At the center of Saint Peter’s Square, a metallic tensile structure dominates the scene, hastily decorated with a tubular light, underneath which stand, disturbing as totems, a few horrible statues that no one endowed with common sense would dare to identify with the characters of the Nativity. The solemn background of the Vatican Basilica only serves to augment the abyss between the harmonious Renaissance architecture and the indecorous parade of anthropomorphic bowling pins. +CMV, Archbishop
My comments: As everyone knows, I don't like the fact that Archbishop Vigano has become so uncharitable towards the current Vatican regime to include the Vicar of Christ. I believe it is unacceptable for an Archbishop who has vowed respect and obedience to the Holy Father to do so. There are ways of critiquing persons without denigrating everything.
Thus he shoots himself in the foot because he is no longer taken seriously.
However, with some moderation and less commentary on everything under the sun, he could be a prophetic voice in dark times.
He does seem to connect the dots on so many things as this diatribe indicates. The problem, though, is precisely this, it is a diatribe, and thus not many will pay attention except those whose ears are tickled by it.
Press title for full diatribe:
Abp. Viganò: Vatican Nativity is ‘expression of apostasy, immorality and vice’
This irreverent monstrosity is the mark of the universal religion of transhumanism hoped for by the New World Order; it is the expression of apostasy, immorality and vice – of ugliness erected as a model. And just like everything that is constructed by man’s hands without God’s blessing, indeed against Him, it is destined to perish, to disappear, and to crumble.
I think it’s just ugly and in poor taste
He is a prophetic voice in dark times. Those who care about the Church will and are listening. He's a pretty good writer also.
I suppose St. Athanasius was more charitable in his denouncements of Arianism and those who held that false belief.
It's an awful Nativity scene, but at the end of the day it's just a seasonal display. It'll be gone and another one will come out next year. I felt angrier when they wrecked that beautiful altar in the apse of St Peters so there could only be a free-standing altar. I prefer to save my outrage.
If I can occasionally escape from my enlightened, progressive Catholic so-called echo chamber by occasionally visiting here and the Fr Z blog why can’t some traditional Catholics here and elsewhere occasionally escape their spiritual-religious echo chamber by reading some of the brilliant articles by progressive Catholic women at Patheos.com ? I can, for example, recommend a Patheos.com article I just read titled “God in the Grotesque: a Nativity Scene” by a guest writer Marybeth Bishop. This article quotes psalms and non traditional novels to point out that: “Perhaps God also finds beauty in the monstrous” ......and shows how we should look away from pristine scenes in our churches and on our mantels and try to picture or imagine what the actual nativity scene probably actually was, before, over centuries, we slapped varnish etc on it to make it more palatable.
To quote another person who commented here recently perhaps next year’s Vatican nativity scene (with the Vatican’s goals imitating secular goals of inclusion and diversity) will be an “artwork” done by visually impaired, multi racial transsexual activists OR a group of gay, Muslim asylum seekers?
MM, your comment made me laugh and brought me back to my 1970’s seminary. What you have described is what liberal Protestantism of the late 19th century tried to do to Protestantism, that is, strip away all the post-resurrection accretion applied to Christ and the Church and get back o the historical Jesus, a dead hero.
What you propose is this same liberal Protestantism that exploded on the Catholic scene in the late 60’s and 70’s that victimized scores of seminarians who then victimized the laity. Taking a hammer to the crèche was but one symptom.
It is ugly, it has nothing to do with redemption but glorying in the muck and mire that Jesus came to save us. Yes, life is gory, people die in cruel ways and life is suffering. Heaven and the glory of the Risen Lord and His beauty captured in traditional Catholicism and her art is what gives hope, not what you are suggesting.
The 60’s crèche is nothing more than 1960’s iconoclasm, It isn’t worth a dime..
What MM said didn't make me laugh it made me NAUSEOUS. "Perhaps God finds beauty in the Monstrous"? There is not a thing in this monstrosity that would cause or encourage anyone to raise their heart and mind to God. If God finds beauty in this thing He is NOT sharing it with anyone else.
What is both interesting and sad about MM types is that they extol the “sensuum fideli “ when it suits them and destroys the patrimony of Catholic moral teaching but refuse to listen to it when it comes to art work of this type. There is almost universal disapproval of it.
But for so many Catholics, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. We all know it will be removed after Christmastide. But it is symptomatic of the triumphalism of the 1960’s Church which was triumphant iconoclasm. I was a part of a wreckovation of a 1950’s A Frame Church, so the damage done wasn’t as serious as it might have been if the church was ornate. The triumphal arrogance of our liturgical consultant aided and abetted by the three priests pushing for this renovation, actually 4, as I was a part of that, but replacing another priest who initiated it. The laity were opposed to it primarily because the altar railing was being removed, side altars removed and statuary demoted to less conspicuous areas. Rambush, the consultant, wanted to remove the large crucifix once above the pre-Vatican II altar.
I was the one who saved that.
Today, a modern but beautiful “reredos screen” which hid the central tabernacle during Mass, but could be opened when Mass wasn’t being celebrated to show the tabernacle has been replaced with a pre-Vatican II altar with traditional reredos functioning as the new tabernacle throne. I don’t like it because it isn’t meant for the A Frame 1950’s architecture, but parishioners do.
“God in the Grotesque: a Nativity Scene”
MM makes a salient point. Finding God in the monstrous or the grotesque was one of the central elements of Flannery O'Connor's writing.
It represented one of her most powerful and disturbing insights - that there is something grotesque in all of us. When asked why many of her main characters were all so odd, so physically disfigured, so repulsive, she replied, "We're all grotesque."
