About this blogger:
Andrew Leung is a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. He has served as Director of Music at St. Pius X Church (Atlanta) and taught Gregorian chant at the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Georgia). For two years, he will be studying in Macau, China.
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“Catholics in America have been the heirs of a sentimental and subjective hymn tradition that, for some reason or other, has taken a deep and fast hold on the fancy of the average person.”
— Fr. Francis Brunner (1953)

Understanding the Sacred
published 10 December 2015 by Andrew Leung

CTL Understanding the Sacred 1 HE YEAR OF MERCY has officially begun this Tuesday on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. And there has been a few events happened in the Vatican this week. I am really troubled by two of those. Usually, I try to write positively and say nice things, but these two things really upset me. So, please forgive me for writing out my complains here.

A light show was held in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday night. Photographs were projected onto the façade and cupola of Saint Peter’s Basilica. These illuminations were supposed to present images inspired of mercy, of humanity, of the natural world, and of climate changes. The goal sounds pretty nice and cool, doesn’t it? I saw those images, they are really nice. But here is the problem: it is a sacrilege!

St. Peter’s Basilica is the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, a Papal Basilica that is blessed and consecrated to God. The church building itself is sacramental and sacred. It is also the tomb of St. Peter and many other saints and popes. And people used it as a projector screen. Just think about how ridiculous that is! Yes, those are nice pictures of God’s creatures, but those are also animals. We don’t bring animals to church! We human beings are designed in the image of God, with will and intellect, and we may choose to worship God. That is why we build churches, sacred and sacramental buildings, for the Liturgy. Churches are set apart from the rest of the buildings for us, human beings, to worship God and God alone. The reality is that these animals don’t belong there.

I also saw on the internet some pictures of similar projections on some other churches and cathedrals around the world. Most of them have protections of religious images. I am not sure what the goals are for those projections. Maybe they are using these images to decorate the outside of the church, or maybe the images will attract more people to the church. But I don’t think these goals can be an excuse of treating churches as projector screens. It’s not that hard to set up a screen outside the church. If they want to make the churches look nicer, why don’t they start building new churches that actually look beautiful. Maybe we can stop worshiping inside spaceships and rockets first!

Another danger of having these images projected to churches is that it will be impossible to control what will be projected in the future. Now people are projecting religious pictures and image or the nature, but who knows what kind of “arts” will be projected onto our churches in the future. This also leads to the second thing that troubles me.

CTL Understanding the Sacred 2 AM SURE that you have all seen the official logo for the Year of Mercy. If not, you can take a close look at it on my other post about the Year of Mercy. During the Opening Mass of the Jubilee Year, this image was printed on the Book of the Gospel and hung over the main door of St. Peter’s Basilica. This image borders me a lot and I am sure it borders many other people too. It is literally two men with three eyes. If you ask a young child what they see in the picture, they will probably give you that exact answer. The only “man” I know that has three eyes is a god from the Chinese legend. Why must artists design things that are weird and cannot be appreciated by everyone? Well, it’s sad that this picture has been chosen and we are going to see it hung around churches for the rest of the Jubilee Year.

Sacred Art and Sacred Music, like Sacred Architecture, should be holy; that is set apart from other art and music. Sacred Art and Sacred Music need to be objectively beautiful and universal, so that everyone can appreciate them; so that they can reflect the beauty and glory of God; and bring people closer to Him.

I think we, the Church, still have a long way to go in understanding the Sacred. But we must not loss hope and we must keep praying. I found this prayer online, not quite sure who wrote it, but it is perfect.

O Jesus, Thou the beauty art Of Angel worlds above! Thy Name is music to the heart, Enchanting it with love! Celestial sweetness unalloyed! Who eat Thee hunger still, Who drink of Thee still feel a void Which naught but Thou can fill! O my sweet Jesus! hear the sighs Which unto Thee I send! To Thee my inmost spirit cries, My being’s hope and end! Stay with us, Lord, and with Thy light Illume the soul’s abyss; Scatter the darkness of our night And fill the world with bliss. O Jesu! spotless Virgin flower! Our life and joy! to Thee Be praise, beatitude and power, Through all eternity! Amen.