Liturgy for the human family

Publish date 24-08-2020

by Flaminia Morandi

Why are modern churches so ugly? Why is it difficult to pray in a dark and dreary 1950s church, but also in a Baroque church full of gold, stucco, and crowded frescoes? And again: shouldn't the church building, upon entering, suggest what liturgical worship wants to communicate?
St. John Damascus in the eighth century suggested: "If a pagan comes and says to you: Show me your faith! ... take him to church ...". To what church could we take someone today who would ask us the same thing? To San Pietro?

To show him the triumphalism of power, the waste of money extorted with the deception of indulgences from the people of God, the bronze stolen from Roman temples, the walls wet with the blood of the wars of religion and the division among Christians, despite the colonnade insists over the centuries to try to embrace all of humanity? Wouldn't we rather take it to a small country parish church or an ancient church like Santa Maria in Cappella in Rome or San Vitale and Agricola in the Santo Stefano complex in Bologna? Because? Perhaps because there it is more likely that one tastes something ineffable that makes one soften and desires peace, which one feels present among those damp walls? Why so many questions on an apparently simple and concrete subject such as building a church?

Perhaps because there is only one possible answer: because the world we live in has become totally incapable of any real communication with the divine, of any real transformation and transfiguration. Because perhaps the liturgy itself needs to rediscover its true meaning, indeed, its true power, the power of transformation of the human into the divine, says Alexander Schmemann. But if the liturgy has nothing to say in this field, then it is as it is in the world in which we live immersed, indeed it becomes the best ally of secularism, that is simply a rite of religion and not of faith, a way like any other to feel good, on the side of the righteous. And therefore exactly that ideology that denounced Jesus and killed him by hanging him on a cross, because he disturbed.

How it disturbs, yesterday and today, anyone who says that it is the world, here and now, that is the symbol of God, the epiphany of his holiness, his power and his glory. That we are all called to see God in everything in the world, to give thanks even when we don't understand it, because he always has something to tell us, which can question us and help us change. Called, all, to transmit our vision to others, to make our life the mission of returning the world drenched in death in the arms of Who is life: celebrating the daily liturgy of the transformation of humanity of individuals into a human family of children and brothers.
The only liturgy capable of building beautiful churches.

Flaminia Morandi
NP November 2020

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