J.M. Sweeney wrote, "O’Connor was intrigued by the fact that we rarely see Jesus with nice, sophisticated, religious people. We more often see him handing out grace to the people he hangs out with: tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick, the flawed, the rejected and those who have to work so hard to make a living that they do not have time to study the Scriptures. The well-behaved and respectable were the people who most angered Jesus because they were fooling themselves and others. It is impossible, when reading O’Connor, to sustain the nonsense of popular television preachers like T. D. Jakes and Joel Osteen—that the closer we follow Christ the prettier we will become, the wealthier we will become, and the more friends we will have. Jesus says the opposite."
In "GRACE AND THE GROTESQUE: REDEMPTION IN THE SOUTHERN LITERATURE OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR," Veronica Arntz wrote: "Thus, despite the surprising “grotesque” aspects, everything in her stories is in reference to Christ’s redemption. In other words, the very nature of the grotesque can reveal something about the person of Christ. As such, Flannery does not present the redemption in a merely sentimental way; rather, the redemption of Christ is intrinsically linked with the hard reality of life. As Flannery explains: “Redemption is meaningless unless there is cause for it in the actual life we live, and for the last few centuries there has been operating in our culture the secular belief that there is no such cause.” Our modern society has adopted a Manichean spirit, separating spiritual realities from the material world; we do not actually see redemption as operative in our own lives. Some deny that we need redemption at all, while others see the redemption as merely an addition to our lives, rather than a process that is at work within us."
The Vatican Nativity scene challenges the sinfulness is all of us. Perhaps that is why it has caused such a ruckus.
Anonymous at 6.10,
Don’t be too hard on MM. Ask yourself why she, or he?, is as she is, as regards views expressed here?
She was probably raised, taught, and is probably still influenced now by older “progressive” Catholic lay people and older “progressive” liberal Catholic clergy.
Regina, Thank you for your well written and thoughtful comment. When I was at our Cathedral in Savannah from 85 to 91, Flannery O'Connor's townhouse was across from the cathedral on Lafayette Square and one of our elderly parishioners lived there. She invited me to lunch there. Today it is just a museum. Of course. O'Connor lived in Milledgeville, GA about 30 miles from Macon, where one of her books was made into a movie in the early 1970's. In the 1950's she often came to St. Joseph in Macon to give lectures.
She was a pre-Vatican II Catholic who loved the Liturgy of that time and the beauty of St. Joseph's Church and certainly of the Cathedral.
There's nothing grotesque about the bowling pin figures in the current Vatican Nativity. It isn't grotesque. It is farcical. Most traditional Nativities and especially those from Naples incorporate the hustle and bussel of the Nativity and the harsh surroundings of a delicate birth, although presented in a "redeemed" or beautiful way. The grotesqueness of it all disappears.
As to redemption, none of us, no matter how pristine or grotesque, no matter how good or bad can earn salvation simply by being good, a heresy in modern thought today, that goodness is what matters and somehow that will save you even if you practice no religion whatsoever. It is often said that the nonbeliever is nicer to be around than the believer. Even our belief, though, does not save us without God's grace and our good works.
But ultimately the grotesque and the beautiful will be save, the rich and the poor alike (think of the camel passing through the needle's eye).
I suspect too, although we would only know from the lived experienced of the Risen Lord in the Church throughout the ages, that Jesus loved authentic good art in which he inspired the grand artists of the Church when the Church was the patron of good art. We don't worship a dead hero, but the Risen Lord who continues to act in the Church throughout the ages. I suspect too that He cherished the Solemn Sung Pontifical Mass of the Tridentine era!
I am waiting now for a certain anon to appear to explain or remind us of the profound, objective truth that when any person on this blog claims something is beautiful or “grotesque” or “farcical” or even genuinely “pristine” and so on .......that all these claims only come about because of the subjective opinion of the person making that claim, or come about as a result of different individuals having different personal perspectives and different personal tastes and preferences etc.....
I am waiting....
Sir Roger Scruton, 1944 - 2020:
“A writer, or any person, who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe them. So don’t. Deconstruction deconstructs itself, and disappears up its own behind, leaving only a disembodied smile and a faint smell of sulphur.”
"How much of human life is lost in waiting."-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The power of God through the operative function of His grace is to transform and redeem. Envision the scene in Bethlehem as if you were there. What do you see? A man, a woman, and a newborn child. Yes,but it is not just any man woman and child. The Divine presence was there incarnate in that stable-cave in Bethlehem and also there in the holiness of Joseph and Mary. The woman that is there has just given birth to the Second Person of the Triune God who has taken on our human flesh. No longer was there any cause of repulsion that some might find present in such an agrarian circumstance. .
Beauty itself in the Divine infant had come into our world. The Light of Heaven had come into the darkness of a cave.
The Son of God, the Second Person of the Triune Divinity, to Whom we creatures owe our existence and dependence, descended from Heaven to become dependent upon a creature He sustains.
He, who possesses far greater than any earthly wealth, entered our world into the most meager of surroundings. He,who is the Divine King and far above the greatest of earthly rulers, was born in an animal shelter, laid in a manger, and given homage by lowly shepherds. He who is Omnipotent, came into the world as a powerless infant. He did this for our benefit, to redeem us, so that just as He was born to us and entered into our existence, we could also be spiritually born to Him by the living water of Baptism, and thereby enter into His.
On the Christmas day , Love and Mercy was revealed in human flesh. As the angels and shepherds rejoiced so we rejoice. God gave the world the greatest of gifts. He willingly took on our human nature in order to redeem us . It is a gift which He so generously continues to give to us in the Holy Eucharist.
Just as the lowly shepherds were called to come and adore Him, we should also respond to God's call and with joy and gladness, in praise and all thanksgiving come and adore Him.
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