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consecration

I was pointed to the above and other videos of La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) after the discussion about (de)consecration. Even beyond the discussions about (de)consecration we can learn much from the clip in terms of lavishness of symbol; vesture, music…

Salm responsorial: 83 (Catalan)

Que n’és d’amable, el vostre temple,
Senyor de l’univers.
Tot jo sospiro i em deleixo
pels atris del Senyor.
Ple de goig, i amb tot el cor,
aclamo el Déu que m’és vida.

Feliç el qui viu a casa vostra, Senyor.

Feliç el qui viu a casa vostra
lloant-vos cada dia.
Feliços els qui s’acullen als vostres murs:
emprenen amb amor el camí.

Senyor de l’univers, escolteu la meva súplica,
escolteu, Déu de Jacob.
Déu nostre, mireu amb amor el vostre Ungit,
fixeu-vos en el rei que ens protegeix.

Psalm 83 (84)

They are happy, who dwell in your house, Lord.

My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood;
she lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
they walk with ever growing strength.

One day within your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the house of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.

Another video
and another from a different occasion showing the church building

There has been comment about the lack of symbolism used at the Christchurch Cathedral deconsecration (and the lack of involving Maori). I cannot comment, as I wasn’t invited. These videos certainly encourage this. I do not know what the traditional symbols and signs associated with deconsecration are. Some, of course, probably could not have been used – as the building itself was off limits. No one has yet provided me with the NZ rite of deconsecration or confirmed whether or not there is such a thing, or whether bishops agree to use the same overseas one (effectively making it the NZ one), or each construct their own.

And if something of the creativity of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia comes to be the future Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch – well it would certainly be a welcome change from the tilt-slab and glass plans and commenced work that I fear will dominate the new city.

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14 Responses to consecration

  1. Hi Bosco,
    Let me say a word in favour of tilt slabs: when there are people starving to death in the world etc I think we should carefully consider as a diocese how much we spend in new churches, including a new cathedral. The flip side of arguments in Chch favouring ‘rebuild at any cost’ is the likely future denunciation of us if we are extravagant! So tilt slab churches might be a cost effective way of proceeding. A good architect should be able to do something with glass and coloursteel to make tilt slab walls into an attractive building.

    The lovely chapel at Kopua, you will recall, is the plainest of buildings, reflecting Cistercian architectural values from which we may draw appropriate inspiration!

    • Thanks, Peter. I think what you say very important for us to consider. My phrasing may be unclear, I was referring not primarily to our church buildings, but to the look of our future city. There were suggestions about having Victoria Street as a grand entryway into the new city. In any case, it is a very significant street. The tilt-slab monstrosity currently going up opposite Knox has, I understand, a private swimming pool on the second floor. I would love to be wrong – completed, it may look awesome. But I suspect this is going to be an eyesore – and (NB private swimming pool) not an inexpensive eyesore.

      I am primarily a pure mathematician, not an applied one, but many who understand such things have said to me that tilt-slab is not the best way forward in an earthquake environment.

      Like you, I would love Cistercian architectural values to be a feature of our future church buildings. The series on architecture that I have started certainly, I hope, stresses the beauty of simplicity.

      Blessings

  2. Speaking from a Roman Catholic perspective, there is no official rite of de-consecration. The Code of Canon Law states in Canon 1212 that “Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they suffer major destruction or if they have been permanently given over to profane uses, de facto or through a decree of the competent ordinary.”

    That being said however, I know that many dioceses have developed various rituals surrounding the closing of a church building. Generally, these seem to include prayers of commemoration associated with the furnishings attached specifically to the sacraments (e.g. “We recall and give thanks for all those reborn through the saving waters of this font…”)

    I feel that such rituals are extremely important. As humans, we look to ritual in times of confusion as a sort of framework for helping things “make sense.” A gathered Christian community needs the ability to ritually take leave of a sacred space, rather than simply reading a letter from the bishop that declares the space “de-consecrated.”

