Cathedral of Córdoba
St. Patrick’s Cathedral.. I’m not really sure how to explain my feelings. I very much wanted to go back. We spent a good couple of hours there and it still didn’t feel like enough time. The history, the enormity of the structure.. Always leaves me speechless….Written by Autumn while in Dublin
I know what she means.
I grew up in church. I attended a modest Protestant neighborhood congregation. The building’s architecture stemming from a 50’s style design. The wood cross at the front of the sanctuary gave focus and remembrance of why we were there. It was a church….a gathering place to fellowship with other members who were like family…and, a place of worship.
There’s something about a sanctuary. It calls us somehow. Many times, in the quiet following youth activities or choir practices during the week, I would sit in the stillness of that vast room.
I didn’t think about it much at the time…but…
…some years later my husband and I found ourselves seated on aged creaky wooden pews in a historic SE Portland church. A striking structure with castle-like exterior. Stained glass windows inserted around the rustic building brought colorful hues to the sanctuary inside. Those windows….
Gothic cathedrals of the past called these elaborate windows “Bible of the Poor”, because many of the poor could not read. The colors, pictures, symbols and lines had meaning and taught scripture through illustration. That architectural tradition was eventually carried here to America. I welcomed this symbolic beauty to my worship.
The significance of this structural art deepened in my spirit when upon entering the doors of the Cathedral of Córdoba. Since I’m from a Protestant background, I can count on one hand how often I’ve been in a Catholic church. The icons, paintings of historic and artistic story telling detail, go far beyond what I’ve seen in a typical non-Catholic church.
My daughter’s reaction, quoted above, is a beautiful response of a profound worshipful experience.
Art does that.
In my lifetime, I’ve observed a shift away from not only the elaborate structures, but also from actual church buildings in general. Non-denominational community churches more often are meeting in school gymnasiums, homes and coffee shops. Today, there is rare, and very little evidence of Christian symbols in these newer church gatherings. Therefore, leaving no sanctuary for quiet solitude, reflection or prayer.
What happened to that Bible of the poor assistance for the illiterate in Biblical knowledge and understanding? How are they to “see” stories displayed for their edification and teaching? We may notice a rustic wooden cross set in the dark background of an auditorium stage, or a candle lit next to the communion wine and bread.
As we see new cultures arriving in our borders, they also bring new religions. The implications are quickly growing as we observe the integration of these other religions which will confuse the truth of our already cracked foundation in Biblical teachings.
Recently, our own city’s public school administration has pulled school choirs from performing during the Christmas season at religious based institutions. It doesn’t matter if it is an open to the public of all faiths and background event. It’s the sanctuary they are banning. The stripping of our own cultural and religious art from the next generation is a travesty.
Art is worship.
Unbelievers should not be the ones who have the greatest art, and we shouldn’t be so pragmatic that we can’t take the time to say beautifully what ought to be said about the gospel. Art was once the prerogative of the church; four hundred years ago, only the church did art, by and large. ~ John Piper
How has art called you to worship? I invite you to share your experience in the comments.