Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why Catholic churches are like shabby department stores
Telegraph.co ^ | October 8th, 2009 | Damian Thompson

Posted on 10/30/2009 10:20:38 AM PDT by Gamecock

Recently I attended a Catholic service in a church, and a diocese, which shall remain nameless. This is not because there is anything scandalous to report, but because I’m about to compare it to a 1970s department store.

Then, after Vatican II, its interior was modernised. But we’re not talking savage reordering here: just the usual wall-to-wall carpeting of the sanctuary, removal of the altar rails and – unforgivably, not least because it makes a nonsense of the high altar – the removal of the tabernacle to… somewhere.

Sometimes you walk into a modern Catholic church and think: this is really just a community centre with icons.

But then, in the 1970s, younger customers deserted it for chain stores, so someone gave the shop a makeover in brown and cream formica panelling complete with snazzy logo. And the regular customers said: “Ooh, it’s a bit trendy for my tastes, not the same, I can’t get used to it” – but they did get used to it, because the staff were the same and nowhere else sold that colour of stockings that Mum liked.

It was the same story in the sacristy. The priest was wearing a double-breasted polyester alb whose top half resembled a chef’s outfit. I didn’t know such a thing existed. The door of the wardrobe was open, revealing a jumble of highly coloured cheap chasubles (also polyester) that could have been mistaken for the women’s clothing rack in an Oxfam shop.

(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.telegraph.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; store

1 posted on 10/30/2009 10:20:38 AM PDT by Gamecock
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Is this a British thing or are there similar issues in the US?


2 posted on 10/30/2009 10:21:25 AM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Alas, we’re probably even worse off in the US. We had more money to do worse things to our churches and more money to build even more hideous new ones.

Things are changing now, but it’s going to take a long time to get rid of the hippie priests in their sneakers and tatty dirty albs and their airplane hangar churches with not even a cross visible.


3 posted on 10/30/2009 10:26:45 AM PDT by livius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Yes. It was the "thing to do" during the 70s.

Fortunately, there have been guidelines to rectify the situation (it used to be tradition -- small 't' -- and common sense before).

Also fortunately, they couldn't get their claws into all of the older, glorious, church buildings.

4 posted on 10/30/2009 10:28:09 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

My mom’s church in central Indiana is well...yuck. She’s actually thinking about changing parishes to one just a little further up the road.

Our parish church is quite beautiful (built around 1895): http://www.icchurch.com/ The stained glass windows are really nice. And it’s often quite packed on Sundays. There is another older Catholic church here that is pretty, and then the Catholic church just across the street from me, well, at least they have a good priest :)


5 posted on 10/30/2009 10:33:19 AM PDT by Hoosier Catholic Momma (Arkansas resident of Hoosier upbringing--Yankee with a southern twang)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hoosier Catholic Momma

I forgot to mention that our church is a landmark in Fort Smith—even people who are not Catholic know I.C. Church from a distance. Several local artists have painted beautiful renditions of it.


6 posted on 10/30/2009 10:35:07 AM PDT by Hoosier Catholic Momma (Arkansas resident of Hoosier upbringing--Yankee with a southern twang)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Similar issues in the US. Unless there is a conscious effort to recreate some well documented historical appearance, some of them can look pretty shabby, or so charmlessly modern you think you’re in a Toyota dealership. For years, St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill was my parish and it was outstanding for its cracked and peeling greenish paint. To people of a certain age, the chasubles are a joke, and the younger ones don’t know the difference. I think it is a combination of lack of funds (after you’ve paid for the new roof, you might not want to splash out on a professional paint job) and truly, horribly, abysmal taste. Lucky the church that has the wherewithal and an interested someone with cultivated taste to take care of the building properly.


7 posted on 10/30/2009 10:35:08 AM PDT by La Lydia
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
Well, there are some bright spots ...


8 posted on 10/30/2009 10:37:50 AM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Campion

This reminds me of that Baroque cathedral in Oaxaca.


9 posted on 10/30/2009 10:41:12 AM PDT by aruanan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

I’ve stepped into several non-Catholic churches with nary a cross or stained glass in sight.


10 posted on 10/30/2009 10:41:53 AM PDT by Carpe Cerevisi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Similar? Oh, yea.

Modern churches seem built with resale in mind.

They are about as sacred as strip mall.


11 posted on 10/30/2009 10:42:44 AM PDT by IrishCatholic (No local Communist or Socialist Party Chapter? Join the Democrats, it's the same thing!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Carpe Cerevisi

Oh don’t worry, many Evangelical churches are pretty pathetic.


12 posted on 10/30/2009 10:44:25 AM PDT by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: aruanan

It’s Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama ... dedicated ten years ago.


13 posted on 10/30/2009 10:44:50 AM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: livius; Gamecock
In Charlottesville and environs I'm seeing a backing away from the "ugly is good" approach. My first parish has had the cinder block plastered over and some ornamentation applied while a "community room" has been built so that we don't have our Lenten soup and bread dinners in the same room as the one in which we worship.

My second, and, current parish not only has statues of Our Lady and our patron, St. Thomas Aquinas -- with CANDLE RACKS! O M G! And a nice icon of St. Dominic. The original awful glass is there, it's still kind of semi-"in-the-round" but the tabernacle has been moved to a place of prominence and, well, it begins to look like a church!

There's still too much polyester. I bought a nice altar "linen" for our chapel (the old one was was severely fonky). But the Tsarina of the Altar Guild insisted on synthetics because we haven't really thought about how to maintain our fabrics, so they still tend to "maintenance free"plastic. Darn.

14 posted on 10/30/2009 10:50:30 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin: pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
A classic example in the UK is the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool.

The locals call it "Paddy's Wigwam".*

The C of E Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic masterpiece.

.

*Ya, a Prottie is reported to have designed it ;^(

15 posted on 10/30/2009 10:50:45 AM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Campion

WOW!


16 posted on 10/30/2009 10:52:03 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin: pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

What really breaks my heart is how they’ve painted over some of the beautiful artwork on the walls of churches in favor of some plain brown wrapper type color.


17 posted on 10/30/2009 10:54:00 AM PDT by Shethink13
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: investigateworld
A classic example in the UK is the Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool.

The locals call it "Paddy's Wigwam".*

The C of E Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic masterpiece.

.

*Ya, a Prottie is reported to have designed it ;^(

I can see that very well. Yuch.

18 posted on 10/30/2009 10:59:50 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

That thing in Liverpool always looks like it’s about to launch a missile. (Missal?)


19 posted on 10/30/2009 11:02:24 AM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Campion
Okay, well, I guess Oaxaca is not so bright as that, but it was still beautiful.


20 posted on 10/30/2009 11:02:46 AM PDT by aruanan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

we have a church in the area i call “St. Star Trek”....the altar area looks like the bridge of the old enterprise...


21 posted on 10/30/2009 11:07:39 AM PDT by joe fonebone (I am racist, hear me roar....I don't give a crap anymore....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Mad Dawg
Oh, you haven't seen the best part. Mass is every day at 7. They managed to position the church (whether they used grace or geometry to do this, I'm not sure and they aren't telling) so that the sun bursts through the rose window behind the reredos right around at the consecration during the Easter season.

When the sun lights up all that gold with the priest elevating the Blessed Sacrament at Mass ... well, let's just say you understand how Peter felt at the Transfiguration ... "Lord, it is good for us to be here ... let us build two booths ..."

You gotta go for a visit. Everyone should.

22 posted on 10/30/2009 11:08:58 AM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Carpe Cerevisi

“I’ve stepped into several non-Catholic churches with nary a cross or stained glass in sight.”

Yes, but they have whompingly ginormous video screens and state of the art rock band equipment.


23 posted on 10/30/2009 11:15:42 AM PDT by OpusatFR (Tagline not State Approved.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Geez, that church looks like Space Mountain in Disney.


