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Vincent Twomey
Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture

The Second Fota International Liturgy Conference was held in Fota, Co. Cork, Ireland, from 12 – 13 July 2009 on the topic: "Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture".

In his introduction, Prof. D. Vincent Twomey, SVD (Maynooth, Ireland), decried the iconoclasm that wrought havoc on so many church buildings in the name of the conciliar reform of the liturgy and suggested a number of theological causes. He pointed to the difference between treating beauty as something peripheral, a matter of taste or a decoration, and (following Ratzinger) seeing beauty as being as  integral to liturgy as truth and goodness are.

 
 

D. Vincent Twomey
Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture

It is a great pleasure for me on behalf of the St Coleman Society for Catholic Liturgy to welcome you all to this, the Second International Liturgical Conference to be held here in Fota. Last year, the topic was the Reform of the Reform – the reform of the liturgy in general, which reform Pope Benedict XVI has long championed. This year we take up one aspect of the liturgy, perhaps not the most promising at first sight, since it has to do with what might appear to be something quite peripheral, aesthetics or beauty – or, to put it more prosaically, Church art and architecture. Antoni Gaudí, the Catalan architect of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, once said that "beauty is the image of truth", the manifestation or splendour of truth, we might say. Here he echoes a long tradition, as we will hear, that goes back to the ancient Greeks. To treat beauty as something peripheral – mere decoration – would indeed reflect the utilitarianism of our age, which, as we know, has profoundly influenced both modern Church architecture and the remodeling of older churches undertaken in the name of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Despite some impressive modern churches (one thinks immediately of Le Corbusier’s Chapelle Notre Dame de Haut built in 1950-1954), the result has not infrequently been church buildings with all the charm of a fridge. The changes were seen primarily in functional terms – there were even a number of multi-purpose churches, churches serving also as parish halls. And they were built for a liturgy that itself was reduced to a minimum of ritual and images. The ancient heresy of iconoclasm (= the destruction of images), as it were, entered the Church through the reform of the liturgy after the Council, though it had been anticipated by earlier buildings influenced by the Bauhaus movement. As we will hear, the debate about the legitimacy of sacred images touched on the most profound of theological issues, so that the Eastern Orthodox Churches consider the Second Council of Nicaea (AD 787) that settled the matter definitively as the "orthodox" council par excellence. I am reminded of what the great German writer, Heinrich Heine, once said when he stood before Antwerp Cathedral in awe at its beauty: "The men who built these [cathedrals] had dogmas [i.e., eternal truths]. We have only opinions. And with opinions one does not build cathedrals." (1) There were no dogmas behind the reform of the Liturgy since Vatican II. Theological opinions abounded, and not the richest of such opinions either. According to Tracey Rowland, the Australian theologian in her overview of Ratzinger’s theology, (2) the theology that guided the Liturgical Commission presided over by Cardinal Lercaro with the assistance of Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, as secretary, was a neo-Scholasticism that was both a-historical and a-cultural. It was only interested in essences: in a word, it was minimalist. The irony is that the whole thrust of the Council was to overcome that kind of theology. The tragedy is that most of the liturgical experts who carried out their radical reforms "in the spirit of Vatican II" shared this same desiccated neo-Scholasticism. (3) There was another influential factor which, it seems to me, fostered the minimalist approach to the liturgy, namely the legalistic mindset of the same liturgists. Though many of the faithful and even some clerics were upset by the destruction of beautiful altars, communion rails, tabernacles, etc., many of which ended up decorating lounge bars, their protests were dismissed by a display of clerical arrogance that justified itself by claiming obedience to the liturgical reforms of the Council. Reforming clerics too often rode roughshod over the sensibilities of the faithful, even their familial sensitivities, since many of these artifacts were donated by their grandparents, etc. in financially straightened times. It is no wonder that many believers were alienated from the Church. But leaving that aside, the changes in the church building also profoundly affected not only the worship of those who stayed behind and endured the new stripping of the altars: they also affected our image of God. The English secular philosopher, Roger Scruton, once commented perceptively: "Changes in the liturgy take on a momentous significance for the believer, for they are changes in his experience of God – changes, if you wish to be Feuerbachian, in God himself" (quoted by Rowland, p. 128). This, I think, is well illustrated by a poem by a Limerick poet Tim Cunningham entitled "Tabernacle":(4) It was bold, this house of gold,/ Its golden door on fire, alive, / Dead centre on the high altar, Regal, expecting the homage of bent/ Knees. The sanctuary lamp flickered/ Saying God was in. They moved Him to a side altar./ I see their point, a changing/ Liturgy for changing times, Diluted like whiskey on the rocks,/ An accessible deity discreet about/ His thunderclap and lightening bolt, A guy-next-door god/ Who can share a pint/ And chat about the football scores. But some old codgers moan,/ Imagine the whiz kids/ Have taken over the manor; Cobbled together/ A granny-annexe-bathchair-god/ To wheel out on occasion. The profound significance of the break with the Church’s two-thousand-year-old tradition is perhaps best illustrated by Otto von Simpson in his classic work on the Gothic Cathedrals, (5) where he speaks of the universal understanding of what a church building means for the Church: "The church building is symbolically and liturgically an image of heaven. … The authoritative formulas of the rite of consecration of a church refer expressly to the relationship between the vision of the heavenly city as depicted in Revelation and the building that is to be erected." (p. 21). According to von Simpson, the images of Christ in glory seated on a throne and surrounded by the heavenly court as found in Romanesque churches indicate the "anti-functionalism" of the Romanesque and Byzantine art: "the mystical experience that such frescos or mosaics are intended to awake in the faithful is entirely otherworldly; the depiction of the heavenly vision should make us forget that we happen to find ourselves in a building made of stone and cement, since indeed we have already entered into the heavenly sanctuary interiorly" (pp.21-2). Von Simpson goes on to show how the Gothic architecture marvellously incarnated this vision in stone and glass as determined by the speculations on geometry first articulated by Augustine under the influence of the Pythagoreans. In a different cultural context, the same vision guided the artists who created the Baroque, which style the art historian, Kenneth Clarke,(6) described as the natural reaction of Catholics to the world- and body-denying spirituality of the Reformation, which also featured some not inconsiderable iconoclasm. According to Tracey Rowland, one of the great differences between Benedict XVI and Paul VI is to be found in their attitude to beauty. For Paul VI, it seems to have been mostly a matter of taste, something external to theology. For the present Pope it is otherwise. In harmony with St Bonaventure’s comments on God revealing Himself first in the beauty of creation, for Benedict "the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty" (quoted on p. 131), it is an essential element of the liturgical action, like the experience of Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. Further, Benedict XVI is acutely aware of the necessity for reason to combine with aesthetic and intuitive sensibility, both in liturgy and art. This approach colours Ratzinger’s own reflections on liturgical music. (The same could be said about his approach to art and architecture, since, as Augustine at one with Plato held, music and architecture were sisters.) Ratzinger opposes the utility music once advocated by Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler, who stressed its pedagogical value. "Ratzinger’s argument is that liturgy is about worship of the Triune God; it is neither pedagogy or psychotherapy" (p. 132). These are legitimate human needs, namely catechesis or making people feel cosy, but they might be catered for elsewhere. "A Church which only makes use of ‘utility’ music has fallen for what is, in fact, useless. She too becomes ineffectual. For her mission is a higher one …The Church must not settle down with what is merely comfortable and serviceable at the parish level; she must arouse the voice of the cosmos and, by glorifying the Creator, elicit the glory of the cosmos itself, making it also glorious, beautiful, habitable and beloved. Next to the saints, the art which the Church has produced is the only real ‘apologia’ for her history. … The Church must maintain high standards; she must be a place where beauty can be at home; she must lead the struggle for that ‘spiritualisation’ without which the world becomes the ‘first circle of hell’". (7) Considering the crises in which Church and society in Ireland find themselves, holding a conference on beauty must seem to many to be a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned. In fact, at the height of the emotional tsunami that followed the publication of the Ryan Report (May 2008), I too was tempted to advocate the cancellation of this conference. I expressed my doubts to a correspondent of mine, an eminent judge and author whose judgement I greatly respect. His reply was short and simple: "Now is the time to do things, I suspect, not to postpone them." This conference is a small attempt to light a candle in the prevailing darkness, to encourage others to think again about the greatness of the liturgy, its cosmic and sacral nature that alone can enable us to lift up our hearts to God in worship and to face even the future no matter how bleak with hope and joy in our hearts. The recent reform of the liturgy, for all the enrichment it has brought to us, such as hearing the Word of God in our own language, was, it might be argued, one of the things that hastened the slow-motion implosion of the Church in Ireland over the past few decades. The reform of the reform is, it seems to me, one of the necessary steps in a renewal of the Church here in Ireland and elsewhere. True liturgy, like what we experienced this morning with the Extraordinary Rite, (8) can do precisely that. It helps restore our human dignity.

