Why do we need beautiful churches?

I have often looked at my church and noticed the bare walls devoid of any scenes that could do homage to the glory of God. An artist with a traditional bent could do a miracle in the space as great as that of Michealangelo. Why must a Cathoic Church look like the denizens of Martin Luther or Oliver Cromwell have just come through and white washed the saints off the walls?


Why do we need beautiful churches?

The need to worship in a place of beauty and transcendence is as old as humanity itself, according to an excellent article from the NOR. To quote:

The anthropologist Mircea Eliade, in his Patterns of Comparative Religions (1958), documents the fact that ancient peoples in many parts of the world deemed places to be holy where some manifestation of the "holy" or "divine power" transforms a place into a sacred place with transcendent meaning. The places, whether mountains, hills, caves, rocks, groves, etc., then become broadly speaking "sacramental," visible signs of invisible realities. That God made use of man's need for such signs in his revelation to the people of the Old Covenant is clear in his singling out Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai for his theophanies to Moses, or from the Oaks of Mambre being sacred to Abraham, or the holy stone at Bethel being sacred to Jacob. But it is the tabernacle (or tent), and the Temple as its successor, which is the sacred place par excellence for the Israelites. Wandering Semitic tribes had portable tent shrines, and so God commanded the people "to build me a sanctuary so that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). The tent sheltered the Ark of the Covenant, which was important not so much for what it contained (manna, tablets of the Law, and the Urim. and Thummin) as for the Shekinah, the presence of God which hovered over the decorative cherubim which crowned the Ark. Thus the presence of God manifested by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night was "incarnated" in the portable ark which was enthroned in its own tent shrine when the pilgrim people came to rest and pitched camp. However, when the Israelites were established in the Promised Land and the Kingdom was firmly established, there was a desire to have a permanent Temple. King David wished to build it, but God made his contrary will known (2 Sm. 7:1-7) and David, who was considered a man of war, was passed over for his son, Solomon, whose name means "the peaceful king." To him is given the task of building a temple of three sections: the vestibule, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies with the Shekinah, presence of God. It will be added to later, but the precise architectural plan is less important than the place it held in Israel's heart and devotional life. The Temple became the religious center of Israel, the object of cult and devotion to devout Hebrews. There were pilgrimages to visit the Temple, and as the pilgrims neared the great edifice they sang the Gradual Psalms (120-134) or Songs of Ascent as they ascended Mount Zion where the Temple was. Some theorize that the whole Psalter was a collection of songs accompanying feasts celebrated in the Temple liturgy.

World War II memorial

From an original from Bayne Steele


Today I went to visit the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC I got an unexpected history lesson. Because I'm a baby boomer, I was one of the youngest in the crowd. Most were the age of my parents, Veterans of "the greatest war," with their families. It was a beautiful day, and people were smiling and happy to be there. Hundreds of us milled around the memorial, reading the inspiring words of Eisenhower and Truman that are engraved there.

On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Yesterday, December 7,
1941-- a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.

One elderly woman read the words aloud:

"With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph."

But as she read, she was suddenly turned angry. "Wait a minute," she said, "they left out the end of the quote.. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt ended the message with "so help us God."

Her husband said, "You are probably right. We're not supposed to say things like that now."

"I know I'm right," she insisted. "I remember the speech." The two looked dismayed, shook their heads sadly and walked away.

Listening to their conversation, I thought to myself, Well, it has been over 50 years she's probably forgotten"

But she had not forgotten. She was right.

I went home and pulled out the book my book club is reading --- "Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley. It's all about the battle at Iwo Jima .
I haven't gotten too far in the book. It's tough to read because it's a graphic description of the WW II battles in the Pacific.

But right there it was on page 58. Roosevelt's speech to the nation ends in "so help us God."

The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war.! But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on
their hearts.


Send this around to your friends. People need to know before everyone forgets. People today are trying to change the history of America by leaving God out of it, but the truth is, God has been a part of this nation, since the beginning. He still wants to be...and He always will be!


Ginger cheesecakes with yuzu glaze

I found this in a blog called Tartelettes. Being French, cooking, baking and eating is a cultural thing, or so I have found watching Ratatouille... "Of course the finest Chefs are French"... If you are hungry this will hurt you.

Looking at your comments I can tell that cheesecakes stimulate your appetites. I also feel the need to explain that I bake "constantly": sometimes for us or the neighbors, and a lot for special orders. I "rescued" the cheesecake in the picture from a larger order for a friend's dinner party with her in-laws. I bake at odd times, whenever I get the chance, and I have a whole shelf of the fridge reserved for prep work full batters, baked sheet cakes, genoises, dacquoise, egg whites, creams and all the tralalas...There is no telling when Old Chef is going to call me or when stangers email me for cakes. My job at the gym is only part time so I can keep practicing my first job. This said back to the cheesecakes...


Oh yes, Cecilia Bartoli, This is my favorite mezzo-soprano. God has gracedher with the voice of an angel. She has such manificent range, that the mention of her name calls to mind every aria I have ever heard her sing.

Born in Rome, Cecilia Bartoli received her voice training at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia whilst at the same time being taught and coached by her parents, Silvana Bazzoni and Angelo Bartoli, both professional singers.

Bartoli’s early career included collaborations with Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She has since worked with a host of other acclaimed conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, William Christie, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Adam Fischer, Christopher Hogwood, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Marc Minkowski, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Giuseppe Sinopoli and Sir Georg Solti...


You may see her perform on youtube.


16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne

Tea at Trianon has a redirect to the real cause of the end of the terror in France, the Martyrdom of the 16 Carmelites. What remarkable bravery they showed in the face of certain death. This is the definition of Moral Courage. That is standing up for the right even though it would be far easier to just give in.


Anti-Catholicism on the Internet

There are inmates at the prison where I work who have some really perverted ideas about what Catholicism is. Here is an article on the pervasive Anti-Catholicism. http://www.catholicleague.org/research/anticat_internet.htm