Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in University City, Missouri - front door with Lenten wreathes
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in University City, Missouri

Prayers Needed

For a very sick, frightened, and discouraged friend.

Thank you very much.

[UPDATE: Sadly, my friend, Lisa Kacalieff, has died. Please pray for the repose of her soul.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Photos of Saint Ambrose Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Here are photos of Saint Ambrose Church in Saint Louis, Missouri. It is located in the historically Italian 'Hill' neighborhood, and is the location of numerous fine Italian restaurants. If you enjoy good food and good Catholic culture, then by all means visit the Hill.

The church was built in 1926.

Click here for more photos of the exterior of the church.

Benefattori della chiesa, "benefactors of the church", located in the narthex.

IL 29 GUIGNO, 1926
_______ _______


An unusual devotional wheel, also in the narthex, with prayers for one hour of the day based on the first letter of your name.

The nave following Ash Wednesday Mass. The church was filled that evening.

The lights went off in the church before I got a closeup photo of the altar; this was taken with a flash. The small table in front of the altar was used to hold the palm ashes for Ash Wednesday.

Statue of Saint Ambrose (ca. 340 - 397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor and Father of the Church. His writings are here and here.

Stations of the Cross.

X Stazione: Gesù spogliato ed abbeverato di fiele
IX Stazione: Terza caduta di Gesù sotto la Croce

Choir loft and organ pipes in the back of the church, along with further lists of benefactors.

A view of a stained glass window from outside of the church.

130 Wilson Avenue
St Louis, Missouri 63110

Monday, February 26, 2007

Jury Duty

ARISTOTLE ASKED, "As a free people, how ought we order our lives together?" The important word here is "ought": politics and the law is a matter of morality, and if we consider morality to be our conformance to the natural moral law, then our opinions on the matter can be either right or wrong, or somewhere in between. The matter of justice, if we believe that justice is a real, objective thing, requires conformance to the truth, and if we think that truth is objective, and potentially knowable, then we have to consider how we can come to the truth. The alternative to this is raw power and force: victory goes to the strong or the fortunate.

I was on jury duty last week. The trial was canceled, so I never got beyond the jury selection process. While downtown for jury duty, I brought my camera, so here are photos of some of the many courthouses in downtown Saint Louis.

It seems that the natural legal system consists of more-or-less established judges who decide conflicts based on long tradition and reason, and it seems that also some form of jury or another is also fairly common in all times and places. Now in small, traditional societies, dispute resolution tends to be done informally, since in all probability everyone in town knows everyone else fairly well, so only major disputes have to be settled in some more formal way. This seems to be the natural situation; however, greed and ambition leads to conquering empires and tyrants, and the law being based merely on force. Often we hope that common sense and a love of the truth will lead the law back to its more natural form.

When there is a conflict between men, and we hope to settle it peacefully, the major question is that of truth: what actually happened? Only if we know the facts of the situation can we then apply the law or custom to help settle the conflict. Many disputes come down to a "he said, she said" situation where individuals in the conflict have their own version of what happened, but we also have physical evidence, witnesses, documents, and such forth that can be used to help determine what actually happened.

The foundation of the American legal system, common law, mainly dates from the late Middle Ages in England, and that is where our particular jury system developed. Our modern jury system is used to help determine the facts of a dispute. The jurors, and not the judge, have to determine if witnesses are telling the truth, or whether or not evidence really proves guilt. A similar jury system developed in ancient Greece. Other legal systems usually place the burden of finding the truth on the judge.

Legal systems go back to the very remotest of antiquity, and often remain in force for ages. Consider, for example, the Law of Moses, still observed by the Jews and even in part by Christian society. In the Orient, the Law of Confucius has been quite durable, and even is finding a modern resurgence in China. Roman Law remained in force in the West for more than a thousand years, and after the fall of the Western Empire, continued to be used in the Byzantine East for another thousand years. Roman Law remains the basis for modern continental European civil law and the Church's canon law. Under this system, judges have the responsibility of finding facts, and sometimes even act as detectives, investigating crime scenes and such.

Even after the fall of the Empire in the West to the barbarian Germans, Roman Law continued to be used in individual communities and by the Church. But the invaders tended to be men of pride and ambition, and their laws were based more on force than on truth, and so the laws of the West quickly became degraded by the whims of the rulers.