Finally, the theme of this conference reminds me of the famous comment by Dostoyevsky, which Solzhenitsyn quoted in his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, a speech that had to be read out for him as he was refused permission to leave the Soviet Union to collect it: (I quote from memory) "When truth and goodness are effectively banished from society then beauty will save the world."

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1 As quoted in 30 Days (June 1990), p. 3. Antwerp is mentioned as the cathedral, though my memory of this quotation, when I first came across it, was that it referred to Strasbourg Cathedral.

 

 

2 Tracey Rowland, Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

3 This point was contested by Cardinal Pell and Dr Michael Uwe Lang, who claimed that the minimalism that characterized the recent liturgical reform was due rather to the influence of the Enlightenment. In response, I would argue that it was precisely due to their efforts at overcoming the Enlightenment that neo-Scholasticism absorbed some of the unspoken assumptions of the Enlightenment. Admittedly, that is a thesis that would merit further study. Responding to an earlier draft of this talk, Pater Professor Stephan O. Horn SDS made the following comment: "I am, however, not as critical with regard to church building as you are. What I mean is that in Germany many, good, new beginnings were made especially since the 1920s. It seems to me, of course, that Romano Guardini theologically and practically prepared the way for a tendency towards reduction to what is essential. Obviously, that would need to be studied more closely with regard to its significance or questionableness."

4 Tim Cunningham, Kyrie (Limerick: Revival Press, 2008), p.18.

5 Originally written in English, The Gothic Cathedral. Origin of Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of Order (New York, NY: Bolingen foundation, Inc., 1956). Since this was not available to me, I used the German translation of the second revised edition (1962), Die gothische Kathedrale. Beitrag zu ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung (Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1979); the translation is my own.

 

6 Kenneth Clarke, Civilisation, A Personal View, London, British Broadcasting Corporation and John Murray, 1969, which is ‘made up of the scripts of a series of television programmes given in the spring of 1969’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith, quoted by Rowland, op. cit., p. 133.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 This is a reference to the Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell in the Parish Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Cork City, on the occasion of the sesquicentenary of church designed by Edward Welby Pugin. The sacred music was provided by Lassus Scholars, Dublin.

 

SUMMARY REPORT

The Second Fota International Liturgy Conference was held in Fota, Co. Cork, from 12 – 13 July 2009 on the topic: "Benedict XVI on Church Art and Architecture". It was organized by the St Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy. His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney gave the keynote address.

