Friday, May 21, 2010

Faith Facts Friday

I am venturing to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. today with some of the ladies from our Friday Bible Study. We are going to view and ponder the exhibit called "Sacred Made Real" -- it is a collection of Spanish sculpture and painting from the 17th Century.

In reading through some of the materials to prep for our visit, I was intrigued to read that the Spanish Church considered this "counter-Reformation" art. There was a sacred objective -- of course, there was, it's religious art -- beyond the standard of making beautiful images to assist in prayer. The Church was eager to encompass in a very realistic way, the beauty of those tenants of the Faith that were being rejected. In so doing, the art has a strikingly realistic quality.

With this in mind, I am going to offer three facts with regard to what the Church teaches about Sacred Art -- it's kind of the Dos and Don'ts of Sacred Art taken from the documents of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Consilium.


Ordinaries, by the encouragement and favor they show to art which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display. This principle is to apply also in the matter of sacred vestments and ornaments. (SC, 124)


Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense. (SC, 124)


The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained. Nevertheless their number should be moderate and their relative positions should reflect right order. For otherwise they may create confusion among the Christian people and foster devotion of doubtful orthodoxy. (SC, 125)

This is only a small portion of what is written in Sancrosanctum Consilium with regard to Sacred Art. Obviously, it is no small matter and the Church, from Biblical times to the present, has had a duty to maintain the beauty and integrity of Sacred Art and Images. They are meant to help us pray and to worship God.

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