Dignity & beauty….
I prefer the church in the top picture. It reminds me of Heaven. The bottom picture reminds me of a hotel conference room.
I think the better question is when are structures too simple/underdone to be useful tools for reflection and evangelization? Another question that comes to mind is why do these older masterpieces continually have to defend themselves?
As I've mentioned before, your current church has potential but, in current form, it leaves me a bit cold. A little creativity could have made it a bit more embellished at little additional cost.
Actually, real Catholics believe that the Mass is the Mass, whether celebrated in an African hut, a medieval Gothic cathedral, or a sumptuous baroque church.The post-Vatican II apparatchiks of the Church started laying out precise guidelines as to church architecture and internal layout, and most of it turned out to be lamentable. At the same time they did their best to ensure that the Mass should be as dull as possible in order to suit every environment.They had some success, but overall they have failed. They took no account of what the ordinary faithful wanted. Many of them professed a high-minded holiness but it was also extremely condescending. I despised them then, and I have nothing but contempt for their present-day acolytes.
This is an emotional topic as, in so many instances, we have culturally gone from emotional structures to that which is almost lacking emotion in its sterility.
I know that the church in the top picture may be too busy for some, but I love it. It reminds me of a wedding cake! This is a church I could spend hours in and not get bored. There are many items to discover, and they all call to mind important events in Church history, or truths about our faith. Each item should be savored and meditated on individually, but taken in as a whole, reveal the richness of our faith. Beautiful!
In the second church I can feel myself counting the bricks as a sermon goes off the rails or drones on for 15 minutes when it all could have been covered in 5, at least in the first one even if you are bored to tears by Fr Droning you are surrounded by beauty and biblical figures and scenes, yes it reminds me of a Fabergé egg, but then again they are considered masterpieces and sought after. Should our faith not be the same?
I like them both. I appreciate Carol’s remark and churches like the one in the lower photo have an unfinished feel although I personally prefer that style of architecture.
What is "beautiful" or what is "overdone" is a matter of personal taste. A monumental flower arrangement with dozens of symmetrically arranged exotic blooms and tons of greenery can be very beautiful. But, then, so can a very simple, spare ikebana-style presentation with a single orchid stem/inflorescence and a wisp of greenery. I find St. Anne, Richmond hill, Fr. McDonald's church (pictured) to be very beautiful in its clean lines and uncluttered simplicity. On the other hand, St Stephen Cathedral in Passau, with its E L A B O R A T E gilt ambo that is large enough to house a family of five, is also very beautiful.
Bee here:A while back I heard a priest on the radio commenting on churches that are ornate and full of art. He said those churches allow the poor to participate in the wealth and riches of a culture...in essence to "own" works of art, appreciate them and contemplate them, perhaps elevating their thoughts to God through beauty.I thought it was incredibly insightful of him.God bless.Bee
"A priest on the radio" spoke of "the poor" from a position of economic privilege. He will always have a roof over his head, covering a comfortable residence that he will probably never lose. He has three square meals a day consisting of food that he chooses. He will, when ill or injured, have the best medical care available. He has opportunities to travel on vacations, to continue his education, and, if he chooses, to own property. In retirement he will be cared for and looked after. He will not have to experience the dread of being cast aside when he begins to fail mentally and/or physically. In death, he will be buried with dignity.I wonder if his perspective might make it difficult for him to think that "the poor" might want a life with some semblance of the same physical, economic, and spiritual blessing and security that he enjoys, rather than being able to look at pretty decorations in some church building.
A priest who his physically well, with all his limbs, able to walk, not bedridden or with some other chronic illness or disfiguring injury or illness might find it difficult to think of those unlike him as his focus is only on his healthy blessings.What nonsense you write A@6:52
"A priest who his physically well, with all his limbs, able to walk, not bedridden or with some other chronic illness or disfiguring injury or illness might find it difficult to think of those unlike him as his focus is only on his healthy blessings."The difference you miss is that the healthy priest has not made the choice to be in good physical shape. The comment at 9:02 sounds, to me, too much like, "They're poor, but happy to see a pretty church now and again." If the "radio priest" were actually poor, he might see ornately decorated churches in a different light.Slave owners were known to say, "Yes, they're slaves, but they're happy." Were the owners enslaved themselves, their perspective might be different.
