February 11, 2008

An “art and environment” fad for Lent: trashing up the inside of the church

The tradition and the directive of the Church has always been that we remove seasonal decorations and flowers from the church during Lent, stripping things down to the furniture, and the few linens required to cover the altar for Mass. Everything necessary for the liturgical rites is retained.

However, some years ago, some bright soul, with some helpers, it seems, decided to “make a decorative statement” during Lent. They brought in broken pottery, dead branches, sometimes rocks, and sand. A fad was born! Copycats are everywhere! Now there are more “items” in Catholic sanctuaries during Lent than for the Sundays of Ordinary Time.

I'd guess that many of these wannabe faddists waste church funds by buying unglazed clays pots and breaking them to get the look they want.

Last year, during Lent, I visited the cathedral of Los Angeles. In the entry hall of the cathedral, someone had put together an arrangement of very large broken clay pots and dead branches.

As I passed the arrangement, I noticed a small group of tourists examining the arrangement, and I heard one of them say:

“I wonder what might be the statement behind this display of garden trash.”

I don't know.
It definitely isn't letting the liturgical rite speak for itself.
it's superimposing someone's ideology,
someone's "trash talk."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much for Lent being the spiritual "spring-cleaning" needed by all (buildings included). Has anyone else seen the fad of having bowls of rice setting around the church(for the Rice Bowl collection, I suppose)? Along with the other yard waste strewn about, I'm just waiting for an infestation of ground squirrels!

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann, Singin Mum said...

Father, you are so right about this. Did you perchance see the starched purple ribbon curled on either side of the old altar at Founders' Chapel? Choir members thought it looked like a cosmic tumbleweed. hee hee.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Mary Ann,

Tumbleweed? The regularity of the curls were more like coiled barbed wire.

Did you notice that the university president merely bowed in the direction of altar and tabernacle, while both the Cardinal and the Bishop genuflected?

9:26 AM  

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