Lines of Sight

Father Mike Fones has a delightful reflection on the LA Cathedral at Intentional Disciples. Especially striking for him were the tapestries of the Communion of Saints. It made me wonder if, once people have finished bashing other parishes for self-worship, they happily seat themselves at their churches and allow the saints to worship them?

I would have thought the lack of direct eye contact from them would have made them seem somehow detached from us. But these saints, blesseds, and anonymous holy people are so beautiful, I cried, and at first I couldn’t imagine why.

Was it an accident? Not according to the cathedral website:

All the figures direct our eyes to the light of the great Cross-window above the Altar where the Eucharist is celebrated.

But let’s take some perspective. Traditionalist Catholics should no more start replacing their windows and statuary than other Catholics need to tear pages out of hymnals. But it should give anyone pause before drumming up the tired accusations of self-worship.

Ask any saint, living or dead, what they would prefer: a focus on the altar in a place of worship, or a kindly gaze on those Christians who really know how to love one another?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Lines of Sight

  1. Jeff Pinyan says:

    That is quite a brilliant design.

  2. Gavin says:

    Ask any saint, living or dead, what they would prefer: a focus on the altar in a place of worship, or a kindly gaze on those Christians who really know how to love one another?

    So what’s the correct answer on this one? I’d answer a focus on the altar; I too find that painting very moving, and it moves you in the right direction. Still, you did use more modifiers on the second one.

    I’ve never thought of traditional statuary and such as having an “inward” focus, but you may have a point. I suppose that’s why I find icons so much more stimulating – they truly serve as a window, rather than placing the focus here or there.

  3. Clavem Abyssi says:

    I had the same reaction to those tapestries and it really caught me off guard. Especially the younger nameless people scattered amongst the more well-known people. I thought “How lucky I am to be part of this family!”

    I was also a little overpowered by the sheer diversity of saints throughout the ages. Traditional iconography downplays this and tends to make everyone look the same, making Augustine and Maximilian Kolbe look the same, except for some telltale signs like eyeglasses. It hits you pretty hard when you see John the Baptist, the Korean martyrs and John XXIII realistically portrayed and standing next to one another.

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