24 posted on 10/30/2009 11:15:49 AM PDT by Shethink13
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Campion
That shouldn't be too hard to do. We know the sun is going to rise a little north of east at Easter. We can work out the angle for the latitude of the Church, then it's just a matter of designing in a month's worth of slack.

I designed, but never built, a sheep barn where the sun reached all a cross the floor in winter but nearly then entire floor was in shade for most of the summer. (The south wall was going to be fabric and there was an overhang.) All you need is an architect who cares about beauty and who has a little skill at his racket.

25 posted on 10/30/2009 11:27:27 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin: pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Acknowledging the ugly modern Catholic church design which is self-inflicted, it’s still ironic to read this in the British press, considering the beauty of the art and architecture of Catholic churches which was destroyed during the English reformation. Beautiful stained-glass windows, high altars, statues, etc. - lost forever.


26 posted on 10/30/2009 11:40:49 AM PDT by Lorica
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: La Lydia
Unless there is a conscious effort to recreate some well documented historical appearance, some of them can look pretty shabby, or so charmlessly modern you think you’re in a Toyota dealership.

Great description!

27 posted on 10/30/2009 11:41:41 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: OpusatFR; Gamecock
....they have whompingly ginormous video screens and state of the art rock band equipment.

Something that I find equally sad and humorous is that those whompingly ginormous video screens (which aren't cheap, mind you) often display images of crosses and stained glass windows during holiday services. The money that was spent on electronics could have been spent on beauty.

I'll take a cathedral over a theatre any day (and especially on Sunday).

28 posted on 10/30/2009 11:49:12 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Alex Murphy

It is sad how beauty has been neglected in many areas of life, and how much ugliness is promoted.


29 posted on 10/30/2009 11:51:20 AM PDT by Dante3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Shethink13; markomalley

Geez, that church looks like Space Mountain in Disney.

RIPLEY
That the atmosphere processor?

BURKE
Uh-hunh. One of thirty or so, all over the planet. They're completely automated. We manufacture them, by the way.


30 posted on 10/30/2009 11:54:26 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Campion
"President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter"

A most impressive anagram! Well done! < :D

31 posted on 10/30/2009 2:00:20 PM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp (The Libs play dirty because the Libs ARE dirty.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
We had this cathedral until it burned in the early 70s.

The diocese rebuilt with this.

The worst part is that they built on the cheap but it is far too small to serve as a proper cathedral. So now they have named another (much larger) church that is just a few blocks away to be the co-cathedral. Sigh.

32 posted on 10/30/2009 2:10:09 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp

Thanks, but I can’t take the credit. I just want it kept in front of people. Actually, it’s only part of the truth. He’s really a “Soros- and Arab-backed imposter”.


33 posted on 10/30/2009 2:11:20 PM PDT by Campion ("President Barack Obama" is an anagram for "An Arab-backed Imposter")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter

No way...really? The second is really a church?


34 posted on 10/30/2009 3:20:23 PM PDT by Lorica
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Campion

What church is that? It’s ethereal.


35 posted on 10/30/2009 3:23:29 PM PDT by Lorica
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

You know what is really sad? This is how the Liverpool Cathedral was SUPPOSED to look:

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/conservation/departments/models/lutyens/


36 posted on 10/30/2009 4:39:05 PM PDT by vladimir998
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Mad Dawg
I'm seeing a backing away from the "ugly is good" approach

Actually, even here in Florida, a liturgical and ecclesiastical wasteland, I'm seeing that too. I think there's hope...

37 posted on 10/30/2009 5:42:27 PM PDT by livius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter

Yipes. Your cathedral ALMOST makes the Taj Mahony look good!


38 posted on 10/30/2009 5:44:47 PM PDT by livius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: livius
Way back when, the inner cities had beautiful churches...My husband took me to a church he use to go to in Detroit...(Back in the 1960's) It was closing up shop and we had to go next door to the convent to get a nun to let us in...The church was built in the 1800's and everything was hand carved. Pews were beautiful, the sanctuary was awesome, had carved cross's, stations of the cross, and the priest didn't give the sermon from the sanctuary, He walked down the middle isle and there were circular steps to a podium (?) that rose above the pews and gave his sermon. Everything even the steps were works of art...