Anonymous at 6:52 is predictable, and predictably misguided. He is also condescending in that he thinks that 'the poor' (whoever they be, poverty being relative) cannot appreciate beauty since their lives are lived on a purely material level.In the cities of the Victorian era there was absolute, as opposed to relative poverty. Yet the 'slum priests' who ministered to them (and I'm thinking here of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Church) built magnificently decorated churches and insisted on an equally elevated style of liturgy.They had competition. Public houses were also lavishly decorated. Known as 'gin palaces' they boasted chandeliers and marbled interiors, and provided something which took the poor out of their otherwise dull existence.Nor were the Catholics idle. Many Irish immigrants had lapsed from the Faith and become morally degenerate (here we must remember that it was not poverty per se that the Victorians fought against - it was the drunkenness and licentiousness which accompanied it). The London Oratory is a magnificent church in South Kensington famous for its sublime liturgy and music. Yet the first church, opened in 1854, was a converted gin warehouse in a run-down area off the Strand. However, the interior was magnificent, as well as the liturgy which was celebrated there.Go further back. The medieval peasant, visiting his cathedral (as was customary on Laetare Sunday) or even his parish church, would have encountered a riot of colour and an elaborate ceremonial which would have seemed a foretaste of heaven. He was materially poor, but spiritually rich. Nowadays we are (relatively) rich but spiritually poor and the meagre fare offered in most Catholic churches is hardly a glimpse of heaven.
Fr. MJK AND Bee make very good points. I find both naves pictures to be beautiful in very different ways. Isn’t it wonder-full that our universality can embrace both? Now, when it comes to Liturgy...
I could be wrong and will likely be setting myself up for a lecture from Anon but, that type of commentary seems to greatly discount the theology of the building, art as a teaching/evangelization tool and the Church as a patron of the arts. The secular Church is not bound to monastic simplicity.
"Anonymous at 6:52 is predictable, and predictably misguided. He is also condescending in that he thinks that 'the poor' (whoever they be, poverty being relative) cannot appreciate beauty since their lives are lived on a purely material level."Nope, John. I never said or suggested that the poor cannot appreciate beauty.Byz - I never said or suggested that the "secular church is bound to monastic simplicity." And I don't find "monastic simplicity" in St. Anne Church. I do find uplifting beauty in brick and wood interior finishing. The very design of the building, with it's loftiness and openness to the exterior beauty of God's creation via clear glass windows, is very beautiful. Note what Fr. Kavanaugh said above, that both the monumental flower arrangement and the severely simple style of ikebana are both very engaging and beautiful. Is a ring replete with diamonds of many shapes and sizes of gemstones inherently more beautiful than a diamond solitaire? I don't think so.
Anonymous at 6:52:Do you have any actual evidence that poor people would be better off if there weren't ornate churches?
Anon, I don't wish to put words in your mouth but, I do find it interesting that your reflection led you right out the window as opposed to the altar of God. Cont..
The low and simple altar seems incapable of replacing the symbolism, focus and presence provided by a high altar.
"Do you have any actual evidence that poor people would be better off if there weren't ornate churches?"I commented on the attitude of the relatively well-to-do priest, not the condition of the poor people.Byz - I find it interesting that you don't see God in God's creation outside the church building.