  3. I think that what happened at Christchurch Cathedral was perfectly adequate – a simple return of the building to secular use. I’m sure that this is what has happened with the many church building around the world that have lost their religious provenance – either by destruction or their sale for secular purposes.

  4. Based on the article posted on Anglican Taonga’s website, it appears that Bishop Victoria followed the service for Secularizing a Consecrated Building found in TEC’s Book of Occasional Services (although it’s certainly possible that the Canadian Church has a similar service with which she would obviously be familiar). I haven’t been able to find an online version of the TEC service in English, but I found one in Spanish at:

    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/HM_Ritual_para_Ocasiones_Especiales.pdf (The service starts on page 267).

    • Thanks, Paul. That is very helpful. Here is the TEC rite you mention:

      Secularizing a Consecrated Building
      The Altar(s) and all consecrated and dedicated objects that are to be preserved are removed from the building before the service begins.
      The bishop, or a minister appointed by the bishop, presides.
      The clergy of the congregation, the churchwardens, and other persons who desire to participate, assemble in the building.
      The Presiding Minister, using these or similar words, says

      We who are gathered here know that this building, which has been consecrated and set apart for the ministry of God’s holy Word and Sacraments, will no longer be used in this way, but will be taken down (used for other purposes).
      To many of you this building has been hallowed by cherished memories, and we know that some will suffer a sense of loss. We pray that they will be comforted by the knowledge that the presence of God is not tied to any place or building.
      The Altar has been removed and protected from desecration.
      It is the intention of the diocese that the congregation which worshiped here will not be deprived of the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
      Let the [bishop’s] Declaration of Secularization now be read.

      Then a Warden, or other person appointed, reads the bishop’s Declaration, which is to be in the following form
      In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
      On the __________ day of __________, in the year of our Lord __________, by N.N., Bishop of __________, this building was duly dedicated and consecrated in honor of __________ [and named __________].
      The Sentence of Consecration has been in effect until this present date.
      I, N.N., Bishop of __________, do hereby revoke the said Sentence [issued by my predecessor], and do remit this building, and all objects remaining in it, for any lawful and reputable use, according to the laws of this land.
      This building, having now been declared deconsecrated and secularized, I declare to be no longer subject to my canonical jurisdiction.
      This Declaration, which is to be publicly proclaimed before witnesses gathered at the said building, is given under my hand and seal, in the City of __________, State of __________, and Diocese of __________, on this __________ day of __________, in the year of our Lord __________.
      (signed) ____________________ Bishop of ___________________
      After the foregoing Declaration has been read, the Presiding Minister says

      The Lord be with you.
      And also with you. Let us pray.
      Minister and People
      Our Father . . . .

      Then the Presiding Minister says
      Lord God, in your great goodness you once accepted to your honor and glory this building, now secularized: Receive our praise and thanksgiving for the blessings, help, and comfort which you bestowed upon your people in this place. Continue, we pray, your many mercies in your Church, that we may be conscious at all times of your unchanging love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
      Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that among the swift and varied changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
      The Lord bless us and keep us. Amen. The Lord make his face to shine upon us,
      and be gracious to us. Amen. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us,
      and give us peace. Amen.
      The Peace may be exchanged.

  5. Regarding the second linked video of the camera wondering around the inside of the Holy Family Basilica; I think that someone is having a little fun here. I think someone had a video and a nice piece of organ music and decided to put them together for YouTube. I find it hard to imagine that someone played a popular Anglican hymn in a service in this Roman Catholic basilica in Spain! 😉

  6. For several days in early July 2010 I was often at Mass in the Catherdal Church of S James in Santiago de Compostella.

    On the Saturday at about 1 pm there was a choir singing to a well known Handel chorus (?from Judas Maccabeus).

    Presumably they knew of General Booth’s maxim that the devil shouldn’t have all the best tunes.

  7. Alan, if you are speaking to me, Handle’s Judas Maccabeus is a far cry different from Sir Hubert Parry’s anthem setting of William Blake’s poem of the mythic visit of the young Jesus Christ and his alleged uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, to Glastonbury, England. 🙂

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