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Some thoughts on renovating Churches August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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An interesting post at New Liturgical Movement discusses how to make many of our ultra-modern, and now often ultra-dated, Catholic Churches look both less dated and more fully Catholic. 

The sanctuary walls are, as a rule, made of flat wood, concrete and glass wrapped in metals with an industrial look — often matching the furnishings on the stark altar. The windows are frosted or tinted in muted tones of sky blue, lavender, amber or pink. If there are stained-glass images, they are ultramodern in style, to match any art objects that make sense in this kind of space. The floors are covered with carpet, which explains why there are speakers hanging in the rafters. The final product resembles a sunny gymnasium that just happens to contain an abstract crucifix, the Stations of the Cross and one or two images of the Virgin Mary.

“The whole look was both modern and very bland,” said Matthew Alderman, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s classical-design program who works as a consultant on sacred art and architecture.

“It was a kind of beige Catholicism that was ugly, but not aggressively ugly … and these churches looked like they were in a chain that had franchises everywhere. It was that whole Our Lady of Pizza Hut look that started in the 1950s and then took over in the ’60s and ’70s.”

The problem is that many Catholics believe that this look that represented an urgent response to contemporary culture — especially after Vatican II — has now gone painfully out of date.

Few things age less gracefully than modernity.

The article goes on to state that, unfortunately, very few parishes have the resources to destroy the current sanctuaries and build new ones.  Helpfully, then, the article gives some guidance on how to remodel/redecorate sanctuaries to sharpen their Catholic identity, heighten the sense of worship, and convey more of a sense of the sublime mystery and connection to the Heavenly Sacrifice that is re-presented during Mass.  An accompanying article gives more explicit examples of how to, relatively cheaply and quickly, modify existing Church structures to uplift and inspire in a very reverent, faithfully Catholic manner.  Simple changes can lead to rather impressive results:

Before                                      

After

UPDATE: A reminder from Orbis Catholicus that Catholic art lives:

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