Anon,Calm down. I'm not trying to do your "gotcha" thing. Just civil discussion - not volleying back and forth. Of course I see God's presence outside of the church building. The fact of the matter is, however, that via this discussion and remotely, we're inside of these church buildings. I'm not questioning the merit of the materials used in the lower photo. Let's just assume they are of a good quality. The usage of those materials is cohesive and easily maintained as has been explained before. But, good cabinetry and a fine wood grain aren't teaching tools nor do they evangelize. I really don't wish to be overly harsh regarding St. Anne particularly if parishioners and benefactors are reading this blog but, that was what Fr. provided as a point of comparison. I look at this sanctuary and I principally see a wooden box structure - the function of which I don't fully understand (perhaps it houses the entrances to the sacristies). Beneath it and following the arch motif, are the altar, tabernacle and crucifix that while in proportion to the arches at the base of the box structure, seem disproportionate to the interior of the church as a whole. To me, the first picture provides no such confusion or, questions. One's eye is drawn immediately to the high altar and upward. One's eye is mostly held there without looking around for other things like fine cabinetry and the beauty of the outdoors as seen through the windows. Similar to another commenter, I could spend hours staring at it and that which surrounds it (in addition to being amazed at the fanciful rococco detail just because of what it is). Again and to me, it is inspiring and provides an other-worldly experience. That is my point. We are each inspired in different ways. I'm within my rights without the need to be corrected by being inspired by the top photo. If you and others find inspiration in the type of structure represented by the lower photo, that is your right as well. We don't have to agree and won't likely find a middle ground. That's ok too.
In the first picture, my eye is drawn . . . everywhere. One commenter here has said it resembles a "wedding cake." I don't know whether that is a good or a bad thing when describing the decoration of a church.That commenter says she would not get bored since, I suppose, there lots to take one's attention away from the action at the altar. I think the first picture, while attractive in some ways, is like looking into a kaleidoscope. For an act of prayer and worship, I find that distracting.
Just a thought concerning Fr. K's analogy to simple and complex flower arrangements and A's which used diamond(s) instead of flowers... has it occurred to either of you that whether single or multiple, you two are STARTING with something beautiful.... one can build really lousy looking buildings with very ugly materials.
Bee here:Anonymous at June 2, 2019 at 6:52 AM said: "I wonder if his [the priest's] perspective might make it difficult for him to think that "the poor" might want a life with some semblance of the same physical, economic, and spiritual blessing and security that he enjoys, rather than being able to look at pretty decorations in some church building."Who said the two are mutually exclusive? Or that the beauty of a church suffices?You seem to see evil, and assume evil disregard of others, without any proof. I know our Church teaches to see the good in others, and assume their good intentions if we have no reason to believe otherwise.You are one snarky dude (or dude-ess). God bless.Bee
Anonymous @ 6:52 will make implications from which others will, understandably, make inferences. He then comes back to assert that what he clearly implies isn't really what he meant. Bee's radio priest enunciated a truism which I was able to support with historical evidence. Anonymous's arguments (such as they are) are based on presumptions regarding both the said priest and 'the poor'.Don't waste your time asking him to provide evidence; he never has and never will.
Often times, the spaces that appear too busy, are not so because there is too much, rather because of proportion to space. If the church for example has a low roof line, it would make little sense to put in a giant statue or icon in that space. Especially for the little children, who are not designed to sit down and zip it so to speak, I think having the art allows for great curiosity toward the divine even if they arent able to express this. Large spaces that are empty feel incomplete, where as in a smaller space i dont necessarily feel that way. Speaking for myself, the top is more inspiring than the bottom.
Sorry, John, I did not "clearly imply" that the poor cannot appreciate beauty. You invented that implication all by yourself.For the record, I most certainly do believe that the poor can appreciate beauty.But what the poor can and cannot appreciate was, clearly, not what I commented on.If you have the evidence to support your claim that I implied ANYTHING about the poor, please post it. (I won't wait, knowing that it is not forthcoming.)To remind you, I said, "A priest on the radio" spoke of "the poor" from a position of economic privilege. He will always have a roof over his head, covering a comfortable residence that he will probably never lose. He has three square meals a day consisting of food that he chooses. He will, when ill or injured, have the best medical care available. He has opportunities to travel on vacations, to continue his education, and, if he chooses, to own property. In retirement he will be cared for and looked after. He will not have to experience the dread of being cast aside when he begins to fail mentally and/or physically. In death, he will be buried with dignity."A priest...HE will...HE will....HE has...HE chooses...HE will...He HAS...HE chooses...HE will be....HE will not....HE will...Nothing in what I said was a comment on the poor. It was entirely a commentary on the priest.
