When we choose art for our churches, do we consider how the art will contribute to the worship space, or do we just go with whatever the pastor, or the parish council, or the donor likes? Art is a powerful catechetical tool. Along with the music and architecture of a worship space, art helps to create an environment that lifts our hearts and minds to God and prepares us for the sacraments.
That means that we should have a plan for the art that adorns our churches. We should consider not only the placement of paintings, windows, and statues but also how that placement informs our faith. What subjects are most appropriate for the baptistry, the narthex, the nave, or the sanctuary?
How about the confessional?
Gregory Dipippo at The New Liturgical Movement has given us a look at a baroque confessional and how all the intricate carvings and decoration contribute to the penitent’s understanding of the sacrament.
Then consider the art in your own church, does it inform the faithful or is it just decoration?
“The true purpose of sacred art, as of good theology, is not to say something about God, but to be a medium through which the believer can participate in the realities signified by the work; ultimately, to insert us into the ongoing action of the Mystery of Christ.”