I've seen plenty of good sacred art in a lot of places, and I've been places that have left me feeling empty. After my visit last week at the Hindu temple, I felt a little inspired to show what we have at home. For years I've been blessed to watch the art at my own parish grow, change, and sometimes be moved around here and there. Not that it has a life of its own, but sometimes we get a better idea of where to display it.
Because of the often stark representation, I feel that much of the art and architecture at my parish was born with Lent in mind. I'm including just a few photos on this post, but in the future I may add more to others.
There was a time in my life, in the past, which seems like another world now, in which art and architecture meant everything to me. As a younger man I spent a great deal of time painting before I found in myself an equally strong desire to capture images in photography. Although for many years the time and the desire to produce art faded. However, as I mature I do find it resurfacing. Art was always a big part of my worship life--both visual art and music.
In fact it was the art of the local parish--wherever I might have been at the time--and of the liturgy that were the big attractions for where I wanted to worship, and thus to some degree to my becoming Catholic also. However, at first I didn't find many Catholic parishes that were necessarily designed with beauty in mind. Rather some of my first experiences of the Church made it clear to me that things were made on a budget, and that beauty wasn't important. Sure, it's okay to be in a temporary building that is less than attractive, but after 20 years the building is no longer temporary.
Prior to converting, my exposure to visual sacred art was limited. After all, evangelicalism prides itself in what one might call an iconoclast revival. Nevertheless, I was keen on what those buildings looked like too. I had Pentecostal pastor warn me that outward beauty is sure to fade and reminded me that the tabernacle in the wilderness was--in his opinion--not a good looking thing to behold. He also said that the tabernacle in the wilderness served as a good analogy for the Pentecostal dress code.
Probably the greatest damage we as a people of faith can do to ourselves is to neglect sacred art, or to cut corners when it comes to the expressing ourselves spiritually in the created order. For me it doesn't matter so much whether it's a highly traditional expression of sacred art or a more contemporary expression, as is evident in my parish. The most important thing is to find the medium that reflects the beauty of worship and shows the hand of God in it.