"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
I think the neopagan and New Ager instinctively understands what the Western Church used to, but has largely forgotten: the power of transcendent symbols in worship, and their ability to point to God. Items like Chant, the high altar, baldacchino, altar rails, iconography, smells and bells, etc. The Eastern Church understands this perfectly, as can be seen with the iconostasis, complete with gates, which, far from proclaiming "exclusion," proclaims instead mystery and holiness. Not coincidentally, Vosko doesn't seem to get calls from either the Byzantines or the Orthodox.
Indeed, far from separating us from God, these artifacts remind us of Him.
The early Church understood the longings of pagans. It did not deny them, but rather the Church baptized and redirected these longings to the true worship of God Become Man. Think St. Paul on the Areopagus. Frankly, these spiritual cravings are not so much pagan as universally human. As part of this process, the Church pointed the newly-converted to more universal elements in the liturgy, such as the use of altars, images and incense, and adopted church design, art and even Roman civil organization (the "diocese") from the surrounding Empire.
In addition, the Church developed other art forms which it incorporated in the liturgy, like the aforementioned Chant, high altars, etc. These items stayed on because they pointed to the transcendent.
And, lo, it worked. The Catholic Church became a Church Universal indeed, converting and retaining the descendants of such diverse cultures as the Chinese, Aztecs, Slavs, Africans and even barbarian Saxons and Celts on two largish islands off the northwest coast of Europe.
No more. The vertical is largely lost, and what remains is obscured…