Okay...many of you have experienced the type of churches in America, and elsewhere that are......"different?" Maybe some of you dont know what I'm talking about because you think..."a church is a church". Well, as a designer this sort of stuff infuriates me believe it or not. This "new age" mentality of practice. It bugs me to see how churches in America have gone from beautiful cathedrals to random shaped boxes/structures that "try" to translate an 'abstract design?'...all for the purpose to create a 'lax,' 'community,' 'hall' setting inside. From cushioned seats and kneelers, to abstract altars or 'no' altars, to the absence of crucifixes, to silly pictures in place of the stations of the cross...or sometimes i find myself challenged to discover where stations are hidden...The music arrangement is similar to that of a band..(does this sound like a "Simpsons cartoon?")...finally the most important part, the 'Tabernacle', usually hidden in some accessible closet or hidden area. Why? Why all this confusion and reconfiguration from good old tradition? Was their design intention to help us all 'forget' we are Catholic? These new Catholic churches mostly built after the 60's and 70's have been 'sapped' of their spiritual vitality. It should bring us all to question and wonder where the minds of these architects, and those Catholics who hired these architects were thinking. It seems the execution of their designs was everything 'but' Christian. I think you'd all be interested to know how drastic church architecture has changed in America and other places since after Vatican II. Perhaps the complete misinterpretation and then rejection of Vatican II in America awakened all this...and what has it done to our brothers and sisters but only detach them from 'Tradition'. hmmmmmmm...something to think about. An interesting book on this: "Ugly as Sin" by Michael S. Rose
here's a brief summary:
So argues Michael S. Rose in these eye-opening pages, which banish forever the notion that lovers of traditional-style churches are motivated simply by taste or nostolgia. In terms that non-architects can understand (and modern architects can't dismiss!), Rose shows that far more is at stake: modern churches actually violate the three natural laws of church architecture and lead Catholics to worship, quite simply, a false god.
Not content to limit himself to theory, Rose in Ugly As Sin takes you on a revealing tour through a traditional church and a modern church. He shows conclusively how the traditional church communicates the Faith, while the modern one simply doesn't. In the process, he'll give you a renewed understanding, love, and gratitude for the gift of faith that is your traditional church -- plus a keener sense of just what's wrong with modern churches that look like anything but churches. Rose provides you with solid arguments (as easy to explain as they are hard to refute!) and practical tools that you can use to reverse the dangerous trend toward desacralized churches -- and to make our churches once again into magnificent Houses of God!
Praise for Ugly As Sin
Michael Morris, O.P., Crisis Magazine
Not since 1836, when Augustus Welby Pugin wrote Contrasts, a book that compared the bankruptcy of contemporary English architecture to the idealized gothicism of the Catholic past, has such a forceful argument been made for a return to architectural tradition. Like Contrasts, Rose's book is dynamite, and there will no doubt be critical attempts to defuse it. Nonetheless, Ugly As Sin may well lead to a complete reassessment of Catholic liturgy, art, and architecture, just as Pugin's work ended up reforming style and ritual in the Church of England.
Catesby Leigh, Touchstone
Clear, jargon-free, extremely informative, and generously illustrated with photographs. [Rose] throws in just the right amount of historical detail…without getting mired in art-historical minutiae.
Duncan Stroik, National Catholic Register
Not since J.B. O'Connell's Church Building and Furnishing of 1955 has there been such a complete work on the history, theology and practical aspects of designing the house of God. Ugly As Sin is rich in theological allusion, biblical meaning and Church teaching as they affect the architecture of the church. Accompanying a plethora of images of beautiful and ugly churches is Rose's enjoyable, witty and readable text.
Emily Oren, Los Angeles Times
…a useful index of architectural elements and their spiritual significance… it has a pleasingly accessible narrative shape and a logical design, making for easy reference.
About the Author
Michael S. Rose is the New York Times best-selling author of Goodbye, Good Men, and four other books: In Tiers of Glory, The Renovation Manipulation, Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger and Priest. Among other controversial issues, he writes frequently and compellingly on sacred architecture. Rose holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Brown University. He has worked in the offices of prominent architects in London, New York, San Francisco and Boston. His architectural criticism has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Catholic World Report, New Oxford Review, Adoremus Bulletin, Latin Mass, Sacred Architecture, and elsewhere.
I also took advantage of using these images for my senior thesis project,depicting my concept for a Therapeutic Equestrian Riding School....
look at their beauty...some of them have monster dreadlocks...
Many people, including Catholics themselves, have no idea why we walk around on Ash Wednesday with dirty black smudges on our foreheads.
First, it’s not a smudge. It’s supposed to be a cross drawn with ash. However, some of the people administering the ashes are a little better artists than others. Either way, it gets the job done.
Second, the ashes represent our mortality and are an outward sign of our sinfulness.
But why would anyone want to be reminded of this?