In his introduction, Prof. D. Vincent Twomey, SVD (Maynooth, Ireland), who chaired conference, decried the iconoclasm that wrought havoc on so many church buildings in the name of the conciliar reform of the liturgy and suggested a number of theological causes. He pointed to the difference between treating beauty as something peripheral, a matter of taste or a decoration, and (following Ratzinger) seeing beauty as being as  integral to liturgy as truth and goodness are. The utilitarianism of the age favours the former, as was manifest in the reform. Benedict XVI, on the other hand, is acutely aware of the necessity for reason to combine with aesthetic and intuitive sensibility, both in liturgy and art. Twomey also pointed to the profound theological implications of the reordering of the liturgical space in the wake of the recent liturgical reforms, something that few adverted to at the time. To quote the English philosopher, Roger Scruton: "Changes in the liturgy take on a momentous significance for the believer, for they are changes in his experience of God …" Once such change was the removal of the tabernacle from its former position on the altar to a side-altar. The theory of Tracey Rowland, mentioned by Twomey, that the post-conciliar liturgical reforms, with their stress on reducing everything to the essentials, were inspired a kind of neo-Scholasticism that was a historical and a cultural was hotly disputed later in the discussion. All the papers were inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s aesthetics, i.e. his understanding of the nature of beauty. This was the topic of the opening paper by Monsignor Joseph  Murphy (Rome) and the keynote address by Cardinal Pell. Mons. Murphy’s paper was entitled: "The Fairest and the Formless: The Face of Christ as Criterion for Christian Beauty according to Joseph Ratzinger". For the Pope, the most persuasive proof of the truth of the Christian message, offsetting everything that may appear negative, "are the saints on the one hand, and the beauty that the faith has generated, on the other". Hence, for faith to grow today, "we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to come in contact with the beautiful". After outlining the patristic debate with regard to how Jesus Christ could be said to be beautiful, Murphy describes the way beauty wounds the soul and so awakens man to his higher destiny. The beauty of truth appears in Christ, the beauty of God himself, who powerfully draws us and inflicts on us the wound of Love, as it were, "a holy Eros that enables us to go forth, with and in the Church, his Bride, to meet the Love who calls us." His beauty is the manifestation of his love, a love poured out for others. Finally, addressing one of Ratzinger’s favourite themes, seeking the face of God, itself one of the primordial themes of Scripture, Murphy points out how seeing Christ is only possible to those who follow Him. As in much else, here Ratzinger takes his inspiration from the Fathers of the Church. Cardinal Pell, in his paper entitled: "Benedict XVI on Beauty: Issues in the Tradition of Christian Aesthetics" took up several of the themes mentioned by Murphy and developed them. He stress that, for Ratzinger, the truth of love can transform the ugliness of the world – manifested in its extreme on the Cross – into the beauty of the Resurrection. According to Plato beauty is profoundly realistic: it wounds man and so makes him desire the Transcendent. Thus beauty causes a painful longing of the human heart for God. By way of contrast, falsehood suggests that reality is ugly and so promotes either a cult of the ugly or the craving for transient pleasure to escape from the ugliness. Addressing the question of the interaction of the Gospel and culture, Ratzinger argues that the Logos purifies and heals all cultures – and so enables them to achieve their full potential as culture. Though the Hebrew and Greek cultures retain their unique significance for the faith – as the linguistic vehicles of Salvation History – the Gospel itself transcends all cultures. Pell also examined Ratzinger’s theology of music. One of the points he makes is that music is the place where the clash between good and evil is played out at a certain level of society. Ratzinger rejects pop-music, the music equivalent of kitsch, because through it the soul is swallowed up in the senses. Finally, Pell pointed out that, for Ratzinger, there must be a proper understanding of Church, of liturgy, and of music. The Church is not simply the local community but is always Catholic, that is, the whole Church universal, including the cosmic dimension of salvation. Liturgy must be understood as the work of God, not some human fabrication or action. Each rite, therefore, is an objective form of the Church’s worship. And when the languages of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic are put to music, they should evoke awe and receptivity for what is beyond sense. Sacred music should be a synthesis of sense, sensibility and sound. Finally, Cardinal Pell stressed that