28/7/13 – Reflecting Who We Are As Church, in This Time and Place

Contemporary altar and ambo in the sanctuary of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Contemporary altar and ambo in the sanctuary of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

The Church has never remained a static, unchanging institution.  This has implications for our church buildings, which among other things, reflect the times and situations they have been built and shaped in.

The architectural styles of churches built over the centuries have changed extensively.  Church buildings have been decorated and appointed in many different ways, responding to the styles of both time and place.  Architectural and artistic styles also reflect our beliefs and theological understandings.

The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy speaks of the range of artistic styles used in the design and appointment of churches:

The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own; she has admitted styles from every period according to the natural talents and circumstances of peoples, and the needs of the various rites. Thus, in the course of the centuries, she has brought into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved. The art of our own days, coming from every race and region, shall also be given free scope in the Church, provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honour; thereby it is enabled to contribute its own voice to that wonderful chorus of praise in honour of the Catholic faith sung by great men in times gone by.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 123

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