Catholic Herald Reporter
LONG, narrow churches are no longer suitable, as they do not readily foster participation in the Mass. The nave should be designed to promote a oneness among the worshippers, church interiors should be arranged so as to give prominence to the sanctuary, confessionals should be welcoming instead of "dark and forbidding", and baptistries should be spacious enough for large groups.
These were a few of the practical suggestions on church design and planning made in
Detroit last week at a conference organised by the Detroit Archdiocesan Liturgical and Building Commission and the Detroit University School of Architecture. It was attended by 350 delegates.
'MUST UNDERSTAND' They were told by Fr. William Leonard, Si., of the Boston College Theology Department, that before considering the kind of building in which the liturgy is to be celebrated, the liturgy itself must be studied. "Unless we understand the theology of the liturgy, the changes will only irritate us," he said.
Fr. Leonard said that in calling for changes in the liturgy, the Vatican Council was trying to integrate worship with man's daily life. He suggested a number of changes, among them the location of the tabernacle outside the sanctuary, preferably in a small side chapel where it would neither obstruct the view nor the attention of worshippers.
The other main speaker was Fr. Godfrey Diekmann, 0.S.B., an expert at the Vatican Council, consultor to the post-concil'ar Liturgical Commission and editor of Worship magazine. He suggested that preconceived notions of what a church should look like be eliminated since we were entering what appeared to be a completely new era in church
The Church. maintained Fr. Dickmann, is the worshipping people of God and church design should stress and promote the un'ty of the congregation with the celebrant, and the community itself. A sense of intimacy must be maintained.
'DIVINE INSTITUTION' "It is by divine institution," continued Fr. Diekmann, "that the people of God are "structured", that is, hierarchy and laity. The idea of headship must be maintained."
The church, he insisted, is realised locally at the diocesan and parish levels. "Parish churches should reflect the spirit of humility. Whom arc we trying to kid, erecting rich and sumptuous parish buildings?" asked Fr. Diekmann.
The resources of art and architecture should collaborate in expresstng the genius of man and should he reflected in its proper place, the cathedral church, he urged.
The final basic theological consideration, said Fr. Diekmann. was that the church is constituted by the Eucharist (Const. on the Sacred L'turgy, Article I0). "The primary function of the church." he said, "is the place where the Eucharistic banquet is celebrated. This relationship between the Eucharist and other sacraments must be evident."
NEVER EXISTED Another speaker, Prof. John Lawrence, Dean of Tulane University's School of Architecture, said that any new church undertaken today will be more of a failure than a success. The kind of church needed today has never existed, he said.
"Today we can build a church purely for worship," he se:cf. This was referring to the huge churches erected in the Middle Ages for other than religious reasons. As one way of getting new and refreshing church design Prof. Lawrence suggested that architects be selected after they have become noted for their secular buildings even if they have never designed a chuseitt before.