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Reflections: Church Talk Sctn. (Bty./Decrm.)

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'Church Talk' Section:

Beauty & Decorum in the House of God

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Beauty & Decorum in the House of God



Beauty & Decorum in the House of God

Also See: Modesty / Immodest Dress

"Urge them to...greatly love the beauty of God's house" (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846)

"[Y]ou should undoubtedly always give special attention to the beauty of the house of God and the splendor and dignity of objects dedicated to the divine service. Such beauty and splendor often greatly inspire the faithful, and draw them to the veneration of sacred realities." (Pope Pius VI, "Inscrutabile", 1775)

"Can. 1178 Let all those who see to such things take care that cleanliness, as befits the house of God, is observed in churches; let there be restrained from them business and transactions, even if they have a pious purpose [as well as] generally anything that ill becomes the holiness of the place." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1210 In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1220 §1 Those responsible are to ensure that there is in churches such cleanliness and ornamentation as befits the house of God, and that anything which is discordant with the sacred character of the place is excluded. §2 Ordinary care for preservation and appropriate means of security are to be employed to safeguard sacred and precious goods." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[A] provident and enlightened care is to be taken, that in the house of the Lord there be nothing disorderly, nothing unseemly" (Council of Trent, Twenty-Fourth Session)

"Lord our God, save your people, and bless your inheritance; guard the fullness of your Church: hallow them that love the beauty of your house. Glorify them in recompense with your divine power: and forsake not them that put their trust in you." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"In fine, let so great care and diligence be used herein by bishops, as that there be nothing seen that is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly arranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, seeing that holiness becometh the house of God." (Council of Trent, Twenty-fifth Session)

"The house of prayer in which the Most Holy Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where the faithful gather and where the presence of the Son of God, Our Savior, offered for us on the altar of sacrifice bestows strength and blessings on the faithful, must be spotless and suitable for prayer and sacred functions." (Second Vatican Council)

"We command also that the aforesaid churches, vessels, corporals, and vestments be kept clean and bright. For it is absurd to tolerate in sacred things a filthiness that is unbecoming even in profane [that is, secular] things." (Fourth Lateran Council)

"Let no one approach this holy Table without reverent devotion and fervent love, without true penitence, or without recalling the mystery of his redemption." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"When we approach the altar we must, with God's help, prepare ourselves with all our power, and search into every corner of our souls, lest any sin be hidden therein." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Go to your adoration as one would go to Heaven, to the divine banquet." (St. Peter Julian Eymard)

"But, assuredly, all of the duties which man has to fulfill, that without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest which commands him to worship God with devotion and piety." (Pope Leo XIII)

"When you hear Mass, do you come in the same frame of mind as the Blessed Virgin at Calvary? Because it is the same God, and the same Sacrifice." (St. John Vianney)

"When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Now the exhortation of the Apostle, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,' requires that all Christians should possess, as far as is humanly possible, the same dispositions as those which the divine Redeemer had when He offered Himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they should in a humble attitude of mind, pay adoration, honor, praise and thanksgiving to the supreme majesty of God." (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei)

"All the faithful should be aware that to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest" (Pope Pius XII)

"[I]t is necessary that the spirit of the sacred liturgy and its directives should exercise such a salutary influence on them that nothing improper be introduced nor anything unworthy of the dignity of the house of God or detrimental to the sacred functions or opposed to solid piety." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"A person who is about to make a request to a secular prince takes pains to compose himself and his words by decent dress, becoming gesture, regulated speech and close attention of mind. How much more careful ought he to be in all these things when he is about to pray to almighty God in a sacred place!" (Council of Basel)

"Three characteristics of which Our predecessor [St.] Pius X spoke should adorn all liturgical services: sacredness, which abhors any profane influence; nobility, which true and genuine arts should serve and foster; and universality, which, while safeguarding local and legitimate custom, reveals the Catholic unity of the Church." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"Filled as We are with a most ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font" (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1904)

