Newman Beatification Altar

I just saw this rendering of the altar to be used for Cardinal Newman's beatification at Holy Smoke.  I went to the Papal Visit website just to make sure that it wasn't one of Damian's pranks.  It's not.

Can someone tell me what makes this an appropriate setting for Benedict XVI to beatify John Henry Newman?

Author: Br. Stephen Treat, O.Cist

Br. Stephen Treat, O.Cist. is a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank. Like many others, his path led from an evangelical childhood in the South to Anglicanism and into the Roman Catholic Church. Our Lady of Spring Bank is a small Abbey of the Order of Cistercians, generally known as the Common Cistercians, located on 600 acres near La Crosse, Wisconsin.

23 thoughts on “Newman Beatification Altar”

  1. The beatification is permanent. This thing is temporary. Consider it in the same vein as consecrating the Precious Blood in a tin cup.

    It's a pity, since we could have had a beautiful occasion celebrated in a beautiful venue, but apparently that was not to be. Gain some encouragement by the thought that the canonization will take place at St. Peter's.

  2. Looks like an airport hangar.

    I'm disappointed that I don't see a separate stage reserved for a Beatle-esque worship band. Missing a big opportunity to tap into Brit rock 'n roll patrimony here. :p

    1. It looks like one of the airport concourses where you wait for the boarding announcement. It does look like the ones in Hong Kong or Bangkok. It is so much a laugh that even the Bad Vestments blog had to make an exception to what else but bad vestments for bad set design. They say that security concerns topped the list so we have what else, but the "clean" zone of the airport!

      I hope the Pope will wear splendid vestments when he does beatify Cardinal Newman.

  3. My sort of naysaying comment:

    Not my style really but I don't hate it.

    This well could have been planned and built in the early '60s.

    NLM's series on 'The Other Modern' nails this: it doesn't have to be pastiche Gothic or bogus baroque to be orthodox.

    All the good liturgical-movement principles and practice are here: prominent altar, ciborium/baldacchino, cathedra…

    It would work if, as in 1960, they meant to do the old Mass in it.

    But of course they won't so it'll stink.

    So you and Damian are right after all: it's the Magic Circle (British Modernist RCs, 'British AmChurch') sticking it to Benedict.

  4. Let us pray the liturgy celebrated by the Holy Father will engage all those present, and those viewing on television, in such a manner that we shall be transported to a higher place where the structure of the building around him will be forgotten.

  5. I can't help but think these various decisions, regarding music, locations, graphic designs, etc., that keep popping up in reference to the beatification betray a deliberate and thinly-veiled insult to our Holy Father. Everything seems to be being planned by mean-spirited double-knit dinosaurs who know their "Spirit of Vatican II" ecclesiology is dying out so they lash out like toddlers in an attempt to belittle the return of the sacred.

    In the end, it's them I feel more sorry for than for those of us who see through it. As Br. Stephen said, "this too shall pass," but the cruel obstinacy of a certain generation of Catholics may have eternal consequences for them. I suppose all we can do is pray.

  6. Newman would have shuddered to see the celebrant set up on a higher throne than the altar of the Lord.

    This design is frankly presbyterian in its theological statements.

  7. The Modernists' venues are always bad but they are usually bad in some discernible way, some way that fits a category. This is just bad.


  8. I have seen a lot of thoroughly modernist sanctuaries that are still – in some sense – beautiful, and well designed. This is not one of them.

  9. The Holy Father can't micromanage everything but surely, there are those his envoys from the Vatican who know his likes/dislikes. Did/could they have made the Holy Fathers' wishes known to the organizers? Especially the having his throne placed higher than the altar, as seems to be the norm in the U.S.

  10. This is why I tend to think you're all better off in the western rite vicariate of the orthodox church.

    You can go on all you like about the weaknesses of the Orthodox and their lack of a Pope, but as you can see by this example.

    The Pope really doesnt have that much effect anyway.

    A tradition that is even stronger than papel authority is what the solution is.
    Something deeper…
    This modernist junk is heresy and it never goes away.

    1. Western rite orthodoxy is eo ipso an innovation with no historical continuity; it is very optimistic to think that it could overcome such a lack of roots (or that it could somehow 'borrow' the Roman roots, while cutting itself off from Rome).

      Eastern Rite Catholicism is just as 'pure' as its Eastern cousins, so those who really cannot tolerate what the Western rite has become might do well to look into being received there. There is much to be said for the aesthetics and history of the Byzantine and Syriac rites, but one need not renounce the See of Peter to participate in them. That said, the TLM is carving out a larger and larger place in the Western church, and provides an appropriate home to those who are drawn to it.

  11. I agree with Guzmang1. Surely there must be someone in the Vast Vatican Bureaucracy who had to sign off on this following the Pope's orders. Why must this be the "Magic Circle sticking it to [Pope] Benedict?"

  12. Around 548 AD, The bishops of Aquileia, Milan, and of the Istrian peninsula all refused to condemn the Three Chapters, and excommunicated the Popes for their subscription. Since these bishops were subjects of the Lombards, they were beyond the reach of both the Pope and the Exarch at Ravenna, and maintained their dissent into the 7th century. The see of Milan renewed communion with Rome when its bishop Fronto died about 581. As he had fled from the Lombards to refuge at Genoa, his successor was dependent upon the Byzantines for support, and was induced to subscribe to the condemnation.

    On the death of Severus, the Archbishop of Aquileia in 607, the Byzantines made a vain attempt to install a favorable prelate in that office, which only served to deepen the schism along Lombard-Roman lines. Columbanus was involved in the first attempt to resolve this division through mediation in 613.

    The remaining primates ended the schism only after the Lombards embraced Roman Catholicism in the 7th century, formally at the Synod of Aquileia in 698. This extended period of independence contributed to the evolution of the independent Patriarch of Venice from the Patriarch of Aquileia.

    Latin christianity and Roman christianity have not always been inseparable.
    Many of us are unaware of history.

  13. I would add that I did not find the confirmation of the 15 year olds in the eritrean catholic church around catholic university near DC to be particularly representative of a pure eastern christianity. Nor did I find the guitar folk singer in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Liturgy in Harrisburg, PA (held in St. Ann's Carpatho-Rus Byzantine Cath Church) representative of it. Nor have I found the Melkite "Eucharistic Awareness Event" version of "Frist Communion" to be pure eastern christianity. <-take a look.

    Let us watch the two eastern catholic prelates process while the deacon does his liturgical dance routine at the 2010 Los Angeles Religious Education Conference.

    The Latin Catholic Church is a bunch of competing factions where the latin flavor of the era dominates and impedes itself on everything else.

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