Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Via Pulchritudinis--Sacred Spaces

~from Sacred Architecture. When Bishop Carlson was Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls he set about restoring the Chapel of Sacred Heart of the Cathedral of St. Joseph. The restoration has been completed. While the work was progressing, he spoke about sacred art and the way of beauty in this 2005 issue of Sacred Architecture. At the end of the citation, I've posted pictures of the Chapel as it looks now, where the Old Mass is celebrated weekly.
“We live by our senses,” he notes, “and therefore good art is necessary and is to be encouraged. So much art and history was erased in the last forty years in an attempt to relate to the modern age.”

The chapel is accessed from the rear of the cathedral. It is in use continually as is the perpetual adoration custom. The site of the old sacristy is especially fitting given its stained glass windows and positioning away from traffic and the nearby school. Upon opening the door from the corridor that also leads to the cathedral, one enters into a small space where two confessionals are also located. Upon entering the chapel proper, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the front and the impressive 21-foot mural created by Leonard Porter showing Christ revealing his Sacred Heart in the presence of the saints and angels. These saints and angels are depicted harmoniously where one’s eye can move from the foreground to the distant horizon. Saints known for their devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart are found on the right and left panels. The centerpiece is Christ himself, sitting enthroned upon the tabernacle and surrounded by scriptural saints. This mural is behind an altar upon which rests the monstrance for perpetual adoration. Above the altar is found a columned covering similar to a baldachino with hanging lamps across its front. The bishop’s quote that “Jesus is present and teaches us in the lives of the saints” is certainly true in this fine depiction and in this chapel.

Participants sit in pews arranged in traditional fashion, with kneelers. On the left side of the chapel are found seven icons representing the four evangelists and the three archangels, the creations of Fedor Streltsov, a Russian iconographer. On the right is an icon of the Blessed Virgin with child. A bronze ambo of an eagle with outstretched wings is a notable addition to the liturgical appointments. Overwhelmed by the spirituality of the place, one may fail to notice until last the magnificent Italian marble flooring throughout that gives the entire space dignity and brightness.

Bishop Carson delights in the fact that spiritual benefits have already been received since the commission. He tells of the conversions that have occurred with direct relation to perpetual adoration at the chapel. Although he admits that it is not always easy for those with busy lives to commit to hours of prayer in the chapel, scheduling has been successful, someone is always there, and the bishop himself takes his turn. He is positive that even more benefits will occur in his diocese. Perhaps what is also a factor is that there is a true sense of connectedness to be found here. These are the signs and symbols that are often missing in that secular world and in the secularized church building that keeps us on the horizontal plane. The living, breathing human being yearns for the sacred! We yearn for some connectedness that goes beyond the secular. This place can indeed lift people up in spiritual ways with the support of the saints that are remembered and depicted. Artists and architects have made these projects a reality and should well receive the support and patronage of the Church.

Bishop Carlson said it well as he contributed to the exposition entitled The Treasure of the Cathedrals: “The great artists of old knew that they were created in the image of God. They shared that similarity with early Christian artists. Their works show that they saw before them the face of Christ and it is their faith that rendered their works timeless and still powerful today.” Is not that same face here for us to see today when encouraged and brought out powerfully by such patronage of sacred art? As more patrons like this bishop make the attempt, and perhaps a leap of faith, so will this age and its art be connected with all that has been.
Read the complete article

Explore the website of The Traditional Latin Mass Community of Sioux Falls, SD

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