Vol. XVIII, No. 10
News and Views
Stroik: The Church Building as a Sacred Place | Pontifical Academy for Latin Established | Pope Benedict’s Infancy Narratives | New Resource for World Youth Day 2013 | Liturgy Conference in Ireland on Vatican II
How can we recover a sense of the sacred in liturgy and architecture? Noted architect Duncan Stroik, in his new book The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal, (192 pages. 2012. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications: ltp.org), answers these questions with wisdom gained from two decades of teaching, writing, and practicing architecture in service to the Church.
Stroik begins by reemphasizing the nature and purpose of the church building. He then considers how the classical tradition can inform contemporary churches, analyzes the impact Modernist philosophy has had on architecture, and concludes by looking forward to renaissance and renewal. He also gives principles of design, myths of contemporary sacred architecture, advice for priests, and analysis of the architectural ramifications of the theology of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
More than 170 photographs and drawings of exemplary historic and contemporary churches are included in this instruc- tive work, which will help priests, bishops, liturgical consultants, lay commissions, and parishioners understand the Church’s architectural tradition.
When asked about Stroik’s impact on Catholic church architecture, Denis R. McNamara, also a well-known architect, who teaches at Chicago’s Liturgical Institute, commented that the book “not only highlights the ideas and motivations behind today’s flowering of classical architecture, but also gives hope and inspiration for those ready to see new churches that can be handed on proudly to future generations who will thank us for giving them a place to worship which lifts up their hearts to God and teaches that it is right to give Him thanks and praise.”
It is “urgently necessary to support the commitment to a greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, both in the ecclesial context and in the broader world of culture,” Pope Benedict wrote in Latina Lingua, his November 10, 2012, apostolic letter establishing the Pontifical Academy for Latin.
The statutes say the aims of the academy are: “a) to encourage the knowledge and study of Latin — language and literature, classical and patristic, Medieval and humanistic — in particular at the Catholic institutions for formation at which both seminarians and priests are trained and taught; b) to promote the use of Latin in various contexts, both as a written and as a spoken language.”
The new academy will be overseen by the Pontifical Council for Culture, which is headed by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and will be guided by a president, secretary (both appointed by the pope), and an academic council of about 50 scholars. Professor Ivano Dionigi, of the University of Bologna, is president of the new Pontifical Latin Academy, and Salesian Father Roberto Spataro is its secretary.
In addition to conferences and seminars, the academy plans study congresses and exhibitions, as well as courses and training projects in coordination with the Pontifical Institute for Advanced Latin Studies. Pope Benedict expects the new academy to promote “the Latin language, a precious legacy of tradition and a privileged testimony of a cultural heritage, that must be handed down for generations to come,” as he said in an address to the assembled academies on November 21.
The beginning of this Year of Faith saw the release of the third and final volume of Pope Benedict XVI’s interpretation of the biblical history of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (179 pages. Image Books, a division of Random House). The first two books in the Jesus of Nazareth series are From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration and Holy Week (English versions of both published by Ignatius Press).
“I can at last consign to the reader the long promised little book on the narratives of Jesus’ childhood,” Pope Benedict says of the new book, “Here I have sought to interpret, in dialogue with exegetes of the past and of the present, what Matthew and Luke recount at the beginning of their Gospels about the infancy of Jesus.”
In his brief foreword to The Infancy Narratives, the pope explains his approach:
I am convinced that good exegesis involves two stages. Firstly, one has to ask what the respective authors intended to convey through text in their own day — the historical component of exegesis. But it is not sufficient to leave the text in the past and thus relegate it to history. The second question posed by good exegesis must be: Is what I read here true? Does it concern me? If so, how? With a text like the Bible, whose ultimate and fundamental author, according to our faith, is God himself, the question regarding the here and now of things past is undeniably included in the task of exegesis. The seriousness of the historical quest is in no way diminished by this: On the contrary, it is enhanced.
One example of the Holy Father’s insights is this description of the Nativity, explaining its connection with Jesus’ final moments on earth:
Mary wrapped the Child in swaddling clothes. Without yielding to sentimentality, we may imagine with what great love Mary approached her hour and prepared for the birth of her child. Iconographic tradition has theologically interpreted the manger and the swaddling clothes in terms of the theology of the Fathers. The Child stiffly wrapped in bandages is seen as prefiguring the hour of his death from the outset; he is a sacrificial victim…. The manger, then, was seen as a kind of altar.
Careful reading of all of these books would be especially appropriate during Lent in this Year of Faith.
The Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States have published a resource for World Youth Day 2013 titled “Go Make Disciples of All Nations” (Matthew 28:19).
The book is designed to help youth and young adults: 1. to prepare for WYD (“Go”); 2. to celebrate the day itself (“Make”); and 3. to continue the experience as missionary disciples after WYD 2013 comes to a close (“Disciples”).
Each of the book’s three sections integrates Scripture, Church teachings, stories from the saints, prayers, and small group and personal reflections. It is intended to be used both by those who attend the event and by those who do not, but wish to respond to Pope Benedict’s call to all young people. The pope’s complete message for WYD 2013 is included the book.
Contributors to the book include the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth; the Salesians of Don Bosco; and the Maryknoll Societies. To order: www.prop faith.net/wydrio2013.
The sixth Fota International Liturgy Conference will be held in Cork (Ireland) July 6-8, 2013. The theme of Fota VI is: Sacrosanctum Concilium 1963-2013.
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Fota VI, drawing on a panel of international experts, will examine the historical and theological background to the Constitution, re-present its vision of the liturgy, and assess the application of that vision over the past fifty years.
The conference is sponsored by the St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy. Further details will be released at a later date. (Contact Terry Pender: [email protected]).