Anon @ 10:10, Then your comment makes even less sense because you know nothing other than that Bee heard this priest speaking over the wireless. You know nothing other than that about the priest nor his future. That he spoke and was heard over the radio is not a qualifier for any of the events you foretell. You are participating in bigotry supported by insinuated stereotypes of media stardom. And even if the priest is a movie star what he says is true independent of his profession. My myna bird could speak those same words and they be equally true. Be careful dismissing advice based on the appearance of its source else we will all go abed at noon.
Anonymous, whoever you are, you must surely have realized by now that you cannot engage me in argument and win.Let's look at the offending paragraph again.'I wonder if his perspective might make it difficult for him to think that 'the poor' might want a life with some semblance of the same physical, economic and spiritual blessing that he enjoys, rather than being able to look at pretty decorations in some church building.'1. You don't know who 'he' is, so your strictures on his perspective are purely speculative, and your comments regarding this priest don't even work on an 'ad hominem' level since his assertions are not contradictory, and there is ample evidence to support them. 2. Participation in the wealth and riches of a culture, 'owning' works of art and being spiritually elevated through beauty is reduced in your terms to looking at pretty decorations. This says a lot about you, and does not redound to your credit.3. The implication of your paragraph is clear enough to those, including me, who have commented upon it. You did indeed speculate on what the poor might want, so you cannot deny that it was a commentary on the poor. You want evidence - look no further.On a previous thread I took your alter ego to task over his inaccurate terminology. I suggest you engage your brain before hitting the keyboard, and don't assume that we are all fools incapable of making reasonable inferences.
John, it's not an argument. I have been correcting you, and that gets up your nose.'I wonder if his perspective might make it difficult for him to think that 'the poor' might want a life with some semblance of the same physical, economic and spiritual blessing that he enjoys, rather than being able to look at pretty decorations in some church building.'No mention or suggestion whatsoever that the poor cannot appreciate are there, John, none.I most certainly speculated that the poor might want, "...the same physical, economic and spiritual blessing that he [radio priest] enjoys,..."Now, an educated man life you can certainly understand that there is ample, nay, overwhelming historical evidence to support that speculation. Unless you are among the class that thinks the poor are a happy lot because they can go to churches and see pretty things now and again.
I'm going to speculate on what the lesser advantaged look for in a church: hope. From a Catholic/Orthodox perspective, spiritual nourishment came first, followed by the message and the aesthetic all working in concert to provide hope. My family, joined with other immigrants upon their arrival in the U.S. 100+ years ago to build gathering places, churches, before worrying about having homes with yards, picket fences and other luxuries of that time. Why? It met their spiritual needs, educated their children, oftentimes introduced them to their spouses, established them as valid participants in their communities and it gave them a place to gather as a community to pray for their own spiritual welfare and a better tomorrow. I don't recall every hearing anyone who lived through that time and who survived the coal mines of Northeastern Pennsylvania ever confusing spiritual ornamentation with "pretty decorations". Rather, those church experiences gave them the strength to keep getting up each day to risk their lives in those mines so that their families would ultimately not have to do that anymore.
Anon - You might not be this way outside of this forum but, this lay-in-wait, gotcha, "I'm only commenting on what I see", snark thing is wearying. It isn't discussion particularly if you are going to repeatedly engage a commenter as knowledgeable as John Nolan. A well considered change in bedside manner would greatly enhance your experience here as well as that of others.