simple, orthodox faith remains the single most important factor in the celebration of the liturgy. The philosophical implications of the above understanding of beauty were the subject of Fr Daniel Gallagher (Rome) paper: "The Liturgical Consequences of Thomistic Aesthetics: exploring some philosophical aspects of Joseph Ratzinger’s Aesthetics." Gallagher formulated the basic question as follows: "what has reason to do with beauty". This led to a discussion of Thomistic aesthetics (is beauty for Thomas a transcendental?) and the subsequent theory of Emmanuel Kant. For Thomas, beauty, though originating in subjective experience, is a form of objective knowledge. Kant sets out to find what he considered to be objective criteria to determine the validity of the subjective experience of beauty. The basic question was resolved with the help of Jacques Maritain (in the Thomist tradition) and in opposition to Umberto Eco (in the Kantian tradition). "Maritain seamlessly connects aesthetic beauty to transcendental beauty, whereas Eco despairs of finding a passage from  transcendental beauty to aesthetic beauty." Gallagher drew out some of the implications of this for liturgy:  Beauty is not instrumental, but the very way of experiencing the Triune God in the liturgy. Thus beauty engages the intellect such that God’s Word and life are apprehended in a way that transcends the imparting of information. Most importantly, if beauty is most especially related to the good, then the beauty of the liturgy is directly connected with moral life – and thus concerned with culture as the context for the promotion of virtue. This paper provoked perhaps the most lively discussion of all the papers. Dr Janet Rutherford (Castelpollard, Co. Westmeath, Ireland) in her paper, "Eastern Iconoclasm and the Defence of Divine Beauty" outlined the turbulent political background to, and profound theological issues at stake in, the first major iconoclastic controversy in the Church, which culminated in the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second Council of Nicaea (AD 787).  At stake was nothing less than the unity of divine-human nature of Christ as defended above all by St Maximus the Confessor. For the latter, the icon was not a sign of absent realities; the realities themselves were made present to the beholder of the icon. The icons are thus for the believer windows onto eternity. For the East, Second Nicaea is the "orthodox" Council par excellence, an indication not only of their appreciation for the teaching of the Council but also of the centrality of the icon in the life, liturgy, and theology of Easter Christians. According to Maximus, icons, by stressing the humanity of Christ, evoke the possibility of our humanity being divinized, theosis, whereby, according to Rutherford, the Greek notion of theosis is other than the Western notion of divinization. With deft strokes of the brush Rutherford sketched the rich theology of the icon developed by medieval Orthodox theologians such as Nicholas Cabasilas and modern theologians like Paul Evdokimov. These were inspired by the great Fathers of the Church, such as St John of Damascus, who stressed that the Incarnation restored material humanity to its original innocence, and St Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, who defended the veneration of images and paid for it by resigning and going into exile to die in obscurity – until his reputation was restored at Second Nicaea. Rutherford eloquently demonstrated what Ratzinger once claimed in one of his writings, when he wrote that, with regard to the liturgy, we have a lot to learn from the East. One of the most fascinating papers was delivered by Dr Helen Ratner Dietz (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A): "The Nuptial Meaning of Classic Church Architecture". She described how, after Constantine, the Roman basilica was transformed by the inheritance of Judaism. The main influence here reached back to Sinai, which was understood in terms of the bridal covenant between God and Israel. This in turn led to Israel’s expectation that, in the final days, God the Bridegroom would consummate his union with Israel, His Bride. This final consummation was anticipated in the Temple liturgy, which determined the architecture of the Temple of Solomon. There the Holy of Holies was understood in terms of the Bridal Chamber – in imitation of the wedding canopy used in the Jewish wedding ceremonies (as was used up to the Christian Middle Ages). The High Priest represented not only the Bridegroom, but, when he entered the Holy of Holies, the Bride, Israel. The Jerusalem Temple was divided into three, with three sets of steps leading up to the Holy of Holies. The Temple Veil represented this world, or rather the whole of creation, symbolized by the colours of the elements (white, blue, red and purple), which also have bridal significance. These colours were likewise those of external vestments of the High Priest who represented Israel’s God, the Creator of heaven and earth. The Holy of Holies was a perfect cube, symbol