Friday, May 16, 2003

Not inflatable...

...but she's got some impressive doors on her..

Munich's newest RC church building

The present age is volatile, overstimulated, wickedly efficient, technologically afire, religiously competitive yet vigorously secular. Under the circumstances, Munich's newest Catholic church, the Church of the Sacred Heart, with its simplicity, its space, its smooth planes and clean light, is a welcome relief. Within this spare glass cube -- one entire wall of which serves as a mammoth set of doors -- sits a smaller cube of maple slats that houses two columns of unadorned pews and a plain stone altar. One of the few features that distinguish this building as a church is the enormous though not immediately discernible pattern of the cross woven into the wall of metal mesh behind the altar. The cross is not an object but a surface whose texture suggests it. In light both natural and incandescent, it fairly glows, and in its ethereal clarity, it seems to point not just toward Christ's suffering but also toward the hope and redemption that the crucifixion was intended to achieve for us.

Ecclesiastical architects appear to have rediscovered the monastic idea, without any of its harsh austerity, that the soul burgeons best when given a little room. God speaks for himself. In the purity and simplicity of this modern church, his voice is clearly audible.