Skip to comments.One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic: Marks of the Church Building as well as the Church Herself
Posted on 06/08/2010 5:02:05 PM PDT by Desdemona
I have recently struck up a very enjoyable correspondence with Prof. Peter Kwasniewski, of the excellent Wyoming Catholic College, and read with great interest an article he recently wrote for the next edition of Latin Mass Magazine on the philosophy and theology of church architecture. (More information can be found at the magazine's website here.) Particularly interesting for me is his innovative but sound idea of linking the built structure of the church to the four marks of the institutional Church--One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. This is the first time I have seen such an idea advanced and I find it elegant and eloquent. Prof. Kwasniewski has been kind enough to secure permission for us to publish his article at The New Liturgical Movement, and you can find it below. Some highlights, with my comments and expansions:
We identify her four notes or essential characteristics when we say that she is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Almost in the same breath, we then link the Church to her life-giving Sacraments and the ultimate goal to which our membership in her carries us: we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. An entire understanding of church architecture is sketched out in these few words of the Creed.
[...] One. We are talking about one and the same Church across all the ages. [...] So the church building and its furnishings ought to convey a sense of something one, visibly and tangibly one, that is greater than all of our differences. [One is reminded of Ninian Comper's synthetic unitive eclecticism: "All generations shall call me blessed." I would also remark that the "oneness" of the church building should also be manifest in a clarity of liturgical form and focus. --MGA] We concretely express this mystery by an architecture that remains in continuity with ecclesiastical Tradition. [...]
Apostolic. I jump ahead to this note of the Church because it clarifies that the unity or oneness just spoken of consists in belonging to the Church founded by Christ on the Apostles, especially on Peter, the Rock. Our Lord Jesus gave to the Apostles the Deposit of Faith, what we call Apostolic Tradition. [...] The church building, for its part, passes down that same Tradition in artistic form, in a kind of silent visual preaching.
Holy. This characteristic is arguably the most important of all when it comes to architecture. A church should represent and reflect and remind us of the holiness of God, the holiness to which we have been called and in which we share. Hence, verticalitythe upward thrust of architectural and decorative elementsis crucial in a sanctuary. When we enter a well-designed church, our mind, our feelings, are immediately drawn upwards to God, the Holy One of Israel; to the Divine, the Transcendent, the Infinite.
[I'd also remark that there are various ways of expressing this verticality, this exchange between God and man exemplified in the Incarnation--in Gothic it goes up, while in Byzantine architecture domes recall God's enclosing movement downwards to man while retaining a sense of loftiness. Baroque creates a sort of aerial, spiralling ballet that has elements of both upward and downward verticality to it. --MGA].
Anyway, have a read through the article: it is excellent work, and innovative while being firmly grounded in tradition. It is good to see, in this article, and in other works (like Dr. McNamara's new book) that we are now examining in great detail and with great theological seriousness what a church should look like, as well as what it should not look like. I hope to hear more in this vein from the good professor in the future.
What is a Church Supposed to Look Like? Peter Kwasniewski
Early churches met in homes.
I don’t think the building should be anything great. The Church is not the building, it’s the Body of Believers that occasionally use it.
bump. hope it’s worth reading later.
I'll bet you buy generic food, too. And won't you be happy when you can get all your nutrition from a tasteless pill?
But for the human race, the eternal is embodied in our art, whatever the medium, and our Holy Church will have the our holiest efforts.
You put your efforts into a building.
Those who are wise will put their efforts into His People.
The church building should inspire one to Heaven with beauty through art and architecture. I've heard the whole "church is the people line" for decades and, frankly, I need the beauty, which is why I belong to a parish which is one of the great cathedrals of the world. To think that artists create beauty in the name of God for the inspiration of the rest of us is a heady thought.
I know better than to argue with a refrigerator.
that certainly would feed a LOT of hungry people. and clothe them. and give them health. and shelter. and hope. and the Gospel of their salvation. But we all know that God is more impressed with buildings made by hands./S
quote “The church building should inspire one to Heaven with beauty through art and architecture...frankly, I need the beauty”
You appear to live your life like Thomas: John 20:29 “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
The Apostle Paul warns us: in 2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are NOT SEEN: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are NOT SEEN are eternal.
Faith is not seen, Biblical faith is never the beauty of art and architecture: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.
Therefore, that which you said you need, “I need the beauty”: it is that which is SEEN: the things which are seen are temporal; the things which are NOT SEEN are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Is that cathedral eternal? Are those man made arts and architecture eternal?
Don't you think those who were paid to build and create benefited?
So would selling the local First Baptist Church.
They could build another church - but selling it would feed still more hungry. And on and on.. But the poor we would still have with us.
You don't create a place of worship instead of charity. And whatever I have I would make the place of worship of the best and most beautiful and most sacred I possibly could. Particularly for the Blessed Eucharist.
