Some of the most jarring evidence of internal unsettledness in the Church over the past century has been the drastic physical alteration of older church interiors, often to a point of becoming unrecognizable as what they once were. Such alterations were enforced based on the assumption that the buildings, along with the liturgy and other sacraments inside them, needed to cede to the thinking of the times in order to remain relevant with modern Catholics.Share
Had this been a truly successful endeavor—or even a correct initial assumption on which to base such an endeavor—we should be able to observe, after all these years, that the majority of lay people actually want their churches to look and feel like casual living rooms or concert halls. Yet, according to Fr. Jamie Hottovy of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, a growing body of evidence would seem to suggest exactly the opposite.
A priest with a background in architecture, Fr. Hottovy is part of a team that advises on church renovations throughout the diocese. He finds that more often than not, parishioners have not so much embraced modernism as tolerated it over the years because they’ve felt that they had no choice. “When they’re shown what their church could look like, the enthusiasm and response is amazing,” he says. “Every renovation has very intentional theological and symbolic weight to it, and people have been hungering for that.”
The point is not only to have a church that looks nice, but that communicates and teaches the truths of the faith to a world bombarded by competing messaging. “We live in the most visually stimulated culture the world has ever seen,” he says. “We as a Church have to have a valid and compelling visual language. To recapture that is needed now more than ever.” (Read more.)