Monday, December 14, 2009

St. Louis Bertrand Parish - Louisville, KY

My wife and I spent the weekend in Louisville, KY. On Sunday, we went to mass at the Dominican parish, St. Louis Bertrand. It is a beautiful, Gothic-style church with amazing woodwork in the sanctuary. The parish website has some pictures of the church. I have posted one of those pictures above, although it does not do the sanctuary justice. St. Louis Bertrand Church made me think about how the surroudings of our worship matter. I like both modern and past architectural styles. God did not ordain Gothic architecture as the truest expression of faith in form, although it is certainly an important one. What matters in our worship spaces are at least the following aspects: 1) does the building express important truths of our faith (transcendence and immanence, for example), 2) is beauty used to reflect and glorify God, and 3) does the physical building help us to worship and grow closer to God. Sometimes going to different parishes helps us to pay more attention to how the building helps us to build up our faith and increase our fervor for God. The building matters. However, in the most beautiful parish church, cathedral, or basilica, the beauty of that space is but a dim reflection of the center of that church, of the Church, Jesus in the Eucharist residing in the tabernacle.


the booklady said...

It does indeed look like a beautiful place to worship. Gothic is my favorite style of architecture, although I have found that when place or music or preaching or liturgical precision are not all that they should be, it can be an opportunity for our own prayer to rise to new heights. I come from a family of critics and therefore struggle with not being too judgemental all the time -- especially in areas of worship where all should be viewed with the eyes of love.

Pete Caccavari said...

I was recently at a local Franciscan friary. The chapel is from the late nineteenth century. In its original state, it was quite ornate. However, later it was whitewashed and made very unadorned, even stark. I found myself wondering what it looked like before, and yet, I tried to appreciate--especially from a Franciscan perspective--the emphasis on simplicity. It is interesting how sometimes ornamentation can be distracting from prayer, while at other times ornamentation enhances prayer. Sometimes simplicity can purify our prayer, and other times simplicity can leave us feeling aesthetically and spiritually flat. And, as you so rightly point out, Booklady, sometimes when we are not getting what we want from our surroundings during our prayer experience, that can be when we most look within to find the One we seek.