Monday, September 24, 2012

Our King Deserves the Best

I have mentioned before that, although Fr. Robert Barron's "Catholicism" DVD set has some stunning photography, in other ways (as in liturgical and theological issues) I am disinclined to use the program as a tool for evangelizing potential converts to the faith. 

The images in "Catholicism" certainly show what the Church is "made of", so to speak, in terms of art and architecture. Fr. Barron presents the Church as being capable of creating and inspiring great works of art (and it has been), but he fails to recognize that unfortunate fact that the current Church he describing is not capable of any such thing. Look at current Church art, architecture, and music, and you see something so banal and trivial that it isn't capable of inspiring anthing but banners and collages and culture not even up to the level of kindergarten.


It’s one thing to show beautiful photographs, and another to make the shift from Rome to the Diocese of Baker.

For instance, consider the discrepancy between the visually breathtaking scenes Fr. Barron shows, like this:

...and the reality of the parishes in my diocese, which is more like this:

While the first photo might speak to the grandeur and majesty of the Church, the second says "1970's dining room decorated by Grandma".

And instead of awesome altars, reverently "vested" and adorned, like the ones we might see in "Catholicism", such as: our diocese we are much more likely to see something like this:

Admittedly, the above photo did convince the pastor of the need for a new approach to altar frontals!  

As for exterior architecture, Fr. Barron shows us scenes like this:

...while we look around at buildings that are barely recognizable as churches:

In our diocese, we have traded lovely churches like this:

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...for handball courts like this:

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I like looking at photographs of Catholic churches that look like Catholic churches inside and out. It's just too bad that we have so few examples here.

The best we can do is the Cathedral, and to be fair, it has been restored from a '70's wreckovation to something more appropriate:

Not bad, eh? This photo, though, does not show the usual decor of the sanctuary though; that antependium was "imported" of one Mass (and it is actually violet, not blue or black). A more usual altar arrangement at the Cathedral would look like this:

...or this, with the floral and other decorations completely obscuring the altar:

And that's only one church in the diocese, too. The others can't hold a candle to the Cathedral. 

Yet, it would be so easy to make a few minor adjustments to enhance the dignity of the altar and sanctuary in any church.

We went from this: this:

...and from this: this:

...and from this: this:

...with much less time, effort, and expense than you might think. 

Isn't it worth doing that kind of a "make-over" for the King of the Universe?


  1. The beautiful Cathedral Churches are so full of Majesty and Reverence ....
    Too me all these "modern" churches do not hold a candle to the profound BEAUTY of St. Francis de Sales Oratory here in my area !
    Thanks for another great post and the before and after photos here...Our God deserves only the BEST ....

  2. I just returned from a trip to Washington, DC. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is well worth visiting! There are more than 70 chapels and oratories inside - all fit for a King.

    Back in 1913, Pope (St.) Pius X gave his approval (and some of his own money) to build this wonderful shrine in honor of Our Lady. The only thing missing is a daily Tridentine Mass.

  3. Jeanne and HSE, I envy both of you! There are places worthy of the name "Catholic church" in this country! We just need more of them.


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