Episode 6 – How the Liturgy Informs and Transforms the Culture

This week David talks to Charlie about how the liturgy and not socio-economic factors is the most powerful influence on the culture. And how it is the beauty of an authentic liturgical culture that is the driving force. 

We quote John Paul II from his encyclical Centesimus Annus

[...I]t is not possible to understand man on the basis of economics alone, nor to define him simply on the basis of class membership. Man is understood in a more complete way when he is situated within the sphere of culture through his language, history, and the position he takes towards the fundamental events of life, such as birth, love, work, and death. At the heart of every culture lies the attitude man takes to the greatest mystery: the mystery of God. Different cultures are basically different ways of facing the question of the meaning of personal existence. When this question is eliminated, the culture and moral life of nations are corrupted.

, and Pope Pius XII who wrote the encyclical Mediator Dei on the liturgy, and included reference to sacred art. We refer to the following passage:

"195. What We have said about music, applies to the other fine arts, especially to architecture, sculpture and painting. Recent works of art which lend themselves to the materials of modern composition, should not be universally despised and rejected through prejudice. Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive "symbolism," and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist. Thus modern art will be able to join its voice to that wonderful choir of praise to which have contributed, in honor of the Catholic faith, the greatest artists throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, in keeping with the duty of Our office, We cannot help deploring and condemning those works of art, recently introduced by some, which seem to be a distortion and perversion of true art and which at times openly shock Christian taste, modesty and devotion, and shamefully offend the true religious sense. These must be entirely excluded and banished from our churches, like "anything else that is not in keeping with the sanctity of the place."

And consider the following pictures. From the Baroque period of the 17th century:

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St Jerome Reading by Georges De La Tours, French 17th century

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A portrait painted by St Anthony Van Dyck when a teenager and a student of Rubens. Flemish, 17th century.

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Landscape by Corot, French, 19th century

And we consider the following buildings in our discussion of the Victorian Neo-Gothic

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St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, designed by AW Pugin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, england, 19th century.

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St Mary's Newcastle-upon-Tyne, interior.

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The Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool, England, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert-Scott, begun early 20th century, completed 1978.

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Paddy's Wigwam - the Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool, start and completed in the 1960s.

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The K-2 telephone box, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, with Queen Elizabeth Tower housing Big Ben, in the background, designed by AW Pugin.

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Street furniture that is derived from and points to the liturgical culture. Icons of the English landscape - the red letter box and the red phone box.