Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Catholic Church Architecture

While some people detest the more modern buildings that have been on the rise (pun intended) since the venerable Second Vatican Council, I would posit that there is really nothing wrong with modern architecture in sacred spaces. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the more simple the design, the more we are drawn upward. For some, this may not be the case, but as I think of the comments I've heard about how a more "traditional" space "feels" more like Church, I can only say that perhaps we focus too much on the outer and not enough on the inner?

Our Islamic brethren carry the doctrine that one can not make any representational art of Allah. Their architectural styles are simple and clean with repeating geometric patters to reflect the nature of God. While I don't necessarily share the dogmatic belief that we are NEVER to create representational art of the Creator, I can see how a more simple design can draw us closer.

My own parish is a Spanish-style Church. The Gothic architecture of some "newer" Churches does nothing for ~me~. I am comfortable with the Spanish-style acrchitecture with the red tile roof and the adobe/stucco walls. It's familiar and indigenous to our area of the country. I can intellectually appreciate the beauty of flying buttresses, but they are not the "norm" in our area. To some, our Church probably isn't as "nice" or "reverent" as some others because the walls are fairly plain. The building was built in the early 30s after the original wooden building (c. 1800) burned down.

So here's my challenge to you gentle reader: If you belong to the group that is critical - yes, even to the point of snottiness - of Church architecture that goes against YOUR preconceived notion of how it "should be", get over yourselves. Look for the good and beautiful in the simplicity. Because frankly, if you are so uptight that you "can't worship" in a space that doesn't meet your checklist of do's and don't's, then the problem isn't with the space, it's with you. Christ is present even if you don't "feel" it.

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