Signs and Symbols #22

Signs and Symbols #22

Signs and symbols

1145 A sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols. In keeping with the divine pedagogy of salvation, their meaning is rooted in the work of creation and in human culture, specified by the events of the Old Covenant and fully revealed in the person and work of Christ.

1146 Signs of the human world. In human life, signs and symbols occupy an important place. As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for his relationship with God.

1147 God speaks to man through the visible creation. The material cosmos is so presented to man’s intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator.16 Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his nearness.

1148 Inasmuch as they are creatures, these perceptible realities can become means of expressing the action of God who sanctifies men, and the action of men who offer worship to God. The same is true of signs and symbols taken from the social life of man: washing and anointing, breaking bread and sharing the cup can express the sanctifying presence of God and man’s gratitude toward his Creator.

Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Light Symbolism in Church Architecture #11

Light Symbolism in Church Architecture #11

Pseudo-Dionysius asserted that all of creation is ordered in a hierarchy where the creation that possesses the most light is at the top. He said that creation is “an act of illumination” (674). Pseudo-Dionysius inspired the renovation plan of the Abbey of Saint-Denis’ chevet to be one that allows a lot of light to enter the abbey. Robert Grosseteste proposed that Aristotle’s concepts of matter and form were brought together in light. He claimed that form “is a perfect unity and is represented by the number one; matter by the number two; the accord of form and matter by the number three; the composite itself by the number four” (674). He said that from these numbers come proportions that bring harmony. “…man may then contemplate God through these harmonies” (674).

Floor Plan of The Abbey of Saint-Denis’ Chevet:

Image from Medieval Art from www2.oberlin.edu

Citation:

WALL, D. R., et al. “Church Architecture, History of.” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2003, pp. 669-718. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.aapld.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/CX3407702431/GVRL?u=algo36745&sid=GVRL&xid=4d3c5c37. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.

Number Symbolism in Church Architecture #10

Number Symbolism in Church Architecture #10

“In his De Musica, Augustine proposed that numerical ratios are but the echoes of the perfection of God. In music these ratios are audible; in architecture they are visible. The most admirable ratio is 1:1 since here the unity of relationship is equal and perfect; then came 1:2, 2:3, 3:4. Through the contemplation of the visible configurations of architecture, the mind is led to proportion, from proportion to number, and from number to the idea of God. This thesis of perfect ratio became the first purely mediate religious symbol in Western church architecture” (673).

The Renaissance focused on this symbolism and therefore rejected the previous basilica plan because it was mathematically and therefore architecturally imperfect. Instead, they preferred the “central plan” or circle plan “in which geometric pattern generates the form with all its parts; this provides a most lucid, absolute, and immutable architecture” (674). This architecture raises people’s thoughts to an “absolute” and “immutable” God (674). “For [L.B. Alberti, A. Palladio, and Serlio] the regulation of all parts of a church according to these ratios could manifest something of the nature of God” (674).

Citation:

WALL, D. R., et al. “Church Architecture, History of.” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2003, pp. 669-718. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.aapld.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/CX3407702431/GVRL?u=algo36745&sid=GVRL&xid=4d3c5c37. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.

Beauty #5

Beauty #5

“For beauty includes three conditions, ‘integrity’ or ‘perfection,’ since those things which are impaired are by the very fact ugly; due ‘proportion’ or ‘harmony’; and lastly, ‘brightness’ or ‘clarity,’ whence things are called beautiful which have a bright color.”

Thoughts: Art in churches represent God. They often contain images depicting God’s beauty and goodness. Because they reflect Truth, they are beautiful. Even things like ornate architecture are beautiful because they reflect perfection in craftsmanship and skill. Perfection reflects God so in this way even architecture is beautiful.

Excerpt from Summa Theologica, Part I, Question 39, Eighth Article, I answer that