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Our readers asked:

Can you tell me some basics of Church Architecture?

Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:

The only thing I know for certain is that a rule of architecture says that “form follows function.” And therefore, we have a bit of a clash in post Vatican II Church Architecture.

We have older churches with high ceilings and long aisles with pews lined up in parallel rows. This emphasized the transcendent nature of worship and our relationship to God Almighty high above us.

Newer churches, with lower ceilings, often “in the round,” having people sit so they can see one another, emphasized the communal sense of worship and the community formed as we join around the table of the Lord.
The Eucharist is both meal and sacrifice. We have both a table and an altar. Church architecture reflects this breadth and width of liturgical meanings and functions.

The genius of Catholicism is our ability to hold things in creative tension, “both-and,” rather than succumbing to the temptation to give in to the ease of “either-or” ways of thinking about complex and paradoxical realities.

The Author : Richard G. Malloy, SJ
Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
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