So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home run by Duncan G. Stroik: Designing a church for the poor.

Thomas Aquinas College Chapel/Stroik.com

Perhaps, since the World Series is over, it's a bit late for baseball metaphors. Nevertheless, Professor Duncan G. Stroik throws a series of perfect pitches heralding the importance of constructing beautiful edifices that remind man of his dignity and which offer thanks and praise to God for the gifts He has given us to fashion noble sanctuaries that invite people to an intimate communion with their Creator.

The following excerpts are from a November 10, 2014 essay in Crisis Magazine by master architect Duncan G. Stroik.

Pay particular attention to Stroik's dismantling of false dichotomies created by those who routinely pit support for social justice programs against the Church's rich cultural, artistic and liturgical heritage, a heritage that should guide the Church's mission to the spiritually impoverished hand-in-hand with concern for the materially impoverished to form the vanguard of the New Evangelization. Man, after all, does not live on bread alone.
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.—Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta.
To those "Marthas" who do the good corporal works of the Gospel, but who often ignore the eternal soul of the person they serve, one might say: calm down. Breathe. Do not despise those who want to offer places of beauty in a world so often defined by the ugliness and brutality of war, persecution, indifference, condescension and neocolonial arrogance by NGOs sanctioned by western states and the United Nations.

Good Catholics should easily recognize Stroik's nuanced proposal as a thoroughly Catholic one. Professor Stroik's essay conveys a both/and approach, an approach that overcomes the iconoclasm of many an over zealous acolyte of materialism in the social(ist) justice movement while preserving the integrity of the Catholic mission and the dignity of man. I.e., the Church's love for all people.

Duncan G. Stroik's website: http://www.stroik.com/
Designing a Church for the Poor 
We all know that the poor need food and clothing, decent education and good jobs. But what about their spiritual and cultural needs? Can a church building serve the poor spiritually through the material? It is an expensive proposition, but I would suggest the answer is yes. Which leads us to the question, how to design a church for the poor?
  1. (A) church for the poor should be seen as a place for full-blooded laypeople who need to be drawn into the building through material and tactile means. It is a respite from the world that offers a glimpse of the heavenly Jerusalem to those living in Nineveh.
  2. A church for the poor does not have paintings of abstract or ugly figures but is full of beautiful images of holy men and women who overcame their sinfulness to draw close to God.
  3. A house for the poor should not be a modernist structure inspired by the machine, for the poor are surrounded and even enslaved by the machine and the technological. It is rather a building inspired by the human body, the New Adam, and the richness of his creation.
  4. A church for the poor is not hidden away in the suburbs or on a highway where it may never be seen and is difficult to get to. It should be placed where the poor are—near the poor villages or the destitute city neighborhoods and in prominent places like downtowns or city parks where the poor sometimes travel.
  5. A church for the poor should not look impoverished. It is one of the few public buildings that those without status or money are always welcome to enter. The poor may not often visit the art museum, the symphony hall, or the stately hotel. However, a worthy church can give the poor the experience of art, fine music, and nobility that the rich and middle class are happy to pay for. And in this way the Church acknowledges that high culture should be even for those who have nothing.
  6. A church for the poor is not only for the poor, it is for all—both rich and poor, proud and humble. Are there iconographical elements that might draw the needy and inspire others to give? Perhaps images of poverty in the lives of holy saints such as Francis, Dominic, Mother Teresa, and many others. Along with these, a church for the poor should have murals, stained glass, and side altars portraying the centrality of poverty in the life of Christ: The king is born in a stable, and his family must immigrate to a foreign land to survive.
For the full Article at Criss Magazine, click HERE: Designing a church for the Poor.

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