As we head into the stretch run of Sacrosanctum Concilium, let’s start the seventh chapter “SACRED ART AND SACRED FURNISHINGS”
Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of (human) genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of redounding to God’s praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning (human) minds devoutly toward God.
Note the differentiation between “religious” and “sacred” art.
Holy Mother Church has therefore always been the friend of the fine arts and has ever sought their noble help, with the special aim that all things set apart for use in divine worship should be truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of the supernatural world, and for this purpose she has trained artists. In fact, the Church has, with good reason, always reserved to herself the right to pass judgment upon the arts, deciding which of the works of artists are in accordance with faith, piety, and cherished traditional laws, and thereby fitted for sacred use.
Not any different from sacred music, really.
The Church has been particularly careful to see that sacred furnishings should worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship, and has admitted changes in materials, style, or ornamentation prompted by the progress of the technical arts with he passage of time.
These would be the altars, ambo, chair, font, tabernacles, etc.
Wherefore it has pleased the Fathers to issue the following decrees on these matters.
And we’ll get to these decrees in the next posts …