Friday, July 02, 2010

Sacred Spaces

There is a piece by architect Matthew Alderman, appearing at New Liturgical Movement, entitled Five Things Any Parish Can Do to Improve Sacred Space. It is worth a careful review by any pastor, who is contemplating a refit of his parish church interior, but may not be in a position for a significant expenditure. There are also many older churches which are quite beautiful on the outside, but the sanctuary within has over time, taken on the appearance of a rummage sale.

Alderman explains each of these items at length, and it's a good thing, because each of them can be done either very well, or very badly:

    1. Rearrange the Furniture.
    2. Consider a New Color-Scheme.
    3. Add New Paraments and Hangings.
    4. Put in a New Floor.
    5. Re-Organize Well-Meaning Clutter.

One of the things that has concerned this writer of late, is when well-intentioned pastors undertake significant renovations of the church interior along more traditional lines, yet fail to do justice to both forms of the Roman Rite. When the Traditional Mass is celebrated, half the liturgical action should not have to take place on the sanctuary steps, because the pastor insisted on bringing the altar too far to the front. The space in front of the altar serves any number of purposes, regardless of the orientation of the priest. What's more, if you have a free-standing altar in the sanctuary, THAT is the altar, not the elaborate shelf behind it where the Tabernacle is reposed, I don't care how many steps lead up to it. One has been consecrated and anointed with oil by a bishop, and contains the relics of a martyr. The other does not share this distinction. Ignoring this does an injustice to the proper role of the altar as the true place of sacrifice (where it is not essential that it is graced by a tabernacle), and also results in the setting looking ridiculous.

And for that kind of money, you don't want to look ridiculous, do you?

Or DO you?

PHOTOS: Before and after images of Visitation Parish, Archdiocese of Miami, Florida, during the pastorate of Father Christopher Marino.

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