Varietates Legitimae 43: Art in Liturgy

VL gives one section to treat the visual arts:

43. The liturgical celebration is enriched by the presence of art, which helps the faithful to celebrate, meet God and pray. Art in the church, which is made up of all peoples and nations, should enjoy the freedom of expression as long as it enhances the beauty of the buildings and liturgical rites, investing them with the respect and honor which is their due. (cf SC 123-124, Canon 1216) The arts should also be truly significant in the life and tradition of the people.

The same applies to the shape, location and decoration of the altar, (cf old GIRM 259-270, canons 1235-1239, esp. 1236) the place for the proclamation of the word of God (cf old GIRM 272) and for baptism, (Cf. De Benedictionibus Ordo Benedictionis Baptisterii seu Fontis Baptismalis, 832-837) all the liturgical furnishings, vessels, vestments and colors. (cf old GIRM 287-310) Preference should be given to materials, forms and colors which are in use in the country.

Since it doesn’t directly engage the texts of the Church, it seems more leeway is given to the visual depiction of liturgy. “Seeing is believing” aside, we all know that sight touches more people than sound. Visual arts would seem to be as significant as any factor in the wise application of inculturation.

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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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