“Let the Church be a House of Wonder” by Anthony Esolen in Crisis Magazine

This is a beautiful article. Please read the whole thing.

 

Only academics can think themselves into pretending to like verse without music, music without harmony, painting without skies or flowers or animals or people. Intellectuals are the original smashers of images. It was not quarry workers who demanded that their communion rails be knocked out with sledge hammers. It was not little children who pleaded with their pastors to cover paintings with whitewash. It was not housewives who demanded that the high altars with all their draperies and candelabra be replaced with tables so bare and spare that they would not do for an ordinary kitchen.

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3 Responses to “Let the Church be a House of Wonder” by Anthony Esolen in Crisis Magazine

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    From your quotation: It was not quarry workers who demanded that their communion rails be knocked out with sledge hammers. It was not little children who pleaded with their pastors to cover paintings with whitewash. It was not housewives who demanded that the high altars with all their draperies and candelabra be replaced with tables so bare and spare that they would not do for an ordinary kitchen.

    It was not academics who demanded any of this, either, nor was there anything in the directives on liturgical reform that required it. Rather, this is the fruit of poorly formed pastors who, in their ignorance, had no clue whatsoever what they were doing or what they should have done.

    To be fair, many of these pastors were not wholly culpable for their failings because they were the product of grossly deficient seminary formation and, in many cases, an utter absence of continuing formation after their ordinations. Oh the other hand, many of these pastors do bear culpability for their obstinate refusal to participate in training that was available, or even to read the directives with sufficient thoroughness to gain a real understanding, and their failure to consult competent experts regarding the manner of implementation of the reforms and the execution of renovations to suit the revised liturgical rites. And there are many parishes in my archdiocese in which I still see these glaring deficiencies.

    Norm.

    • John Walter S. says:

      “Liturgical Experts” who sincerely believed the reforms are in compliance with newly-discovered materials like the Didache, but failed to separate themselves from those who went with the zeitgeist.

      The damage was done. But we can’t pretend that it never happened.

  2. EPMS says:

    The history of taste is complex and making it into a contest between academics and the humble working class is suspect, especially when this thesis is being proposed by a university professor. In the case of a church which many worshippers may have attended since childhood, the issue is complicated by normal human nostalgia which often embraces the aesthetically indefensible simply because of its associations. I am sure many beautiful interiors were defaced by mindless alteration in the 60s, and I am sure a lot of inferior, mass-produced junk was also stripped away. As Norm points out, the success or failure of a renovation was ultimately an issue at the parish level.

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