"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Restoring the Sacred: Church Architecture

Tradifying a church exterior

During the pontificate of Benedict XVI you have probably seen several examples of Catholic parishes that have restored or improved the interior of their churches, especially the sanctuaries. The New Liturgical Movement blog has featured several before-and-after photos, such as here and here.

Now there is an example of a parish that has greatly improved the exterior of its church. In a front-page article in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia's Arlington Catholic Herald, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in Colonial Beach, Virginia, is profiled after investing five months and $325,000 to transform an early-1960s church into one more fitting for a rural Catholic parish.



For those who know the Diocese of Arlington, it is home to perhaps the ugliest collection of churches from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and even beyond. Experimentation, including just prior to the Second Vatican Council, led to churches in the round and semi-circle buildings that showcased the choir at ground level and minimized the distinction between sanctuaries and naves.

In recent years, pastors (often with the great assistance of more conservative assistant pastors) in the Diocese of Arlington have overseen the construction of new churches in the diocese that are cruciform in design. Others have hired traditional-leaning firms to redesign sanctuaries that were gutted or were never traditional to begin with. In addition to the costs involved with tradification, some of the priests have had to deal with the bishop there, who (as owner of all properties) has vetoed several proposals over the years for being too traditional (including a ban on new altar rails). N.B.: The same bishop prohibited the traditional Latin Mass until 2006. Today, nearly one out of every five parishes in the diocese has a traditional Latin Mass somewhere in the schedule as a result of priests taking their cues from the pope, and not just their local ordinary. Father Vincent Bork, the parochial vicar at Saint Elizabeth's pictured above, offers the traditional Latin Mass on Sundays and Thursdays at the mission church for the parish, Saint Anthony of Padua in King George, Virginia.

In this season of Advent, there is indeed great hope.

New Liturgical Movement


Renovation: St. Thomas More, Scranton

We haven't shown a "before and after" church renovation for awhile and this one comes within the context of St. Thomas More Catholic Parish -- an Ordinariate parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Here is a closer view of the high altar:

In addition to the obvious sanctuary renovations, including the communion rail which was installed, a variety of other features were also tackled as part of this church purchase. You can read more about it in the parish newsletter.


Renovation: St. Peter the Apostle, Louisiana

St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana have recently undergone some renovations after a hurricane flooded their parish church. They took the opportunity to make various changes to the church, including the addition of a communion rail, the re-location of the tabernacle to the centre of the sanctuary, an addition to the predella (a too frequently neglected aspect in sanctuary renovations) and the extension of the space in front of the altar to accommodate ad orientem celebrations.

One will note as well the use of the Benedictine arrangement.

Here are some before and after photographs.



KWTC:  Indeed, there are many reasons for hope today.  The darkest days of the 'spirit of Vatican II' chaos seem to be behind us now and we can move forward with the proper translation of the Council's documents.  However, much damage has been done so the rebuilding process won't be quick nor easy.  It's a shame so much money was spent 'wreck-ovating' many churches and thus are need of more money to fix them, but it's money that must be spent to fix the errors of the passing generation.  The first step is to bring back the altar rail.

We're not out of this crisis yet; we need to recover the sacred along with the Church's mission and our identity for the purpose of helping souls get to Heaven.  Pope Benedict XVI as successor to St. Peter has appointed a 'traditonalist' to the new office of Sacred Music and Architecture.  If we actually listen to the vicar of Christ and strive to be of the same mind then it's clear the message is the 'spirit of Vatican II' architecture is in error and that a return to traditional design is what's needed.  Rejecting this call is to be of Luther's mind.  

Our places of worship need to focus on the vertical - the divine and away from the horizontal - the earthly.  Mass is the Sacrifice at Calvary, not a happy communal gathering.  As we are called to sainthood we need visuals of the saints, not the folk choir.  The Tabernacle needs to be the central focal point - not the presider's chair.  We need to see our Lord on the Cross and contemplate our sins so as to strive for salvation; not His Resurrection which only the foolish and Protestants feel entitled to.  The faithful come to Calvary on Sunday thus their church is in the shape of a cross.  When they go to the symphony or a baseball game a clam-shell auditorium shape is appropriate.

"If, despite all this, you still persist in disobeying and defying me, I, also, will meet you with fiery defiance and will chastise you for your sins, till you begin to eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters.  I will demolish your high places, overthrow your incense stands, and cast your corpses on those of your idols.  In my abhorrence of you, I will lay waste your cities and devastate your sanctuaries, refusing to accept your sweet-smelling offerings."   Leviticus 26: 27-32

"Why, God, have you cast us off forever?  
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your flock that you gathered of old,
the tribe you redeemed as your very own.
Remember Mount Zion where you dwell,
Turn your steps toward the utter ruins
toward the sanctuary devastated by the enemy.
Your foes roared triumphantly in your shrine;
they set up their own tokens of victory.
They hacked away like foresters gathering boughs,
swinging their axes in a thicket of trees.
They smashed all your engraved work, 
pounded it with hammer and pick.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
the abode of your name they and profaned.
They said in their hearts, "Destroy them all!""
Psalm 74 1-9



Mason Lodge

spirit of Vatican II

A Sanctuary Fit For Performance

No comments:

Post a Comment