I can understand if you feel different. Whatever floats your boat is fine with me.
I’m sure they did. But I stand by my prior post. NONE would have benefitted more than those in need. Spiritual accessories and wall murals have never saved anyone. ANYONE>
I agree. Selling the local First Baptist Church would feed more hungry. And on and on. Because the Church the Body of Christ is NOT a building made with hands.
that certainly would feed a LOT of hungry people. and clothe them. and give them health. and shelter. and hope. and the Gospel of their salvation. But we all know that God is more impressed with buildings made by hands./SI missed your end-sarc tag originally, but for others ...
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?" He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." --John 12:3-8
What a little cutie!
What a little cutie!She really is :) ... here's photos from one of St. John's Pentecost Masses ... St. John Cantius.
that’s a very interesting verse. Are you saying that you are building your monuments for Christ’s burial? Because that is LITERALLY what he was saying. You do know that Christ has arisen. He is no longer on the cross. Suffering. He has defeated death. He has no need of funeral costs now.
So you’re against any church building? Or what is acceptable to you?
you could not be MORE wrong. sadly so.
We do all that AND maintain the beauty in the churches where many people were paid wages for just work. Just think of Judas admonishing Mary Magdalene for washing Christ's feet with perfume that could be sold to feed the poor and Christ admonishes Judas. The poor we will always have. They aren't going away and next week, there will be more. Yes, cash is a means to an end for basic necessities, but those providing the cash need to be inspired just as the poor need hope. The beauty of the art, architecture, music, etc., is there for everyone, regardless of economic circumstances, for the inspiration to be inspired to Heaven. Just look at what beautiful work man can do in the name of God.
I’m saying that I am in the Church, the Body of Christ. It is in me. It is not a building. It is not made with hands.
The Gospel of the Grace of God isn't inspiring enough? That God sent His only begotten Son, to die for our sins, was buried, and resurrected isn't inspiring enough?
Not exactly. I'm INSPIRED by the art to live as a better Christian. It is very soothing, particularly during Eucharistic Adoration, and helps peace settle into the bones. Also, don't forget that far from condemning Thomas, Christ INVITED him to put his hands in the wounds so that he may believe. Paul was struck blind that he may believe. There are other examples from the saints' lives.
Is that cathedral eternal?
Cathedrals are constructed to last 1,000 years. Many are much older than that. If a building is built right, it will last a long time.
Are those man made arts and architecture eternal?
Not exactly man made. As an artist, although in music, artists use God-given gifts and abilities honed. None of this exists without the gift from God. It's not possible. So, in a way, yes it is eternal, passed down from generation to generation, not just the objects, but the knowledge of how to produce them.
Believe me, it’s much more impressive in person.
“that certainly would feed a LOT of hungry people. and clothe them. and give them health. and shelter.”
Well said, Judas. John 12:5.
Now we know who you really serve.
You are really lost.
I’m never going to understand the objection to art in church. Plain churches are just so sterile. There’s nothing sterile about beauty and inspiration from God.
Judas was lost. And you’re saying the exact same thing he did. You serve the same master too.
Actually, come to think of it, when it comes to feeding, clothing and sheltering, as the big churches take years to construct, hundreds of bread-winners are able to provide for their families. These are usually not wealthy people, so that money is put into circulation.
You need to check your master, Vlad. Satan can quote scripture too, you know.
Believe me, its much more impressive in person.I was looking around on the Net for a photograph of your parish, because the ones on the official site were all tightly cropped (that I could find!), but if you see one that shows the full cathedral well, let me know; I'll post it for you if you like ...
I understand. You've lost half the meaning of The Church. And you've lost the nourishment of the Holy Eucharist.
I understand all that, it started with Calvin and mostly Zwingli. But nevertheless, I'm still wondering: Are you against any church building? Or what is acceptable to you?
Many Protestants hate beauty. Ralph Adams Cram, who was an expert in art and architecture, AND A PROTESTANT admitted this himself decades ago.
