Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Denis McNamara on Sacred Architecture, Part 10: The Documents of Vatican II

This is the tenth and concluding video of the series. Throughout, Prof. McNamara has been referring to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but in this he recaps and spells out the directives more clearly. He refers to the desirability of a “pious skepticism” towards innovation, an attitude that is open to change, but generally skeptical of it, and respectful of tradition. I think that this is the frame of mind which produces the “hermeneutic of continuity” that Benedict XVI referred to. Put simply, it says, don’t change anything unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

He then goes on to highlight what the Council did ask for in regard to art and architecture, which on the whole reinforces the principles of the desirability of noble and resplendent beauty. Then, in his understated and polite way, he concludes by saying that nobody should ever think that Vatican II ever meant anything other than what it actually said, just because it came at a time that was “unfriendly,” as he put it, to ornament, image and traditional architecture.

Denis McNamara is on the faculty of the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein; his book is Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy.

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