“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).
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.
“The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: [^234] i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.”
Thoughts Inspired from Text: Since man is a “unity of soul and body”, What happens to the soul affects the body and vice versa. Because of this connection, the body affects the spiritual life, or life of the soul. Therefore, in order to move forward in spiritual life, one has to physically do things so that their bodies, not just their souls, are focused on God. Having beautiful churches helps us in this regard. The churches, in their architecture and art, give our bodies something to look at and focus on so our entire being is focused on God. Therefore, in order to help people advance in their spiritual lives, we need beautiful churches.
Excerpt from “BODY AND SOUL BUT TRULY ONE” from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
“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
Because creation is beautiful, we know that the Being who created it must be beautiful as well. And not only this, but He is perfection of beauty, for to be able to create something, the Creator must be greater than His creation. There must be something or Someone that is the epitome of beauty in order for the lesser existence of beauty in the world.
Thoughts inspired by reading: Because God is beauty and God created living creatures and beautiful things, God is in beautiful things, for when you create something, part of who you are is echoed and a part of that created thing. You cannot make something that does not in some way reflect who you are. Therefore, beautiful art in churches and beautiful churches themselves have God in them to a certain degree.
Article from The beauty of the unchangeable creator is to be inferred from the beauty of the changeable creation
Exodus Chapters 25-26
These chapters detail the specifications God gave to Moses in order to build, “…a sanctuary for [God], that [He] may dwell in [the Israelites’] midst.” Among the things God told them to use was gold, gems, and elaborately embroidered fabric. This sanctuary was the Ark of the Covenant.
This is evidence that God approves of us using very expensive items to build sanctuaries for Him. A Church is a sanctuary, so this excerpt supports that God has approved of using money to make a beautiful church in some cases.
Citation: The New American Bible. Revised ed., Confraternity of Christian Doctorine, Inc., 2010.