All those beautiful church's are gone along with the large cities...No more parishioners, they moved out to the subs. when forced busing started...

There would be a church like that every 1/2 mile...

39 posted on 10/30/2009 6:33:34 PM PDT by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: goat granny

It’s really sad. Those churches cost those people a lot of money and they were very proud of them.

I always think that the real problem was that the Church just shrugged and walked away, instead of trying to convert the new residents of the area. They shouldn’t have let it all go so easily. Also, once the Church gave up, the whole neighborhood imploded.


40 posted on 10/30/2009 7:30:23 PM PDT by livius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Lorica

Not just a church, it’s the cathedral.


41 posted on 10/30/2009 9:50:39 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: goat granny
...there were circular steps to a podium (?) that rose above the pews and gave his sermon.

This is from the church that I attended as a child. The pulpit pictured here was destroyed as part of the post V2 wreckovation. The church was beautifully restored a few years ago to (mostly) it's former glory but the pulpit is sadly gone forever.


42 posted on 10/30/2009 9:57:12 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter
Such a beautiful church...They were truly works of art, craftsmanship and love...I didn't know if I could explain it good enough for anyone to understand. Your picture is worth 1000 words as the saying goes...I think with most of these beautiful old churches, the parishioners from the old country help build them by bringing their own craftsmanship to the church...Its a shame they are gone, but glad to hear some of them were saved..
43 posted on 10/30/2009 11:03:20 PM PDT by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

What do Protestant churches have to offer? Not much from my experience in visiting them for funerals, weddings, etc.


44 posted on 10/30/2009 11:12:01 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: livius
When we visited the church I talked with the nun...She said the expense of keeping up that beautiful church was too much to bear as they only had a handful of regular parishioners. There was the church, school, convent, and rectory...The school had to close and they tried to keep the church going but within 2 years it would all be gone..

I always wondered what they did with all that beautiful architecture within the church..The whole back of the wall behind the sanctuary was hand carved with crucifixes and niche's for Joseph and Mary and it was a towering wall....There were Infant of Prague in niches along the side walls with many stands for vigil lights....

Sad to say I think the costs of doing that today would be enormous and probably too much for a parish to pay for...

I do a little stain glass as a hobby, but to do just one large window would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars for an artisan to do it..

45 posted on 10/30/2009 11:21:37 PM PDT by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: aruanan

That would be an awesome experience to walk into that church...That is beyond words to describe..


46 posted on 10/30/2009 11:29:06 PM PDT by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: goat granny

And that view isn’t the main part of it but one chapel on the right side. I have a slide of this same chapel I took when we visited it in the evening. It must have been from not having a filter to correct for the incandescent lighting so my picture (packed away in some box somewhere) looks a lot more golden (the Southeast Asian kind of gold). The rest of the church is incredibly beautiful as well.


47 posted on 10/31/2009 6:40:03 AM PDT by aruanan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock
The trend (that appears to have been reversed) was caused by the creeping "protestantization" of the Catholic Church (primarily in western countries) where, instead of building church buildings that inspired awe and a sense of the heavenly, they were bland structures designed as meeting houses focused on the "congregation" where people gathered for all sorts of things in addition to participating in the Mass.

Not to say all protestant churches are bland and uninspiring, because they over the years have built some incredibly inspiring churches, but to a large degree the smaller congregation facilities are built on the cheap as gathering places vice places of awe.

During my twenty plus years in the Army I was unfortunate to have belonged to a few parishes that had built such buildings and I always felt like I was in a protestant church. Having since retired, the parish I attend has a beautiful Gothic structure built by the parishioners in 1917.

The trend in the Catholic Church is back toward building appropriate places to celebrate the Mass with the proper focus.

An example of this trend is a church recently built near where I live:



48 posted on 10/31/2009 7:10:21 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("Anyone pushing Romney must love socialism...Piss on Romney and his enablers!!" ~ Jim Robinson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson