Built of Living Stones 158-160: The Integration of Art Within the Liturgical Setting

We’re getting into a discussion of bishops ensuring a good relationship between artists and the demands of the liturgy.

§ 158 § The role of the Church is to educate artists in the appropriate relationships between their personal approach to art and the needs of the liturgy. The role of artists is to explore the powerful personal resonances that exist between sacred art, interior devotion, and the public life of the community. An essential ingredient for a successful marriage between the artistic needs of the Church and the creative talent of the artist is the ability to collaborate. Artists must cultivate the capacity to work with the leaders and people of the local community and within the frameworks established by the universal Church if they are to have the opportunity to use their talents to fashion beautiful objects that will enliven the worship of the community.

The bishops cite collaboration, and it is, of course, vital. Artists work with secular and liturgical specialists:

§ 159 § Artists who collaborate with architects and liturgical consultants need to make an honest assessment of several key elements, attending to the way the objects will be placed within the building, how the works will be integrated with the architecture of the church and with its local setting, and the ways the Christian community moves within its space.

Sensible advice on lighting, acoustics, cleaning, and other elements:

§ 160 § Attention should also be given to the way artistic objects influence acoustics and other functional elements within the building and, at the same time, to the ways in which various elements, especially lighting, may affect the objects. In addition, consideration must be given to how easily an object can be cleaned and maintained.

A good reminder that the best art doesn’t happen in isolation from other aspects, either liturgical or matters of the suyrrounding space. Art doesn’t get dropped in from heaven. All the time, anyway.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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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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