of the spiritual world, the heavens above the heavens. As in the Jewish tradition, the bridegroom takes on the vulnerability of the bride to protect her from the dangers inherent in child-bearing (and is vested accordingly), the High Priest, divesting himself of his glorious vestments and clad in a simply linen tunic, takes on the vulnerability of the Bride Israel when he entered the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur (cf. Is 61:10).. Christ called himself the Bridegroom and so claimed to be the High Priest. What is less noticed is that, when he took on the vulnerability of humanity in the incarnation, he identified Himself with the Bride when he into the Temple not made of human hands through his Death on the Cross. Dietz stressed that, for the Jewish – and later the Christian – tradition, God is totally hetero, other, and Israel is hetero to God. Only in this way, can we understand the "role-exchange" between bridegroom and bride that is characteristic of both Jewish nuptial ceremonies and the Temple liturgy. The form of Christian church-buildings was profoundly shaped by this Jewish tradition, which itself was rooted in the pagan Semitic traditions of the ancient Near East. The Church took over the tripartite division of the Temple and, in the place of the Holy of Holies, the wedding canopy or baldachin over the altar that, like the nuptial chamber, was surrounded by curtains that were only opened to reveal the elevated Host and Chalice. Like the Temple it faced east, but now with a new meaning: the rising sun represented the return of the Bridegroom in glory at the end of time for the final consummation now anticipated each time the Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated on the altar. Perhaps one of the most radical changes in the liturgy after the Council – though not recommended, or even mentioned, by Sacrosanctum concilium – was the change in the position of the celebrant, who now faces the congregation, instead of facing East with the congregation.  Facing East was the common practice (with some notable exceptions, such as St Peter’s in Rome due to space problems caused by building the Constantinian basilica over the tomb of Peter) at least since the second century. Christian worship was in the direction of the Rising Sun and no longer in the direction of the Jerusalem Temple, as in the Jewish synagogue. This was a central topic taken up Dr Uwe Michael Lang, Cong. Or., in his paper entitled: "Louis Bouyer and Church Architecture: Resourcing Benedict XVI’s Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy". Lang showed both the indebtedness of Ratzinger to Bouyer but also the selective use the former made of the latter by avoiding Bouyer’s more controversial and polemical points  and by stressing continuity in the liturgical reform. Lang showed how Ratzinger took up and developed Bouyer’s insight into the cosmic and eschatological significance of the liturgical call after the liturgy of the Word around the bema (a raised platform for the liturgy of the Word in the centre of the basilica): "Conversi ad orientem". Moving to the altar in the apse, priest and people faced the East, acknowledging the cosmic and eschatological dimensions of Christian worship. The rising sun symbolizes the final Return of the Risen Lord now anticipated in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Lang pointed out that celebrating the Sacrifice facing the people tends to eclipse the transcendental dimension of the liturgy. In the reformed rite, God tends to be absorbed into the community whereas in facing East what is expressed is the dialogue between the People of God and God Himself. Further, the sacrificial character of the Mass tends to be downplayed while the Mass tends to be seen primarily as a sacred banquet. In the discussion, the Chair pointed out that, according to the English anthropologist, Mary Douglas, in her book, Natural Symbols, one of the reasons why this radical change found immediate acceptance was because it found a resonance in the contemporary culture which, in terms of the different categories of cultural expression, has a close affinity to the culture of nomads, for whom the focus of their gatherings is the fire. Huddled around the fire, they find comfort from the darkness and alienation of the surrounding world. Dr Alcuin Reid (London, England) read a though-provoking paper entitled "Noble Simplicity Revisited" on one of the central recommendation of the Sacrosanctum concilium for the reform of the liturgy (SC 34). He traced the origins of the term "noble simplicity" back to Edmund Bishop (1899) who described the genius of the Roman Rite  in terms of sobriety, simplicity and austerity. This was further developed by Dr Adrian Fortescue (1912), though modified significantly in 1945, by the Anglican Dom Gregory Dix. According to the latter, there was no squalor in the pre-Nicene liturgy (as we know from Eusebius), which in fact was marked dignity and splendour. Reid concludes that there was "noble simplicity" should not be understood as distaste for ritual itself or its later embellishments. Though some liturgist called for "a certain spiritual unction" in the Rites, the reference to the didactic and pastoral nature of the liturgy became one of the central preoccupations of the Bugnini Commission, which was primarily concerned with the principle of what Reid claims was the translation of participatio actuosa as "active participation" instead of "actual participation". The latter implies interiority and promotes contemplation. In this context, "noble simplicity", which is a practical policy and not a dogmatic statement (and thus open to disagreement), takes on a rather more radical meaning that that perhaps originally intended. Is this principle not in need of a critical reappraisal? According to McManus, the principle should be evangelical and not render the liturgy banal. Unfortunately, some, perhaps influenced by Jungmann’s theory of the corruption of the liturgical tradition and his distinction between the essentials and the non-essentials, understand "noble simplicity" to mean a rupture with tradition. Thus a new Puritanism arose (K. Flanagan). The irony is that the reforms satisfied none of the constituents which the reforms were supposed to appeal to (youth, educated, etc.), who find the liturgy mostly boring. Others, such as Catherine Pickstock, have produced trenchant criticisms of the reforms. Interestingly, Sacramentum caritatis does not even mention the terms "noble simplicity". The main question today is; to what extent do the rites contribute to "actual participation" of the faithful in worship. Mr Ethan Anthony (Boston, USA), a practicing church architect in the tradition established by Ralph Adams Cram (1889-1942), gave an illustrated talk on the topic: "The Third Revival: New Gothic and Romanesque Catholic Architecture in North America". Cram’s basic policy as an architect was summed up in his statement: "I want people who come into church to be taken out of themselves". For him, beauty is a manifestation of the divine. We simply need beauty to be human. However, as in all art so too with architecture, inspiration can only be received not fabricated. "We need architects who see though the eyes of faith". According to Anthony, the First Revival was inspired by Newman and Pugin. The Second was under the influence of Willam Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Under the influence of Gropius and the Bauhaus movement that flourished in the Weimar Republic and came to the USA from 1939, there was a period in the 1950s in the suburban Catholic Church when concrete-block churches became fashionable. The Third Revival began with work on the restoration of older churches, which in turn required the re-learning of older skills more akin to the building of the medieval churches. Soon congregations wanted new churches built in the older style, a more distinctly sacral style than found in the modern buildings. The question was raised: could we build churches in the traditional styles, where faith was expressed through the medium of stone and glass. In dialogue with the pastors and their congregations, architects began to design new church buildings under the inspiration of those medieval masterpieces scattered around Europe and using new materials that were both cost-effective and, in terms of design, modern. Anthony’s power-point presentation of many of these magnificent churches of the Third Revival captivated the audience. In another fascinating power-point presentation, Professor Duncan G. Stroik (Notre Dame, USA) addressed the topic "All the great works of art are a manifestation of God: Pope Benedict XVI and the Architecture of Beauty". Stroik used the magnificent church buildings of Bavaria that formed the background to Ratzinger’s theory of beauty and gave it its existential depth. Here in particular the meaning of the Baroque period was made accessible to an audience that has little experience of that style – and indeed are often rather sceptical of its value. All of the papers highlighted new aspects of the theme. However the final paper was the most surprising of all. Dr Neil J. Roy (Peterborough, Canada) discussed the topic "The Galilee Chapel: A Medieval Notion Comes of Age", which certainly opened up new vistas for the participants. The Galilee Chapel has its origins in the Cluniac monasteries, where it formed the place where processions started in memory of the beginning of the public ministry of Our Lord in Galilee. From thence, the procession moved to Jerusalem, the sanctuary area. Using Durham’s monastic Cathedral as his starting point, Roy described the development of the Galilee Chapel, in particular in Cluny, before making some important suggestions about restoring the institution – and with it the baptistery – to the front of the church and decorating it with suitable motives. With this paper, the conference looked to the future and the possibility if innovation based on the inspiration taken from the Cluniac tradition.

D. Vincent Twomey SVD, 18th July 2009

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