S2E7 – Interior Decoration for Interior Dedication
An addendum to last week’s episode: Don’t hesitate to ask a priest to bless salt and holy water for use in your home and daily life. The carrying of blessed sacramentals is empowering and enlightening, an ongoing awareness-builder of our access to God’s grace for resisting evil. The priest’s act of blessing these sacramentals is itself a wonderful act of community and communion, bridging parish, home and the broader Church. This solidarity helps us appreciate the Lord’s incarnation and salvation in our lives as individuals and families.
We are a Church of decoration and remembrance, as Ken put it. Icons, crucifixes, stained glass windows, statues, and many other decorative resources from our Church feed our visual nature as human beings through their beauty. For example, the majestic impact of Michelangelo’s renowned sculpture, “The Pieta,” is a source of inspiration and catechesis. It’s a prayer in stone, said Ken. This and other Michelangelo masterpieces, such as the “Risen Christ” sculpture depicting Jesus carrying his cross.
On a more mundane and private, personal level, Bill relates the story of his wife’s childhood memory when she and her sisters would exchange clothes for the family’s Infant of Prague statue with clothes for their Barbie dolls. She explains the Infant of Prague clothes were tempting attire for children’s toys not out of disrespect but “because they were the prettiest clothes in the house.” It was an example of simple joy over a source of beauty in the domestic church and an implicit household aid for kids to develop an awareness of different garbs and colors having religious, liturgical meaning through love and honor.
Ken talked about the photographs, icons and other images that decorate his house as reminders of active participation in the Catholic faith. He and his wife have a hallway of saints evoking memories and inspiration through a variety of images, even a paint-by-numbers picture of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
A book written for children, Pictures of God, is an introduction to icons. Bill noted that the introduction captures kids’ imaginations with this statement: “Icons, like all beautiful things, reveal God to us. They are quieter than most of the art we are used to, which screams ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ Icons whisper, ‘Look at God! Look at God!’”
A go-to image for the Church to embody God’s self-sacrificing and salvific love for us is the crucifix. A distinctly Catholic image including the corpus of Jesus reflects the death of Christ on the cross as the necessary precursor to Resurrection. It may not be conventionally beautiful because it is bloody, an image of suffering. But it is an impactful summation of faith—incarnational, a representation of divine and human reality.
The “Mama Needs Coffee” blog reminds us that Jesus made mud to heal a deaf man. We are saved through the “scandalous” mystery of the incarnation by which God works through things of this world to bring supernatural gifts.
Art is used in churches to lift up the mind and heart to God. We should take better note of what is decorating our churches and our homes. The images can help our faith to grow and can be vehicles for God’s blessing through our attentive appreciation.