I want to make an analogous connection between these architectural aspects and stewardship. I believe they can be connected to the four pillars of stewardship:
- Wood = Hospitality
- Stone = Service
- Concrete = Prayer
- Geometric Shape = Formation
Let me explain ...
Of the four architectural elements listed, two are found within God’s natural creation, and two are a product of man’s creativity. Wood and stone are found in creation, without alteration from man, while concrete and geometric shape are an aspect of man’s creative abilities given by God.
Wood itself, in relation to the architecture of the church, is the beautifying and welcoming element. Practically speaking, where there once was blue carpet along the floorboards or on the base of the altar in the adoration chapel, there is now wood. The window fins, previously only found on the adoration windows and on the pipe organ wall, now adorn the viewing area and new holy water fonts and elegant oil stands in the baptistry*. More importantly, our entrance doors are made of oak wood, beautifully polished to bring out its rich character and its unifying effect on the overall scope of wood in the church. This wood is both beautifying and inviting. Hospitality, the first pillar of Stewardship, is meant to be attractive, drawing people into the beauty of faith and parish life, as well as inviting, beckoning people into the liturgical space with an invitation to the love of God and neighbor.
Stone, the second natural element, is the material used not only for beauty but also for structure. Each stone holds up another stone. No matter how small or large, each stone has a place in the structure, such that if even one stone were removed a person would immediately see its absence. Also, this stone is found on every building in our campus, outside, inside, in the church, in the school, on Clare Hall, in the offices, and even next to the playground. In relation to stewardship, St. Peter says, “You also as living stones are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5). Just as, in the Church, one stone supports another, so too the people of God are to support one another as St. Paul says, “Carry one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Also, just as the stone is found on every part of our campus, so too we are called to serve one another in every capacity of service necessary for the full functioning of our parish family.
Concrete, the first of our two man-made elements, speaks to prayer and, perhaps more fittingly, worship. The concrete pillars are the strongest structure of our building, resting on the foundations of our church and stretching upward toward the sky. So too, prayer and worship are the foundation of our parish family life and stretch upward toward the heavens. They stretch upward from the foundations of our daily, earthly lives and cause us to spiritually look up to God, even as the concrete pillars cause our eyes to physically rise upward. The concrete pillars also represent our human activity or prayer, that is caught up in the heavenly activity of worship. Our prayer and worship glorify God and serve as the structural foundation of our entire existence, even as St. Paul says, “We exist to praise God’s glory” (Eph 1:12).
Finally, the geometric shapes which are indicative and constitutive of the entire architectural design of our parish church and Bonaventure center, reveal man’s creative genius in applying the human mind to both form and function. First, I speak of ‘geometric’ shape because math is a privileged function of the human mind alone. A beaver may make a dam, but only a human can make a mathematically precise construction. The geometry of our building speaks to human intelligence in abstract thought, by which man can understand the universe and the truths it contains. Secondly, the primary geometric shape of our architecture is the triangle or triangularity; most specifically, our pillars are true triangles. Both aspects speak to formation, in so far as theology is man’s grasp of revealed truths leading us fully to the worship of God and service of man. In addition, the triangularity reminds us that the Trinity itself is the “central mystery of our faith” (CCC 234). It is also the formal mission of our parish: To be united in the Eucharist and formed as instruments of peace through the practice of stewardship in imitation of God’s Triune love.
Thus, these four architectural elements of our church construction - wood, stone, concrete and geometric shape - speak to the four pillars of Stewardship: hospitality, service, prayer, and formation.
*Baptistry is the formal title for the area or room comprised of the baptismal font and the ambry, which is where the oils are kept.
Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor