Page 6, 29th June 1962

29th June 1962
Page 6
Page 6, 29th June 1962 — Difficulties But more than a following of rules is needed

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Difficulties But more than a following of rules is needed

to design a church, and throughout the book there is clearly an acceptance of the difficulties to he encountered in correctly interpreting the laws of the Church.

Interpretation of laws Is notoriously difficult, and perhaps because the Church has always been tolerant of custom and tradition, errors do arise in taking the rubrics too literally, or by failing to consider them in actual or historical context.

For example, the rubrics of the Missal refer to the congregation at Mass as being circumstances—those who stand around; this term has sometimes been taken too literally, and it has been concluded erroneously, that the Altar should stand in the centre of the church surrounded by the congregation. This error occurs in considering the altar without due regard to the general rubrics of the Mass.

Nevertheless the importance of the altar cannot be overstated. 11 is the one part of the church about which most detailed regulations are provided, and a large section of Canon O'Connell's book is devoted to the altar and it's furnishings. Tradition and symbolism are discussed as having their rightful place, but for the church, tradition is the starting point — not the ultimate.

Ecclesiastical tradition does not demand sepetition of ancient and outmoded customs, but rather an understanding of the use of material things to remind men of spiritual truths which have remained constant through the ages.

Thus the rules arc "formularised" and it is for priest and architect to ensure that they are correctly interpreted in providing the House of God, a place fitting for the sacred action of community worship.

* *

In recent years there has been much discussion about the design of churches and the liturgical movement, and because this interest has coincided with the changing face of church architecture, there is a tendency to consider one as being responsible for the other.

I mention this, because there is a liturgical re-awakening and it is well to understand in what manner the liturgy affects the design of churches.

The difficulty in understanding is not lessened by vague references to the need to build in a manner fitting to our time, although in church design it is not so much a matter of styles. for the design of a church is not a question of style but of purpose.

Immaturity To understand the problems of church design it is necessary to know something of what the liturgy means, and why the church stresses the need for a living liturgy. The answer is partly found by looking back to the early Church, in which Christian life flourished and overcame a decadent empire because of a living liturgy. Holy Scriptures entered deeply into the formularies of the Mass and into morning and evening devotions. Psalms and spiritual canticles formed part of the ordinary devotions of the people and there prevailed an active participation in the life of the Church.

With the Middles Ages Christian education altered and people became less appreciative of the Church as the mystical body of Christ. Public worship was less communitarian and more formally clerical. Because of this the formative influence of the liturgy was weakened and resulted in religious immaturity.

The liturgy is a community response to the commandment to love God and one's neighbour, and is quite apart from devotions of a private and personal nature. Participation in the Liturgy means actively taking part, and knowing that it is much more than rites and ceremonies.

Participation In this age, we have more and more become observers rather than doers, requiring passive entertainment almost as a need for living. But if the sense of being involved in the liturgy is lost, then the liturgy loses its purpose and becomes a spectacle.

Participation is essential, but in order to participate it is

essentiai that the place of corporate worship meets the needs of the liturgy. Unchanged For us, living in what might described as a post-Christian e the task remains unchanged; 1 House of God, a sacred place fil: with the divine presence, is the closing of a space where the pea of God assemble primarily to ce brace the re-presentation of the deeming sacrifice: a place receive the sacraments and to le preached the word of God. serves for liturgical and non-lit gical worship, for private and dividual devotions. In the chuff we are baptised and from church we are buried. Here we ceive the sacraments and celebr the great feasts of the year. 1" All this is the Church's Mort which springs from and is par mount in the sacrifice of tl Mass and the church must I designed to meet these requir meats and thus allow active pa ticlpation by the community.

It has been said that 'to des a church is nut to indulge cosmic-religious moods . More required and this involves ratio thinking, and awareness of purpc The church should not be spiritual ark isolated in a sea secularism. Physically it sho stand as the centre of commut life and it would seem desire where possible in new areas development to aim for a tr domus ecclesiae with church, pi bytery, school, hall, lib's together with charitable and of services grouped as a unit, a c centration of the forces of Church, with the church domii ing and providing a spiritual

Christian cultural centre.

* Church Building and Don ing, (Burns & Oates, 10s.6

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