The Germanic and Viking invasions brought the Trial by Ordeal. The barbarian kings loved a spectacle and had little use for learning or the truth. In one kind of ordeal, a defendant was bound and thrown into water; if they were innocent, they thought, they would sink, and if guilty they would float. [Note, that is not a typo: if you sink you are innocent.] In another ordeal, a defendant had to pluck a stone from a vat of steaming hot water; if they were successful, they were declared innocent. The justification for this was superstitious, hoping that God would prove guilt or innocence by performing a miracle, and the State forced priests to participate in these trials. Theologians, of course, were appalled by this tempting of God, and there is absolutely no religious justification for this kind of trial. It should be noted that opposition to trials by ordeal was a major motivation for the pursuit of the freedom of the Church from the State. Pope Innocent III eventually was able to condemn the practice. In the religious pluralism that developed after the Reformation, trial by ordeal became popular once again, including with the Puritans in New England.

Pope Innocent III, in rejecting trials by ordeal, instead encouraged the old system of compurgation, which was the forerunner of the modern jury. In this system, a defendant could establish innocence or nonliability by providing a required number of persons (usually 12) who would swear that he was telling the truth. This system, which works quite well in small communities where everyone knows each other, but otherwise has obvious problems, was eventually abolished by the 19th century.

Trial by Combat was another barbarian innovation. Here, disputes were settled by fighting, with the strongest usually winning. This system was imposed by the nobility, who loved to watch a good battle. Trial by combat was a Germanic innovation, and was repugnant to both the Roman and the Mosaic Law. Trials by Combat were brought to England by the Norman Conquest, although trial by jury became available a century later. The last English trial by battle was in 1583. Commoners had to go through the courts to participate in trials by battle, and the legal system eventually strongly discouraged actual battles: disputants in court were assisted by seconds, or squires, who would negotiate with each other in hopes of averting battle. These squires led to the general English practice of using lawyers in court, and this is why lawyers often use the title Esquire. Trial by combat remained popular among the aristocracy, especially for property disputes. Unlike commoners, the aristocracy did not have to go before the courts, and this eventually led to the practice of dueling, which only fell out of favor by the mid 19th century.

In our current age, the jury system is showing severe problems. Theoretically, jurors are chosen at random from the pool of registered voters, but the practice of venue-shopping allows a plaintiff to select the best geographic area to bring about a lawsuit. For example, lawsuits against a business can be filed wherever that business operates, so lawyers can select a friendly jurisdiction where victory is assured. The recent innovation of awarding large punitive settlements, far above actual legal damages, has distorted our civil law into a legal extortion racket. The ability of a criminal defendant to get a fair trial by jury is often debated: it can hardly be claimed that a person is typically tried by a jury of his actual peers. Finally, modern legislatures tend to be timid and do not want to create controversial laws: instead, new laws are written vaguely enough to ensure that the final law will be settled in the courts with specifically-targeted lawsuits brought by activists.

Notes on photos: the Civil Courts building is topped by an imitation of King Maussollos's tomb at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The giant modern federal courts building is a sign of a new trend towards federalizing law; more cases will be tried in federal, and not state courts.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New German Plan to Increase Childrens' Daycare

CHRIS GILLIBRAND POSTED two articles on a controversy starting in Germany between Bishop Dr. Walter Mixa of Augsburg and the German government.

See the article, Bishop criticises family policy in Germany:
[Bishop Mixa] has criticised Family Minister van der Leyen’s plans to enormously extend children’s nursery places from 250,000 to 750,000 by the year 2013...

He called them “harmful for children and families and one sided” concentrating an active increase in working mothers with small children. The Bishop said that it was “a socio-political scandal” to cut other family allowances in order to finance new crèche facilities. “Frau van der Leyen’s family policy does not serve in the first instance the welfare of the child or the strengthening of the family but is solely concerned to recruit young women as workforce reserves for industry”...

