For the activist Catholic Right, two consecutive bad words in the title of this section. It’s a reminder that God gathers a group of people, an assembly, and that God is unlimited by any human expectations. That said, church buildings exist as a witness. they are a sign to believers and non-believers alike. The GIRM states the importance of fostering the “gathered assembly” in baptismal unity (not uniformity):
§ 50 § The church building is a sign and reminder of the immanence and transcendence of God—who chose to dwell among us and whose presence cannot be contained or limited to any single place. Worship is the loving response of God’s People to the mystery of God who is with us and who is yet to come. “As visible constructions, churches are signs of the pilgrim church on earth; they are images that proclaim the heavenly Jerusalem, places in which are actualized the mystery of the communion between (people) and God.”(CDWDS, Circular Letter on Concerts in Churches 5) In addition, the church building manifests the baptismal unity of all who gather for the celebration of liturgy and “conveys the image of the gathered assembly.”(GIRM 294) While various places “express a hierarchical arrangement and the diversity of functions,” those places “should at the same time form a deep and organic unity, clearly expressive of the unity of the entire holy people.”(GIRM 294)
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.