Thursday, July 21, 2011

Letters: temples of worship or the problem of Ugly catholic churches


A couple of years ago while I was attending Drexel University, I was introduced to some great people at Saint Agatha's Church which made my time at Drexel so much sweeter. The buildings, however, (Penn Newman, Drexel Newman) did not reflect in any way the kind of dignity and inspiration that we as catholics express through our community and after speaking to Father.......... and a few others, it was clear that the Penn Newman center should have (architecturally) better ecclesial harmony with the adjacent and beautiful St. Agatha's Church.

Having returned to Mater Ecclesia and seen the beauty of the mystical body, I was inclined to respond by using my gifts for the good of the community at large. After spending some time both at Penn Newman and Drexel Newman for those coveted moments of refuge and prayer and seeing the ten o' clock evening Mass adorned by so many collegial faithful--my inclinations were reaffirmed. We truly are the seedlings of the 'New Springtime' that John Paul II had seen and proclaimed to the world by his apostolic love and authority. Why shouldn't this have influence on the buildings that we use? As a catholic, I feel it necessary that we usher in this 'Beauty' by looking at the built environment and our temples of worship with a stronger catechesis. Architecture possesses ideology and we who are most vulnerable to the decline in precedence in buildings should be the ones to promote an architecture that is efficacious for a present-day renaissance. There is something to be said about a time when men looked at architecture and said:" non-murato ma veramenta nato" (Vasari, 16th century painter, architect).

This time for the Church is a return to orthodoxy, a time of renewal, and a time to joyfully adhere to the teachings that have always produced fruit. After reading Pope Benedict XVI's Post -Apostolic Synod 'SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS', I was encouraged by his attention to the Eucharistic community and his emphasis on the Eucharist and how every catholic reform has had to do with the recognition of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist among the people. This is by no coincidence. This is the kind of catechesis that we as 'young catholics' are so craving. Our culture is equally craving community. The task at hand for us as designers and architects then, is to render these truths by preparing a place for the banquet table wherever the faithful gather. As all elements of classical architecture come in three's, so it is with the Church, the Trinity and so I trust that I am not alone in these efforts. This venture for me is like the restoring of an ancient Icon as I look to Our Lady of Perpetual Help or I should say the 'Arc (architecture) of the covenant', for guidance.

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