Thursday, November 09, 2006

Church buildings...


Rich and I love to travel to different towns, cities and rural areas and take photos of many Catholic Churches. On our way to do this, we usually pass a number of little "church buildings" along the highway that aren't very appealing to the eye. If they're not appealing to the eye on the outside, how appealing to the spirit are they once one is inside? How does a tired, weary soul and a cold heart or a person in a dry season spiritually, find the surroundings conducive to "rise above" the worries, cares, lures, and drabness of the world?

I know that many protestant faiths were eager to do away with what they deemed to be "idolotrous" images of statues, etc. and in breaking away from the Catholic Church, they thought that ripping everything from the walls and making bare the place of worship was more beneficial to their spiritual growth. Then further through the years, many more indepent fellowships and sects even reduced their places of worship to be completely free of anything that could detract from one's worship, assuming it to be all the "Catholic art." I've nothing against Quakers, or Shakers or Amish or others if that is what they prefer. However, some of these small roadside buildings of the "reformed church of this" or the "newly reformed, reformed church of that" particular denominations are simply repulsive - in my opinion. I don't mean that to be harsh criticism of the people that make up that sect or fellowship. But, since returning to the Catholic Church, and falling in love with the Communion of Saints and our Blessed Mother, Mary, I find my spirit soars and my heart jumps with delight when I enter a well constructed, finely crated House of God, either in a city, a town, or out in the prairie in the middle of nowhere. Even if I'm experiencing a dry time in my faith, or feeling sad, or have succombed to some temptation and need to "come back" and "turn my mind and heart toward heaven," it is MUCH easier to do that when I enter a Catholic Church. They can be simple, primative, or elaborate and elegant, or even what would be considered by some to be gaudy. My heart and mind lift when I see the work and labors of love that so many put into creating a true place of HONOR and sanctuary for our Lord Jesus Christ. His tabernacle where He IS, kept in a surrounding of adoration and things pleasing to my phsyical eyes, is also where I know my thoughts will be taken "up to Heaven."

I know the Kingdom of God is in our hearts, and the spiritual Body of Christ doesn't "NEED" these "things" per se. However, we are sacramental people. Jesus BECAME FLESH (he didn't have to, he could have come as an apparition to earth) for us to SEE and to TOUCH. He became one of us. He humbled himself, stripped of all glory to become a baby and grow to be a man to walk this earth with a bedraggled bunch of ragamuffins and scoundrels and misfits, adulterers, tax-collectors, and various assorted sinners. He healed with his spittle and dirt to make mud for one blind man's eyes so that he could see! He turned water into wine. So many other times he used the "fleshly things" of this physical world so that we could be healed and redeemed and saved by the true, physical Blood of the Lamb. Physical things, statues, paintings, frescoes, stained glass windows, beautiful altars are NOT distractions to our worship or our souls, or at leat shouldn't be. They're built by our forefathers as lasting legacies of their faith and love for our Holy God, our Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother and our older sisters and brothers in the Faith. They honored them with their hands and we have the blessing and opportunity to see and touch, to "taste and see" that the Lord is GOOD and is GOD. Tasting and seeing is a physical thing we as 'bodies and souls' need.

We taste and see every time we go to Mass and participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice. We hold the Son of God's flesh in our hands, we drink of His blood. Again, no offense is meant to my seperated bretheren of these other denominations and Christian sects. But as for me, my soul and my mind and my heart NEED to SEE art. It lifts me above the mundane and mediocrity that I'm always so prone to fall into and muddle in at times. God was honored by the Masters throughout the ages by their majestic and awe-inspiring creations, which seem to be most fitting in our Houses of God to attract us to HIM everytime we walk into the "holy hush" and see the goodness of the Lord, so pleasing to our eyes, so pleasing and comforting to our heavy burdened souls. When the ugliness of the world is only growing more ugly, then true beauty is one constant that can 'cure' the depressed spirit, give life to the dry bones, and lift us up on eagles wings to worship in the splendor and glory of the Saints. Statues help me to remember that we belong to ONE TRUE and GLORIOUS CHURCH, full of our brothers and sisters who've gone on before us and are now cheering us on to the finish line of this long, tiring, difficult race. I thank God for their memories kept alive by an artist's loving hand. I thank God for bringing me home to the BEAUTY and WONDER of creation found in our many Catholic Churches.

Reading Marcellino's article below prompted me to post this this morning. I've not been posting of late, as activities have taken priority to blogging, but what a wonderful way to begin again, with the "COME AND SEE" Jesus says... Come and See...Me! Taste and see ME! Taste and see the GLORY of the LORD!

1 comment:

Tiber Jumper said...

Great Post! It was well worth the wait! We are again on the same wave length. I was posting last nite about how the crucifix brings my mind to God so much better than an empty cross in Mass, but when I went to post, the demons of bloggerville swallowed it up! Maybe I will try to reconstruct it again.
But I agree that the Lord of Lords and King of Kings needs to be honored in a setting worthy of Him and now when I walk into a beautiful cathedral, I don't diss the waste of money like I used to!
I rejoice because we are using the architecture to both honor Him and draw our minds, hearts to him.
Iused to think that nothing was more spiritual than an empty gymnasium with a borrowed PA system and no cross, icons etc.
I think I was a Gnostic and didn't know it, separating flesh from spirit all the time, with no incarnational view whatsoever.