Friday, March 28, 2008

The courage to be beautiful

Carolina Canonball just posted this picture of the beautiful sanctuary at St. Agnes' church in St. Paul, MN:

My first reaction... "Would we even have the guts to build something so ... in-your-face Catholic these days?" Aside from the work of the likes of Duncan Stroik, even those new churches we are building which pass the muster of beautiful I question whether we have the courage to transcend beauty at a generic level to bring out the fullness open only to the Catholic (and yes, the Orthodox share in that fullness but truly in their own unique way) faith.

I'm not suggesting that every new church or every retrofit need go for the high Baroque but simply fully, truly, totally Catholic. If you were to walk into the above-pictured church you would immediately know it's Catholic, you would immediately know you were in the domus Dei. But it takes a certain self-assuredness - not triumphalism - to build something which says, "we have built here of the best we have to offer to God, we have emptied our warehouse in our desire to honor and praise Him". When you're not really sure of yourself, of your methods of expression, you naturally hold back that which is so clearly identifying and trend towards the middle.

So I ask - do we have the courage to be, not just Catholic, but fully Catholic in all the ways that shows itself? I think that in some areas that willingness is starting to peek out again. Jesus did not choose a half-measure or even a ninety-percent solution in our salvation - he emptied himself completely, draining himself to the last measure. Should that not be our guide in everything we do in worship and praise?