Architectural Revival – Return to Tradition

Architectural Revival – places of the past

Architectural Revival shares this and comments,

We live in an age where the most beautiful places are those which show the least evidence of our time.

The buildings of the present cannot rival the beauty of our ancestors. We must revive those traditions which have proved to serve us so well down the centuries.

I concur. Sadly, with the critique, and enthusiastically, with the prescription!

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Here’s my video on Medieval churches – The English Eccentric

A young English girl posts, as she says, “A Very Short Intro to Churches” – medieval English parish churches, specifically. This is by no means a professionally-done video; it’s a bit choppy, and the sound is often hard to hear. But it is – in my opinion – precisely its “amateur” (remember, the word means “one who loves”) nature that gives it its charm. It is a short video shot by a young, local girl who is trying to introduce others to something which is of great value to her, and lead them to love it, too: the tradition of medieval English parish church architecture.

In her words:

Here’s my video on Medieval churches. Apologies for the low production quality and the fact that I glossed over a whole load of info, but it was for the sake of brevity. Now find your local historic church, think of the countless generations who built it and worshipped there, and do the damn best you can to preserve it.

Kudos to her, and may God bless her!

Glories of the West: Build for forever | YouTube

When we build, let it not be for our time but for all time. Real architecture stands the test of time, aesthetically and physically.

Source: Build Forever – Architectural Revival | YouTube

“Classical architecture is fundamentally respectful of Tradition; it’s fundamentally respectful of the order of Nature as revealing the mind of God… Certain proportions are harmonic; certain ways of bringing things together are ordered and perfected and radiant, and they ring true to the eye [just as certain musical structures and harmonies ring true to the ear]. So Classicism is basically [a way of creating] architecture that is about the noblest and highest achievements humanity can [attain]. What is the most poetic, most harmonious, most ordered way to do architecture? How can it restore order to the world? So, Classicism is not a style – primarily, although there are stylistic components to it. It is a way of imitating the mind of God in architecture.”

— Dennis R. McNamara, “Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy

Build Forever | Architectural Revival

When we build, let it not be for our time but all time.

Let it be such a work that our descendants will thank us.

Build Forever.

Source: Build Forever – YouTube

As a Christian and a Christian cleric, of course I understand that nothing human can ever be “forever.” But that does not relieve us from the vocation, indeed the duty, to build, to create, for the ages – so that future generations will look upon our works with awe, with wonder, and with gratitude – and not merely for the present, or for present whims and fashions.

What Catholics Lost When They Started Tearing Down Their Great Altars

If the grand altars are at their core outward signs of inward devotion, what does it say about plain altars that more resemble a table than a temple?

Source: What Catholics Lost When They Started Tearing Down Their Great Altars

I am an Anglican, and a member of a fairly “low-church” continuing (traditional) Anglican jurisdiction. But I find a lot to agree with in this essay! Christianity is an Incarnational (and therefore embodied) religion. Therefore, aesthetics – and the incorporation (there’s that body thing again… corpus) of all the senses and the whole physical person, not just the mind, heart, and spirit, into the liturgy – matter.

Get too simplistic, too “Protestant,” and you are beginning to get too close to a form of quasi-Gnostic devaluation of the physical, the material, in favor of the spiritual and intellectual.

And that can lead to a devaluation – however unintentional and subconscious – not only of God’s proclamation that the things He created are good (however marred by human sin), but of the Incarnation itself, in which Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of the Father, indissolubly joined Himself to matter in His own person.

Sure, it’s possible to get too gaudy, and too focused on the external (material) elements of the faith. I am very well aware of that. As in most other areas of life, a balance is called for. But we should never forget the definition of a sacrament: an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Without the outward and visible, are we losing important markers pointing toward the inward and spiritual?

Our Lord Jesus Christ was unique in being fully God and fully Man. But we humans, made in the image of God, comprise a spiritual nature which is nonetheless incarnate (the word means “enfleshed”) in a physical, sensory body, living in a physical, sensory world. We neglect either of these aspects, the physical or the spiritual, at our peril.

The design of churches is one – only one, but an important one – aspect of this. As this essay points out,

The physical design of old churches was meant to dictate several things: ornate artwork on the walls, domes, and arches was meant to pull the eye upward and spark meditation on the divine mysteries, the altarpiece was placed in the apse to orient the congregation properly, and incense was meant to draw together and sanctify the individual properties into one event. That sort of order and hierarchy has been misplaced and is often focused inward, not upward… it is important to remember that how a building is designed is integral to its function.

And the function of a church building is, or should be, to orient the congregation toward God. Not toward itself (or ourselves), not toward the priest: toward God. And the design of the building, including any artistic elaborations – and of course, the liturgy itself – should lead the eyes, the other senses, and through them, the heart, mind, and spirit of the worshipers, God-ward. If that is not happening, something is missing.

And all too often, in today’s churches, it seems that something is indeed missing.

That is not to say that magnificent, ornate altars are guaranteed to focus the attention and lift the spirit of worshipers toward God, or that simple, plain ones cannot do the same. And the same is true of church interiors generally. But generally speaking, we devote time, attention, energy, and yes, money on what is important to us. That is simple human nature.

So, where is our focus? What does the construction of our churches – and of our liturgies – tell us about that focus? I can’t begin to provide a definitive answer to that question; it varies with each church, each congregation, each minister. But it’s something worth thinking about!

Castle Combe: a picturesque medieval village in England and one of the loveliest in the country

Oh boy, do we love medieval villages which look like they’ve been taken out of a fairy tale! … Castle Combe, a civil parish [in the Cotswolds], and a tiny village with a population of about 350, is considered as one the most photographed places in England, and we totally understand why.

Source: Castle Combe: a picturesque medieval village in England and one of the loveliest in the country

An example of what we could lose. Can you imagine this place overrun with third-world immigrants and their descendants…? Europe, defend yourself!