From: Anon June 2nd 11:24...To: All the other Anon poster/posters I assume you are one poster because the verbiage is the same, but perhaps I’m wrong. O You are a piece of work—I’ve never posted this kind of comment in all my years here. If you are truly a Catholic (difficult to tell), I entreat you to think (mental floss), and pray before you post..ask St. Gabriel the Archangel, Patron Saint of Communication to intercede for you.Thanks and God bless
Hey Anon. you misspelled a word. It was horrifying to read it. I need reparations, and maybe therapy.You wrote:"...an educated man life you can certainly understand..." The proper word is "like."
Byz, John is certainly knowledgeable, but even his accumulation of facts doesn't make him right. Have you challenged his "bedside manner" when he has hurled insults at others? No, you have not.Dan, you obviously have too much time on your hands, spending as much time as you do on reading SO closely comments, finding misspellings that cannot be discovered without using a fine toothed comb. Or not.
Anonymous needs to recall the adage: 'If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.'
Anon., if you read the blog, you'll know that there is an "anon" stalker of Fr. M that constantly points out errors. Figured any "anon" needs same treatment.
DanI have never insulted any named person on this blog. I have no compunction about hurling the most dire epithets at non-persons who choose to hide behind 'Anonymous'. They are beneath contempt.
John.. I know you havent... these "anons" are deranged.
Byz, John is certainly knowledgeable, but even his accumulation of facts doesn't make him right. Have you challenged his "bedside manner" when he has hurled insults at others? No, you have not.Anon - Those who write in a respectful manner to John Nolan or, any other commenter without the "gotcha", holier-than-thou "I'm only responding to what I see", lay-in-wait snark etc. are answered respectfully. Admittedly, those who choose to pontificate, do so incorrectly, ignore correction from other commenters namely the priests elicit frustration from the rest of us who have to wade through their speeches to get to the actual discussion. It goes beyond the tired argument that we just erupt against that which we don't agree or, don't wish to hear.
But, when John Nolan pretends that his opinions are superior to the opinions of others, when John Nolan tells people to piss off just because someone has called out his arrogance, when John Nolan derides those who do not share his personal preferences, calling them philistines, well, John Nolan doesn't have to be reminded to "write in a respectful manner. Gotcha.
I had to laugh when Anonymous claims to have been 'correcting' me. I made three clear points which he failed to address. He merely reverted to his fall-back position of 'I never said what you thought I said.'Yes, it's wearisome. He really is a 'bear of little brain', which probably accounts for his choosing to post anonymously.
I corrected you, John, when you erred in saying that I implied that the poor could not appreciate beauty.I did not imply that. You read that into what I said because you disagree with me, not because I "implied" it.When I addressed your false assertion, you ignored it, which is your typical non-response. You think that because you have made at statement it cannot be challenged. Like Sir Joseph in HMS Pinafore who says, "Captain Corcoran, it is one of the happiest characteristics of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably regarded as unanswerable."You utterances are not official. Keep on laughing.
Anon,I reacted similarly to John Nolan regarding the poor and their need or, lack thereof, to see "pretty things". Perhaps you could have developed this thought a bit more.
ByzRCIn order to develop a thought you need to have a cogent one in the first place. This lets Anonymous off the hook.I do have a twinge of guilt in demolishing him; as Alexander Pope wrote: 'Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?'Yet the poet answered his own rhetorical question: 'Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,/This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;/Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,/Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys.'
Anonymous-the-troll clearly has an issue with me; he repeated my name three times in a post dated 4 June at 8:56.I tell trolls to 'piss off' not because I disagree with them (their opinions are hardly worth considering) but because they are, well, trolls. If they had any honesty they would identify themselves.
John - I have issues not with you, but with your posts. You could be in the checkout line, sitting next to me on the tube, or walking your dog in the park where I am enjoying lunch. No problems with "you" whatsoever.When you make false claims - and the fact that you make them doesn't make them accurate as you seem to think - then you should not be surprised that you are challenged.
Pffffttt... there goes Anonymous, clearly implying that dogs are better than cats.
DanDogs need feeding, as do cats. BUT DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!
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