Sunday, July 10, 2005

Compendium Images

"ROMA, July 5, 2005 – There is an unexpected novelty in the new "Compendium" of the catechism of the Catholic Church presented by Benedict XVI on June 28. It features prominently, in full color, fourteen sacred images. As the pope has explained, the images are not there purely for the sake of illustration. They are an integral part of the new catechism. They are to be reproduced in all the translations of the "Compendium." And each time they are to be placed in the same position with respect to the text. Each of the images is accompanied by a detailed commentary, with extensive citations from the Bible and the Fathers of the Church."

I found this intersting. I can't stand the illistrations in my breviary- red white a black, and to me they look like a poor linocut.

Within the Compendium are fourteen colored sacred images, and are to be "reproduced in all the translations." Pictures really do say more than a page of black and white. "A picture is worth 1000 words," and even moreso for the person who cannot read- or at least does not enjoy doing so.

It is one thing to read about how the mass should be celebrated, or the laity should act, etc, etc, but to have pictures which show the reverence and awe accorded to God; these help to make what is written, or what is read much more real; especially if you do not have a reverent atmosphere at your parish.

I haven't seen much religious artwork produced during my lifetime. I know of only one artist whom I like, and only her Mary paintings. I would like to see some religious artwork done in a contemproary design; what happened to our history? There are the great murals and icons of the catacomes, the High Middle Age, the Rennissance, Baroque period..and then it just ends. I see barren Churches, churches I would think to be protestant were it not for the crucifix and tabernacle- and even these they must put into law so that all churches will have them! Those that are on the barren side (meaning crucifix, no tabernacle, or only those two) often have these felt..things... hanging beside them. Why? Go to an eastern church, in communion or not, and look at all the beautiful iconography. Sometimes the mind does wander during mass, and what better to bring you back and keep your focus on Christ, then these stunning depictions of his life? I've been to two churches which were obviously Catholic once you were inside. One was very cluttered, and one very elegant. They were both full of icons, paintings, statues, and just everything! Both churches, the one that had some arrangement to its collection, and the one without, brought about a vivid sense of the reverence the artist had for the focus of his work. You knew what that church was for; it was for worship of God. It wasn't for Lifeteen parties (don't ask), it wasn't for shouting to your friends across the nave, and it wasn't for running about like a chicken that lost its head. Even the young children behaved quite well- they were not bored during mass as children often seem to be- they only had but to look at the walls or the ceiling to be brought back to Christ and to the mass. I love artwork, and especially good artwork.

And that is what the required 14 images made me think of. Even though some things may sound boring and legalistic in writing, merely looking at these images gives one thoughts and ideas to meditate on, more to think about and learn.


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