A beautiful Catholic Church speaks all these truths silently in stone. When we build temporary, secular looking structures we say exactly the opposite. When we build in cheap materials, cut corners, choose poor stuff, tacky figurines and go the way of plastic, mass produced fiberglass, then we are (often literally) building in wood, hay and stubble. Why are we surprised therefore, that our Catholics have a faith that is cheap, temporary, second rate and falling apart?
The last point is that a church is not just a meeting place. It is a house of prayer. It is a place that becomes hallowed with prayer. Therefore it must be a place that lifts the heart to prayer. The human heart is vulnerable to beauty. The beauty of worship and the beauty of a church building lifts even the hardest heart to prayer. In a beautiful church people’s hearts are opened. They stop and gaze and lift their eyes upward and as they do the fall to their knees, and even the most unlearned stumble and mumble the words their stuttering tongues seek to find: Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord God of Hosts.
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