Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Who Doesn’t Want Another Sacred Heart Cathedral?

December 23rd, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

St. Joseph’s church in Penfield is planning on renovating… *sigh*

Doesn’t the proposed design below look eerily similar to a certain Rochester Cathedral?

Here is a description of the church renovations to come to St. Joseph’s, with emphasis and comments:

“As we walk into the church we will see the Baptismal Font, representing the starting point of our journey of faith. To remember our Baptism, we make the sign of the cross using the living, flowing [Read: waterfall] abundant water [Read: Jacuzzi] from the baptismal font. In the same axis down the aisle, we see the Ambo [Like Sacred Heart?], where the word of God is proclaimed and the Altar, the place where the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ; food for our journey. As we are sent forth to love and serve the Lord, once again, we bless ourselves to remind us of the unending journey with Christ through the waters of Baptism into new life.”

These Spirit of Vatican II people are not going down without a fight. They have done enough to damage the Mass with their inclusive language liturgies, lay preachers, and liturgical dancers. To damage our churches in such a costly and difficult to undo fashion will be a lasting monument to these errors and the people behind them, which we will be forced to live with for decades to come. Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Theodore, St. John the Evangelist in Spencerport, St. Ambrose, Christ the King, Holy Ghost, St. John the Evangelist in Rochester, St. Mary’s downtown, Our Lady Queen of Peace, St. Pius X, and now St. Joseph’s in Penfield. When will these wreckovations end, O Lord?

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9 Responses to “Who Doesn’t Want Another Sacred Heart Cathedral?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, I don't see what is "right" about St. Joe's now. Seems like a lateral move to me.

  2. CPT Tom says:

    I think there should be a moratorium on all building in the diocese until 2013. This hasn't exactly been a golden era of church architecture in the DOR, has it?

  3. Gen says:

    Church architecture died in the 50's. Every church built after that (with VERY FEW exceptions) looks dismally Protestant.

  4. Bernie says:

    I don't find it terribly inspiring but it seems quite acceptable. The font, in size and shape, is actually firmly rooted in the tradition of the Church having originated in the period of Constantine the Great –before, actually. The sanctuary maintains a traditional floor plan: a central aisle leads to a raised chancel area. It therefore reflects the hierarchic nature of the Church and Her Liturgy. The altar appears traditional in shape and size and a naturalistic crucifix dominates the chancel. I think the pulpit is to the left. The celebrant's chair appears to be against the wall under the crucifix. I'm afraid it is going to look like the priest's head is on the altar when he is seated! I would probably position the chair to the right of the altar. It's nice to see an attempt at a suspended canopy (ciborium or baldachino). The tabernacle is at least clearly visible from every seat and has a ciborium that echoes that over the altar. The dark ceiling beams are interesting in that they provide a strong pattern in an otherwise unadorned, plain interior. If I had a major criticism I guess I would say that it appears dated; 50s'ish. That's a period style I don't happen to like. The font is similar to the one in Sacred Heart Cathedral which I happen to like. I'm happy to see a return in contemporary churches to the large early Christian baptistery style font. It's a far more noble setting for the sacrament of baptism than the pedestal style font that took over once adult baptism became rare. It can be used for all three types of baptism and its symbolic value is powerful (although folks need to be taught the symbolism; it's not apparent to contemporary eyes. It would have been obvious to 4th century Christians –and pagans). I don't think this is a bad design at all.

    Catholic tradition includes a strand of puritanism in church decoration. Saint Bernard was much opposed to decorative distractions in architecture and in music. The Order he joined, the Cistersians, under his leadership built many plain abbey churches and used only vestments made from common materials –no gold tread and no elaborate designs! Well before Bernard, St. Jerome and others in the Constantinian period were dismayed by the richly decorated basilicas popping up all over the Empire. Catholic tradition has favored ornamentation, fantasy, expressiveness, and complexity but there is a legitimate minority tradition opposed and yet still Catholic. We need to respect both.

  5. Gen says:

    If only there were some more holy images around the sanctuary and the nave. Then it would be more palatable.

  6. Bernie says:

    Personally, I agree with Gen. I am partial to an abundance of imagery –programmed, iconic imagery such as is found in a traditional Orthodox church. I don't feel at all at home in the kind of atmosphere this renovation will create. Unlike the East the Western Church has never adopted a canon of decoration. As a result, some would claim the West is more creative and more responsive to people's needs in presenting the Faith. Others see a lack of clarity and focus, and an opportunity for heresy.

  7. Dr. K says:


    Although the picture appears to show the ambo in its present location, to the left of the altar when looking from the pews, their description sounds like it will be placed in front of the altar ("same axis"). Although this has tradition in the Eastern churches, I don't believe there is tradition for this in the Latin rite.

    Good points about the baptismal font. You've begun to sway my thinking a bit on this.

    The canopy is already at St. Joe's, as is the current tabernacle placement. There are two statues that I'm aware of. Both are wall mounted and colorless. They flank each side of the sanctuary.

    ~Dr. K

  8. Anonymous says:

    Usually there is running water in the baptismal fountain. During mass, one hears a persistent dribble from the fountain that dominates the church sounds.

  9. Bernie says:

    An ambo in the nave was rather common in the Eastern churches until relatively recently. They are rare (I believe) –anywhere in the building– now. The reverse is true of the Western churches; sermons were not required in the Western Church until the 6th century and so the ambo was rare in the West until then. Now, of course, the ambo is common in the West. The placement in the nave had the practical purpose of enabling the lector to be heard. Like many practical arrangements in the early centuries the placement of the ambo later took on religious connotations. You will recall that on solemn occasions the priest/deacon processes with the Gospel book and candles/incense to the center of the nave/center aisle to chant the Gospel. The symbolism of course is of the first "appearance" of the Lord during the Liturgy when He comes among us in the Gospel. (The second is the consecration.)That's a carryover from when the ambo was in the nave. This is the "Little Entrance" of the Eastern rite when the Gospel book is processed out of the northern door, through the congregation and in through the Royal or central door and placed on the altar. This is often abbreviated with a short procession from the northern door across the front of the iconostasis screen to the central door. The Gospel is read from in front of the Royal Door, sometimes with a portable stand to hold the book. Sermons are delivered from the same place, in front of the center door. The arrangement of pulpit and altar in Sacred Heart Cathedral is, I believe, unique. I don't recall running across a situation where the ambo was placed "behind" the altar or between the altar and the apse/bishop's throne. There were some arrangements in Northern Africa in the 4th and 5th centuries that placed the altar half way down the nave so there might have been some such arrangement at that time. At any rate I'm not bothered by an ambo on the central axis (although ambon were usually placed off center in the nave –close to the columns delineating the border with the side aisle).

    However, unless you consider some Protestant practices there is nothing in venerable Christian church building tradition that assigns to the pipes of an organ such a prominent visual position as is found in Sacred Heart. That is a very disturbing innovation.

    RE: running water. Baptisteries were usually, at first, separate buildings and, later, separate rooms. (And only located at cathedrals.) The sound of running water was not a problem. The water in a contemporary font should be turned off once Mass begins, in my opinion. The sound is only appropriate when celebrating Baptism. Parishioners should tell the staff that the sound is annoying. It seems to work if people complain about incense!

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