Perhaps because it’s true. We are indeed mortal - we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19). We are sinful too. And in a world that constantly says “if it feels good, do it” and suggests that a guilty conscience is just one more thing we need a prescription for, we definitely need this healthy dose of reality.
There is something much more important that must go along with this, though. It always helps to put everything we do in the Church in context with the most important event - the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter.
In this case, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is preparation for Easter. And real preparation for Easter isn’t done with travel plans, fervor over the Sunday afternoon meal, and a resolution to eat less chocolate. It’s done in your soul.
When we look in the mirror on Ash Wednesday and see that black smudge on our forehead, we should be reminded that, no matter what, we are still sinners in need of constant conversion. It is the Church calling us back once again to the graces of our baptism, to do penance, and amend our lives as we approach the greatest celebration in the Church - Easter.So don’t wear your ashes proudly, but make sure you wear them…and wear them humbly
The day after Fat Tuesday begins with suffering and self-sacrifice for many people…suffering from a hangover and a sacrificing of much needed sleep in order to make it to work on time. Somehow, I think many of us might be missing the point. For many, Fat Tuesday (English for Mardi Gras) seems to be just another reason to stay out late, drink heavily, expose ourselves, and commit all types of RAI (Random Acts of Immorality). And somehow it’s all excused because hey… it’s Mardi Gras!
Nobody likes to poop on a party, but it is quite obvious that we have lost sight of the true meaning of the festivities. If I thought that this next point would be contested by many, I might actually do a survey to verify it. But if we were to ask the average crowd on Bourbon Street during a Mardi Gras celebration, “What day is tomorrow?” I am willing to bet that many of them would not really have a clue what we were really asking. Midnight on Fat Tuesday is not just the end of the party, it’s the beginning of something much more significant and much more important. It’s the beginning of Lent. The day after Fat Tuesday is Ash Wednesday .
The whole purpose of Fat Tuesday is to feast in order to prepare for the fast of the 40 days of Lent. Traditionally, the feast consisted of fattened calves, dairy, eggs, fat, etc. that all had to be used up before Lent because the fast of Lent required abstaining from those things. This was back when the observed fast was generally stricter than just the “no meat on Fridays, etc.” that it is currently in the United States today. Fat Tuesday also marks the final day of the Carnival festivities, which comes from the words “Carne Vale,” meaning “farewell to the flesh.”
So the spirit of Fat Tuesday is one of preparation for the Lenten season to come. It is a farewell to the flesh. It is about preparing ourselves to die a little more to ourselves during Lent through fasting and abstinence in order to prepare for Good Friday and Easter, the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And since Easter is the climax of the Christian calendar, it deserves preparation. It is the Easter event that we celebrate most as Christians and, as Catholics, on a smaller scale every Sunday at Mass. So it is only appropriate that we prepare ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually to participate fully in the sacrifice and redemption of the cross. And we should do this for the celebration of the Mass each and every Sunday, but most especially for the Easter Mass. This Easter preparation is what the Church calls Lent.
The early Church, in its wisdom, evolved many of the pagan festivals and holidays existing during that time and turned them into Christian celebrations instead. This was because it was more difficult to kill existing traditions and begin new ones than it was to just change the meaning of the existing traditions. So what it did was take something that had strayed from God’s desires and converted it to a new meaning that pointed it back to God. (Which is pretty neat because that’s exactly what Christ came to do for us; He didn’t come to condemn our hearts, He came to convert them.)
Similarly, Fat Tuesday has its roots in hedonistic pagan rituals and celebrations, but the Church came and gave deeper meaning to them. It said, yes, be thankful for all these things you have, celebrate those, but here is Who you should be thanking: Jesus. And go ahead, live it up and be silly and happy. Fill yourselves with all of this wonderful food tonight, because tomorrow… tomorrow we fast and abstain for 40 days. Tomorrow we prepare for the real and ultimate fulfillment, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. Tomorrow we prepare to receive the eternal food, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. And of course with this new Christian purpose, even with all of the feasting and merriment prior to Lent, it was not an excuse to sin. It was a call to conversion from sinful traditions. It was just as much a call to repentance.
Unfortunately, currently we find ourselves very much back in that same situation. Most Mardi Gras celebrations today are a closer resemblance of the ancient hedonistic festivals than the Christian preparation for Lent that they are supposed to be. As Catholics (and other Christians who practice Lent), we must partially blame ourselves for allowing this holy time of year to be overshadowed by a drunken, over-indulgent, high-jacking of our own celebration. Like the early Church Christians, we have to give it meaning again. We have to point it back in the right direction — toward God. We have to allow ourselves to be converted and then work for the conversion of others. We shouldn’t wake up the day after Fat Tuesday suffering from a hangover. We should wake up immersed in the suffering and self-sacrifice of Lent. And everyone should know what day comes after Fat Tuesday. (article found at http://catholicexchange.com/2009/02/21/116108/)