Traditionalist parishes?

We are so full of ourselves. The history of the Church since Vatican II shows a Church willing to embrace every new thing, completely disrespect (and disregard) its past and the intellectual dishonesty of clerics who can't see that they are a mere blip on the timeline of Church history.

Yes, I guess I've got an opinion about all this.

ByzRC said...

A quick glance at the Milwaukee Cathedral before and after might leave the viewer wondering why they are now worshiping a pipe organ instead of our Lord on the high altar. Then, you notice the unadorned table in the closed circle that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke about in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy. To me, this, unfortunately, is such a study in contracts, such a rejection of tradition and organic growth that I would find it to be distracting if I attended there. I believe I read sometime back in a source I cannot readily site that Fr. Vosko's designs endeavored to 'addresses the current needs of the faithful' I believe it said. Accuracy of that quote aside, how this renovation addresses whatever constitutes 'current' is difficult to determine without an explanation by its designer. At a minimum, shouldn't the altar table be covered with a baldachino unless that is what that abstract crown/nail/corpus structure is trying to represent? Unfortunately, a future bishop will likely end up wasting time and money restoring a tradition arrangement of fixtures that should never have been disturbed in the first place. How disrespectful to that grand building and all who saved and donated to build a monument to pass along to future generations!

The Pontifical College. Very beautiful, but, when compared to the original photo, it is a compromise in that there is now a smaller altar of the sacrament in place of the high altar and a lower, competing altar of sacrifice. Sugarland Texas. I believe this was designed by Duncan Stroik and all I will say is this is a wonderful renovation introducing tradition to a structure that was totally lacking in that regard. Unfortunately, current liturgical norms again leaves that compromise of competing fixtures vis-a-vis the altar and tabernacle. My point, "Old" church architecture was so wonderfully simple. High altar and (most of the time) 2 side altars. On the whole (ignoring cathedral arrangements etc), so reassuringly consistent. Restoring the high altar with tabernacle would eliminate the many tiresome versions of pedestals, posts, shelves, towers, niches and minor 'altar' structures that are now found in most of our churches.

Joseph Johnson said...

I believe it was Pope Benedict XVI who once said or wrote that the altar and cross cannot be separated. Obviously, he was referring to the theological critical connection between Calvary and the Mass but the current tendency to physically separate the altar, cross and tabernacle subconsciously (at least to me) blunts the teaching that the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of the same Sacrifice on Christ on Calvary and the Real Presence in the Eucharist which connects each of us personally with that Sacrifice. Sorry, when I bow before the altar, I bow before this whole unified "package"---not just the table altar upon which the Sacrifice is offered. It is the crucifix, and artistic representation to remind us of Christ's Sacrifice on Cross (the whole raison d'etre for the Mass) and His resulting Real Presence in the Eucharist (which is confected on that altar)as well as the altar of that same Sacrifice (which can be "vested" in the color of the day because it "represents" Christ--but only as a symbol) which cannot be separated (in my little mind) when I show reverence to my Lord and my God. The liturgists' academic insistence on separating the altar (from tabernacle and cross) for reverence is a counterproductive distraction in my personal spirituality. Does this make me a heretic?

John Nolan said...

In Liverpool there are two cathedrals, one Anglican and one Catholic. This is unusual; when the Catholic hierarchy was restored in 1850 it was not allowed to appropriate the Anglican (and former Catholic) dioceses and titles. This was not reciprocal, and the Anglicans created a diocese in Liverpool after the establishment therein of the Catholic archdiocese.

The Anglican cathedral is a massive neo-gothic edifice designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, a Catholic. Begun in 1901, it took over three quarters of a century to complete. The original design for the Catholic cathedral (by Edwin Lutyens) proved too expensive to execute, and what is now the Metropolitan cathedral was built to a modernist design by the non-Catholic Frederick Gibberd; it took a mere five years to complete (1962-1967).

It is a 'church in the round' with a central altar and has had mixed reviews. it is jocularly referred to as 'Paddy's wigwam' and the 'Mersey funnel'. It soon developed structural faults which caused the archdiocese to sue the architect. For the record, I find the Anglican cathedral monumental but strangely lifeless; whereas despite my traditionalist views the interior of Gibberd's building is warm and inspiring. There is nothing of pastiche about it, and it needs to be seen in the context of the architecture of the time. Basil Spence's Coventry cathedral (opened 1962) is also a modern take on church architecture, albeit more 'traditional'.

Gibberd's design was adopted, after world-wide competition, in 1959, before the Second Vatican Council and when the English hierarchy was notably conservative. One advantage of a central altar is that the priest has to turn his back on someone!