Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cathedralisms: What The Church Has Lost

Visiting the magnificent cathedral in the center of Seville, Spain's fourth-largest city and one of the most beautiful places on earth, it suddenly dawned on us: The Catholic Church has lost a certain grandeur; a certain presence; a certain ability to overwhelm.
This is ampoly evident in this Cathedral of St. Mary of the See, the largest cathedral in the world. Yes, St. Peter's  in Rome is larger but that is a bascilica, not a cathedral.
Here are five things that the Church has sort of forfeited or simply given away over the years:

1) Iconic figures of Cathollicism's various saints and martyrs. Somewhere along theline the veneration of the saints has been lost and devotion to the saints has been practically forgotten.

2) The suffering of Christ himself. The agony of Jesus -- the passion of the Christ -- is central to Catholicism. Yet, in many modern Catholic houses of worship we are hard pressed to find the crucifix with the corpus at the center of worship.

3) Devotion to Mary. The unyielding faith of Mary and her suffering go hand-in-hand with the passion of Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf. Far too often we find Mary shuttered away to a side entrance, a portico or even to the back of the church.

4) Elaborateness. In striving for simplicity, we've somewhow robbed the Church of its majesty. We need a sense of glory in this world. The Church should overwhelm us. The presence of God in the trinity should put things into persepective for us. We are  infinitesimal in His presence. We are not the center of the universe. He is.

5) Reverence. This means that the Church must inspire -- indeed, require -- a sense of decorum, proper behavior and even subjugation. Being amidst divinity we must act, dress and conduct ourselves in a cetrian manner. Sadly, rules and standards of coduct have fallen by the wayside.

Imagery and majesty and grandeur were always central to the Church.
They inspired us and urged us on to a higher calling.
We saw this in the cathedral in Seville. The photos below demonstrate that.
But we don't see this much more in typical Catholic churches -- particularly in America.
And we must ask ourselves as well: Should the Pope really be giving followers a thumbs-up sign as if we're all at a sporting event or some entertainment venue? Pope's bless us. They hold both hands out, palms toward the heavens, welcoming us and urging us to look to God. They're not put here to lead us in cheers or jeers, they're here to lead us in prayer.
Yes, religion is part of the popular culture. But Catholicism must transcends all that -- or at least it should. It must be enduring, classic, timeless.
We lose these essential qualities and characteristics at our own peril.
Look at these photos and think about it . . . .


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