Considering Sacred Architecture

Here is another lecture from Duncan Stroik. Most people are not going to find a lecture on sacred architecture to be all that interesting, but I find this fascinating. In fact, I think it is quite important.

I’m not going to say much here about church architecture, but it’s clear that many, perhaps most, of our churches today do not serve us in the way God designed us to be served. We do not generally build sacred spaces anymore — except maybe in sports stadiums and museums. Too many Catholic churches today, those built over that last 50-75 years or less, have designs that seem to be based on assumptions (if anyone assumes at all) that the space will be made sacred by the Real Presence and a few common Catholics items, and thus we don’t need to have architecture that reaches towards Heaven. In one sense it’s true that we don’t need church buildings to point us to Heaven, or at least it’s logical, but in practice there is often a corresponding denial of the more mysterious aspects and needs of our humanity in our church designs.

I wonder what cultural forces have shaped our world such that many Catholics see no problems with, and even love, lousy church architecture. Perhaps we have lost the understanding of what a sacred space truly is, and that, I suppose, only comes about because we have lost the understanding of what a human being is — a sad thing indeed, especially for Catholics.

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