"This holy synod forbids chapters and other meetings of canons to be held, or chapter business to be transacted, at the same time as the principal Mass, especially on solemn feasts, unless an urgent and manifest necessity suddenly occurs." (Council of Basel)

"We desire to commend and urge the adornment of churches and altars. Let each one feel moved by the inspired word, 'the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up'; and strive as much as in him lies that everything in the church, including vestments and liturgical furnishings, even though not rich nor lavish, be perfectly clean and appropriate, since all is consecrated to the Divine Majesty." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947) 

"Among the cares of the pastoral office, not only of this Supreme Chair, which We, though unworthy, occupy through the inscrutable dispositions of Providence, but of every local church, a leading one is without question that of maintaining and promoting the decorum of the House of God in which the august mysteries of religion are celebrated, and where the Christian people assemble to receive the grace of the Sacraments, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, to adore the most august Sacrament of the Lord's Body and to unite in the common prayer of the Church in the public and solemn liturgical offices. Nothing should have place, therefore, in the temple calculated to disturb or even merely to diminish the piety and devotion of the faithful, nothing that may give reasonable cause for disgust or scandal, nothing, above all, which directly offends the decorum and sanctity of the sacred functions and is thus unworthy of the House of Prayer and of the Majesty of God." (Pope St. Pius X, "Inter Sollicitudines", 1903)

"In some churches, during certain celebrations of the year, there are carried on various scandalous practices. Some people with mitre, crozier and pontifical vestments give blessings after the manner of bishops. Others are robed like kings and dukes; in some regions this is called the feast of fools or innocents, or of children. Some put on masked and theatrical comedies, others organize dances for men and women, attracting people to amusement and buffoonery. Others prepare meals and banquets there. This holy synod detests these abuses. It forbids ordinaries as well as deans and rectors of churches, under pain of being deprived of all ecclesiastical revenues for three months, to allow these and similar frivolities, or even markets and fairs, in churches, which ought to be houses of prayer, or even in cemeteries. They are to punish transgressors by ecclesiastical censures and other remedies of the law. The holy synod decrees that all customs, statutes and privileges which do not accord with these decrees, unless they add greater penalties, are null." (Council of Basel)

"Holiness befits the house of the Lord; it is fitting that he whose abode has been established in peace should be worshipped in peace and with due reverence. Churches, then, should be entered humbly and devoutly; behavior inside should be calm, pleasing to God, bringing peace to the beholders, a source not only of instruction but of mental refreshment. Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name with is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head. In churches the sacred solemnities should possess the whole heart and mind; the whole attention should be given to prayer. Here where it is proper to offer heavenly desires with peace and calm, let nobody arouse rebellion, provoke clamour or be guilty of violence. The consultations of universities and of any associations whatever must cease to be held in churches, so also must public speeches and parliaments. Idle and, even more, foul and profane talk must stop; chatter in all its forms must cease. Everything, in short, that may disturb divine worship or offend the eyes of the divine majesty should be absolutely foreign to churches, lest where pardon should be asked for our sins, occasion is given for sin, or sin is found to be committed." (Second Council of Lyons) 

Also See: Sacred Art / Images | Sacred Furnishings | Sacred Music | Silence in Church | Kneeling / Prostrating / Bowing / Genuflecting | Proper / Improper Church Attire | Reverence | Against Applause / Noise in Church | Sacred Vessels Not To Be Touched by Laity | Sacred Things Not to be Put to Repugnant / Inappropriate Uses | Against Reducing to Antiquity | Notorious Public Criminals Not to Serve at Altar / Assist at Services | Denial of Eucharist to Public Sinners | Places Under Church Not to Be Put to Secular Use / No Opening to House of Laity | All Laity Forbidden to Preach in Church | Loss of Dedication / Consecration / Blessing | Altars | The Tabernacle | Goodness / Beauty | Holiness Over Beauty | Desirable that Men & Women be Separated in Church | "Our Responsibilities in God's House" (Flier / Resources) | Bowing Down (Topical Scripture) | Reverence (Topical Scripture) | Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Catholic News Links / Current Issues

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