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).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beauty is as beauty does. Part three: hearts of beauty build houses of beauty.

Living spaces, liturgical spaces, workplaces, play places — they condition human relationships. It could also be said that the spaces mirror the conditions of the souls of those who design them. Minds oriented to mere utility tend to produce buildings which are useful and not much else.

Interior spaces reflect the condition of the designer's soul as much as exteriors speak of the orientation of a building: God; or mammon. A sanctuary evacuated of poetry, what others might wrongly call clutter, offers little to draw the mind to things beyond what the rational mind can immediately comprehend.

Some buildings are like the near empty imaginations of their designers, dead zones bereft of liturgical oxygen where little breathes to offer praise to a God Who, by contrast, sustains us with life-giving grace and lavishes upon His children the beauty of creation.

The idea that our edifices should immerse worshippers in a robust liturgical cosmos that points to the supreme and sublime encounter with the Holy Trinity is lost among those who want to lock God away in a concrete bunker. In a sense, they want to protect their god, their image or theology of God. Such "bunker" thinking is, ironically, very safe and comfortable, which is probably why buildings which are neither psychologically or emotionally safe nor comforting look like bomb shelters.


Holy Trinity Chapel NY

How far removed from beauty does one have to be in order to not recognize heart disease?

A beautiful heart births a beautiful house.

A beautiful heart manifests in beautiful houses, houses of light and colour and textures which form a harmony or symphony of theological virtue that speak of God. Compare the two images above to the two below.

St Paul the Apostle, SC | designed by D. Stroik

St Paul the Apostle, SC
The sign of a healthy heart is the desire to lavish upon God and others the beauty that this world can offer.

What is fitting praise? The joy of an effusive beauty pouring forth from a grateful heart, a heart redeemed by love that is oriented to the Triune God Who fuels the imagination with His creative life.

We pray (thrice) during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during Mass,
Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.
Souls are restored to vigour in churches that radiate the healing beauty of God. Churches sanitized of art (and sacred music) tend to be noisy places. Noisy, because people tend to over compensate when the space itself does nothing for the imagination nor the heart.

The worst thing a designer can do is carpet a sanctuary. The living sound of the Liturgy—the various vocal registers which convey nuance (vox secreta, submissa voce, sotto voce, vox medicris, vox clara)—is squelched by an oppressive blanket thrown over the Liturgy. Instead of fostering intimacy, audio technologies employed to overcome the inertia of carpeted rooms can merely dampen people's senses to the melodies of the Holy Spirit expressed in and through the intimate timbres of the Mass that reach out into a reverberant space.

In a compromised room, the highly nuanced Mass becomes subject to and inhibited by human foibles instead of flowing through human personalities to illuminate, edify and orient hearts and minds to God.

Where the nuances of the Mass are suppressed, a cult of personality tends to emerge centred on the priest, or the music ministers who, to add distraction to an already distracted show, are placed in the sanctuary or near to it. Conversely, where a space embodies the Mass—it is said a cathedral "incarnates" the Incarnate Word—worshippers see and hear much more clearly the descent of heaven to earth and the ascent of earth to heaven. Voices placed in a choir loft, for example, have the freedom to accomplish unseen the practical aspects of their role in the Liturgy and, raised, are better "positioned" to act like the angelic voices that they mystically represent.
We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
Let us set aside the cares of life
That we may receive the King of all,
Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts.

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