Wood or Stone, Clutter or Plain?

PrayTell has been monitoring developments at a Houston parish, in 2015 here and a few days ago here.

The before picture on the 2015 link is illustrative. I noticed a few things in the redecoration: a shift from stone (maybe faux-mineral) to wood (maybe fabricated cellulose). Even the new altar presents as wood. I’m a strong advocate (as the Church is) of permanence of an altar in a main church. The mineral-to-plant switch seems to be a step down from permanent. But there’s no doubt the new furniture seems more warm and inviting. Cancelled out by the altar rail, but ah well.

The new plan appeals to those who prefer symmetry. The asymmetry of the before picture seems a problem more for being too cramped and cluttered: presider chair and tabernacle side-by-side, then ambo and the altar a little to the front.

Other aspects seem a bit fussy to me: the multiple candlesticks and the altar rail are a detraction from what seems to be a warmer presentation. They do continue the tradition of clutter in this parish’s church. I’ll admit that other things being equal, wood does it better for me than stone in most small places. It can speak of a certain intimacy.

All that said, the new paintings are the most delightful part of the redecoration. Here’s a link to the article cited at PrayTell.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Wood or Stone, Clutter or Plain?

  1. Devin Rice says:

    I prefer stone as well. I also agree with your assessment of the candlesticks and crucifix on the altar. It seems to be a poor compromise regarding the direction of the presider. As for the altar rail, I must admit that I do like as it sets the sanctuary off from the nave, but perhaps the opening to the nave could be a bit wider and the height of the rail just a tad shorter.

    I am curious how the Church would look if the main crucifix on the wall was also a painting in the same style as the two on the sides.

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