“From the outbreak of the Protestant revolution, the old kinship between beauty and religion was deprecated and often forgotten. Not only was there, amongst the reformers and their adherents, a definite hatred of beauty and a determination to destroy it when found; there was also a conscientious elimination of everything of the sort from the formularies, services, and structures that applied to their new religion. This unprecedented break between religion and beauty had a good deal to do with that waning interest in religion itself. Protestantism, with its derivative materialistic rationalism, divested religion of its essential elements of mystery and wonder, and worship of its equally essential elements of beauty. Under this powerful combination of destructive influences, it is not to be wondered at that, of the once faithful, many have fallen away. Man is, by instinct, not only a lover of beauty, he is also by nature a ‘ritualist,’ that is to say, he does, when left alone, desire form and ceremony, if significant. If this instinctive craving for ceremonial is denied to man in religion, where it preeminently belongs, he takes it on for himself in secular fields; elaborates ritual in secret societies, in the fashion of his dress, in the details of social custom. He also, in desperation, invents new religions and curious sects working up for them strange rituals . . . extravagant and vulgar devices that are now the sardonic delight of the ungodly. ... If once more beauty can be restored to the offices of religion, many who are now self-excommunicated from their Church will thankfully find their way back to the House they have abandoned. The whole Catholic Faith is shot through and through with this vital and essential quality of beauty. It is this beauty implicit in the Christian revelation and its operative system that was explicit in the material and visible Churches and their art. We must contend against the strongest imaginable combination of prejudices and superstitions. These are of two sorts. There is first, the heritage of ignorance and fear from the dark ages of the sixteenth century. I am speaking of non-Catholic Christianity. Ignorance of authentic history, instigated by protagonists of propaganda; fear of beauty, because all that we now have in Christian art was engendered and formulated by and through Catholicism; fear that the acceptance of beauty means that awful thing’surrender to superstition.’ It is fear that lies at the root of the matter, as it does in so many other fields of mental activity.” (Radio Replies, vol. 2: 1052)
Did you read the Gospel passage? Three people on this thread used the exact same paragraph to respond to you. Just as Judas was admonished for wanting to sell expensive perfume rather than use it as a means of adoration, so do Catholics find it misguided to use the poor as the reason for not investing in inspirational art and architecture. The poor can see and hear and need inspiration just as much as everyone else does. The Church is just as much theirs as everyone else’s. There are theological reasons for why the Church buildings are built the way they are. Read the article.
Let’s see. we meet at houses, Denny’s, picnics, the internet, etc.. does this help? God’s Word can be shared and enjoyed anywhere.
Well then, if 3 people said it, it must be true. NOT. C’mon people, see the hypocrisy.
Somebody posted one in I think post 11?????? It’s taken from under the rear gallery overhand down the nave. Believe me, on Corpus Christi as the candles are all lit and the procession comes down the aisles, it’s something to behold.
My word exactly. There is something anti-beauty and anti-senses about them. It's almost Manichean or Gnostic.
Goodness, Truth and Beauty. They forget an important part of how we know God.
And, IMHO, the loss of the Sacrament of Eucharist is key. This more than anything else reduces a "church" to just a building.
“You refuse to see the hypocrisy and the irony.”
There is no hypocrisy or irony.
1) Christ dwells in our tabernacles so we adorn our churches.
2) We also feed the hungry, clothe the naked and otherwise show charity more than all Protestant sects combined.
“I’ve read of people like you before. they were called Pharisees.”
No. I honor Christ. You seek to deny Him honors. You side with Judas. Judas and you said EXACTLY THE SAME THING. In honoring Christ where have I said the same thing as any Pharisee? I have not. Your charge is not only false but ridiculous.
“Of which you seem to be chief. Fortunately, my salvation rests not with your opinion.”
You side with Judas. You presume you are saved yet you say and believe the very words of the betrayer of Christ. And yet you do not see your own hypocrisy and the irony of that?
“You need to check your master, Vlad. Satan can quote scripture too, you know.”
Christ is my master. Don’t serve the same master as Judas. Rejoice in and honor the Lord. Turn away from Judas and his master and embrace Christ.
Many Protestants hate beauty
What a crock!
Well, no, see we’re not the hypocrites. There’s a reason Mary Magdalene is greatly respected and Judas not. In that scene, Christ sided with Mary Magdalene. She was the adorer.
Ever notice how different a church feels between the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil. No Eucharist makes a difference.
A little, but I hope you don't spend any money at Denny's that could be given to the hungry, and those houses, lots of hungry people could benefit if you sold them or maybe downsized. How about if you switched to dialup?
I'm still with the same question though: Do you disapprove of all church buildings?
There is One Who can sort this out, one day. And He will. The mighty will be brought low, and the meek will inherit the Earth. God judges each man’s heart. Never forget that. Maranatha
Sorry my words did not make it clear - I was not condeming Thomas, the point was to demonstrate what Christ Jesus said, which is that faith by not seeing is greater than faith which needs visible sights to believe or be inspired. Thomas appeared inspired only by the visible sight of Christ, that is why his faith is demonstrated in the Bible (in the Gospels) by his very words in the regarding his need to see before he believed, as is recorded in John 20:
John 20:24 “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” John 20:25 “The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
There you have it, Thomas himself declaring that he would not believe unless he has seen. I do not condone Thomas, Christ did not condone Thomas: but Christ did clearly say that there are greater faiths than Thomas: those who believe without seeing.
I am INSPIRED by Christ and His Words without seeing anything, and fully in awe in the inspired Bible. I ADORE Christ, not His creation nor anything that man formulates.
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.