Two income families have been elevated to an ideological fetish by the Christian Democratic Union Minister van der Leyen. Those who seduce mothers to leave their children shortly after birth to place them in state-run nurseries and support this with state subsidy, they degrade the women to become a “baby making machine”...
The Socialist response is quite obnoxious, but the policy of having women work, with children being raised by the State, is a cornerstone of Communist and Socialist policy. What is quite disturbing is that this policy is now taken up by so-called conservatives, because it is good for the economy. See Chris' article where the Socialist Party head "compares Bishop Mixa to a castrated cat for his comments on family policy."
"When the cat no longer can, he can still give advice." Not even the Nazis would have used such grotesque language in public to a senior cleric.

What will become of Germany?
Having women work is seen as good by both business and the government, because it greatly increases the labor pool and therefore also increases revenue.

It also tends to reduce the birthrate, especially if daycare is subsidized, strongly encouraged, or made compulsary. Also, under this system, it encourages childbearing among those women who do not have much maternal attachment, which further weakens family life.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ordination of Institute of Christ the King Priests at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

On June 15th, 2007, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, His Grace, Raymond Leo Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis, will ordain two new priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The Institute is a Society of Apostolic Life that celebrates the sacraments of the Church according to the rites of 1962. For the past several years, Archbishop Burke has ordained the Institute's new priests at their seminary in Gricigliano, Italy; this will be the first time in the United States.

This ought to be a major event. Ordinations will take place in the presence of the Institute's Prior General, Monsignor Gilles Wach, and a large number of seminarians from Gricigliano. The Cathedral seats 2000, and there is also plenty of standing room.

For many more photos of the interior of this beautiful cathedral, please look at the photo index on the sidebar to the right.

Statue of Pope John Paul II, who restored the celebration of the old rites in 1988. This statue commemorates the late Pope's visit to Saint Louis in 1999.

Likely, many traditionally-minded Catholics and those who are attached to the celebration of the Mass in Latin will want to attend these ordinations.

Please email me (marcusscotus [at] sbcglobal {dot} net) if you are planning to come to Saint Louis to attend these ordinations. This would be a great opportunity for fellowship.

On March 7th, the Institute of Christ the King will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica. This will probably be the first Tridentine Mass there in decades. That date is the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the old liturgical calendar. See Saint Louis Catholic for details.
A view of the old high altar, at Saint Francis Xavier Church, at Saint Louis University.
Altar decorated for Lent at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, MissouriAltar decorated for Lent, at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.

A Strange Virus - UPDATE

There is a strange virus going around lately...nurses say that the doctors have no idea what it is, and pharmacists say that their prescription volume is now tremendous.

Symptoms include a hoarse cough, dizziness, and general wooziness, including memory loss.

Anyone been suffering from this?
This is actually a bacterial infection of the sinuses, treatable with antibiotics. As the infection goes into the inner ear, it causes lack of balance and dizziness. I've been told that this is a minor epidemic.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

First Signs of Spring

"Literary Forms of Medieval Philosophy"

I found this article, Literary Forms of Medieval Philosophy, at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

While modern philosophy very often is unreadable, Medieval philosophy has its own problems due to the large number of literary forms in which it is written, including Allegory, Axiom, Commentary, Dialogue, Disputation, Meditation, Soliloquy, Sentences, Sophismata, Insolubilia, Obligationes, and the Summa.

Classically, there were three ways of knowing, which include authority, reason, and experience. The article describes authority:
If there is one formal characteristic found in medieval philosophical texts of every relevant period and among all the religious affiliations of its practitioners, it is the citation of authoritative texts, whether scripture, Plato, Aristotle, or other revered teachers. To contemporary readers, such references seem to show a slavish deference to authority and lack of autonomy or originality in the writer. The explanation is of course a good deal more complex than that...
Medieval philosophy often tried very hard to harmonize varying authorities. They did this because the
...basic assumption is that these authorities are all seeking and attempting to express part of a single truth.
This is wildly at odds with modern philosophy, which agrees with Pilate in asking "What is truth?" They assume that people are vile and power hungry and therefore must not be trusted. The Medievals were far more generous, assuming that ancient philosophers were sincere in attempting to find the truth. Clearly, the modern method leads to ideologies and factionalism, while the Medieval method leads to a more universal understanding.

A common literary form used in the Middle Ages was allegory. This way of teaching spiritual truth via everyday stories is the method Christ used when he spoke in parables. Aesop's Fables are allegorical stories that teach moral truths.
The models for allegorical writings and allegorizing of traditional texts (allegoresis) come to the Middle Ages mostly through Neoplatonic sources. Neoplatonic writers developed allegorical readings of both Plato and classical literature, finding in these diverse texts the same spiritual journey from this world to the next. They also composed their own allegories on similar themes. The underlying presupposition of allegory is that things can come to stand for something else, an assumption based on the relationship of material things to the One from which they have emanated. Because things come from the One, they are fragmentary reflections of the fullness of that goodness. Philo brings this technique to the reading of Hebrew scripture, thus influencing Augustine's development of allegorical readings of scripture.
The use of the term 'allegory' here seems to be broader than how we normally use the word:
What is remarkable about these works is the combination of allegory with science and philosophy. These writers do not think of the mythic and the scientific as opposing discourses. Rather the creation of new myths is associated with the work of creation, linking the work of God as artifex with that of the composer of allegory. Science and allegory are also linked by the activity of de-allegorization, the process of extracting the abstract and philosophical message hidden in the allegory.
This type of writing was revived in 20th century English literature most famously by G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Their use of the term 'myth' does not mean a made-up fantastic story, but rather an artistic retelling of great truth in a form that is both symbolic and realistic.
The controversial and difficult question is why these medieval thinkers chose the allegorical form.
The controversy only started in the modern period, however. Ancient and Medieval writers
...cite the need to provide access through the senses to a non-sensible reality and the need to use obvious metaphors so that their language will not be taken for a literally true representation of the divine. In the secondary literature, the most common reason given for the allegorical form is that the allegory is an heuristic device that makes the difficult and abstract message easier to understand. On this view, the allegorical form can be stripped away without changing the meaning of the text.
After the end of the Middle Ages, and during the Reformation, reason and faith were divorced, leading to our current religion versus science debates. Also during this time, reason itself was sundered, leading to separation between scientific, materialistic rationality and intuitive thinking: modern science and occult esotericism developed at precisely the same time in history. This led in the Modern period to the novel esoteric interpretation of allegory, which includes the extremes of occult magic and elitist political opinion.
On this view, most famously propounded by Leo Strauss and his followers, writers fearing persecution and misinterpretation decided to "hide" their true views behind the façade of allegory, in order to protect both themselves and their message...

In practice, this means taking small inconsistencies and other discrepancies in the text as indicative of a deeper or hidden view, looking for the author's "real" views in the mouths of characters in a dialogue or allegory who are otherwise presented unfavorably, etc.
Leo Strauss is most known for being the major inspiration for the Neo-Conservative movement, which is often accused of having hidden motives. Also, this interpretation of allegory is widely used to argue that various theologians were actually secret arch-heretics, and is often found in modern occult and secularist writings.

Medieval literature has a richness, beauty, and clarity, lacking in modern realistic writing, that ought to be more often imitated.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Ash Wednesday

Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return. (Gen. 3. 19)

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. For a good compendium on Lent, see these several articles at Recta Ratio.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Natural Law

Under American law, you have the absolute right to put water into the gasoline tank of your automobile. However, under the natural law, if you do so, you will no longer have the freedom to drive your car, because in fact your car will no longer operate.

The current tendency in modern American law however, is to figuratively demand that you put water in your gasoline tank, with the same consequences.

The Evenstar and Crescent

The crescent moon and planet Venus were the symbols of the most Christian city of Constantinople. Photo taken tonight after sunset.

Presidents Day

Today the United States of America celebrates the anniversary of the birth of her first president, George Washington. There is much confusion over this holiday, so for clarity, please read here or here. Before 1971, there were separate commemorations for the birthdays of both President Lincoln and Washington. "Presidents Day", supposedly commemorating all of the American Presidents, is mainly a fiction made up by advertisers wanting a three-day shopping holiday. But anyway it is a good day to think about the American Republic and its relationship to religion.

Both religion and patriotism are moral requirements under the natural law as a matter of justice. These are moral virtues, and as such, we should expect to see these being observed among all moral peoples of all places and times. And therefore we should not be surprised that there is a close linkage between the virtues of patriotism and religion, and also their lack.

However, the moral virtue of religion is not to be confused with the theological virtue of faith, and this is easily seen in the actual external practice of religion of the American presidents. Certainly most of the early presidents practiced and encouraged the virtue of religion to their fellow countrymen in spite of little evidence of faith. This is most obvious with George Washington himself, who regularly attended Anglican (later called Episcopalian) church services, even attending in spite of much personal inconvenience. However, most evidence states that he did not receive communion (although he may have before the revolution), and even stopped attending communion services altogether. This of course would be consistent with his affiliation with Freemasonry and his adherence to Deism. It would appear, that as a man of conscience, Washington would not receive communion since the sign value of that would contradict the limits of his faith. That is in severe contrast with modern politicians who demand communion as a right, even though they appear not to have the faith.

Likewise, most of the early presidents were of the same mold as Washington: most supported religion, most attended church, and none until Benjamin Harrison (president from 1889 to 1893) could be considered faithful communicating Christians while in office. Stories of presidential deathbed conversions are mainly apocryphal.

It has always been a difficult matter for a Catholic deciding whether or not to support the principles of the American revolution and the American form of government. Here we have the breach between the Traditionalists and the Neo-Conservatives (or Neo-Liberals); both of which groups uneasily coexist together under the general title of "conservatives". Of course, much of the English speaking world is not American and mainly falls under the general rule of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. Very many of these Catholic Conservatives or Traditionalists do want to retain the Monarchy, and would dearly hope for the disestablishment of the Church of England in favor of the Catholic Faith. However, a Catholic may support secular republics to varying degrees, and while it is the tendency for Neo-Conservatives to falsely think that the American form of government is ideal, this kind of secularity is certainly supportable, even if it isn't perfect. It has been said as long ago as the 1950s that Catholics will be the final supporters of the traditional American style of government, and that now certainly appears to be true.

Catholic thinking, while indeed preferring a confessional State, and having little problem with monarchy, has long experience with the republican form of government and early rejected absolutism and the notion of the divine right of kings. However, there is no ideal Catholic government and we always need to keep in mind the distinction made by Saint Augustine between the City of Man and the City of God. Attempts to create a Heaven on Earth are certainly doomed to hellish failure.

A measure of secularity in government has long been viewed as neccessary, since faith cannot be imposed by force (although religion certainly has been imposed), however no faithful Catholic can support the notion of secularism in government. There is a fine line here: we do not want churches full of committed nonbelievers nor do we want unbelief to be officially supported by the State. Likewise, it is a moral imperative that one follows one's conscience (like Washington refusing communion) while also there is a grave necessity for a person to carefully form their own conscience and influence the formation of conscience of dependents.

A common problem in America is State idolatry. Especially since we have no Established Church, the State itself is seen as a church, especially among some nationalistic liberal reformers. This goes beyond patriotism. Instead, a prior claim of faith is needed for someone to be a good patriot.

The Church has nearly always coexisted with other religions, and has traditionally made wide allowance for other cults, and so generally allowed a measure of explicit tolerance for Jews, Muslims, or pagans, especially during the Middle Ages, although certainly she never believed in total freedom of religion. Greater intolerance generally started after the Reformation, when religion was widely imposed by force. The American system of government still has the seeds of the pre-Enlightenment natural law morality that tolerates other religion, and indeed this land was fertile soil for the spread and growth of Catholicism.

The American revolution turned out fairly well, unlike the liberal revolutions that followed in Europe and Latin America. Those revolutions were extremely bloody and highly irreligious, and no man of faith could support them. However, we can, with good faith, support our traditional form of government against totalitarianism.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

BAPTISMAL FONT at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

"Form Follows Function"

FORM EVER FOLLOWS FUNCTION, said Louis Sullivan, the founder of modern architecture, in his 1896 article "The tall office building artistically considered". Sullivan later dropped the word "ever" in his dictum, giving us the familiar 3-F rule: form follows function. This rule has been used as an excuse to make endless rows of ugly nondescript buildings that have blighted urban areas worldwide, and even to strip the iconography and sign value from our very churches.

As Cardinal Newman stated, to go deep into history is to cease being Protestant, and likewise if we go deep into architectural history, we find that Sullivan was no modernist.

With a name like Louis Henri Sullivan, one would expect to find a Catholic, who would be almost certainly steeped in its culture of fine art serving higher things. Alas, I find no evidence of any religious upbringing in his short online biographies. He did some fine church designs, though. However, his background certainly did not lead him to the then-fashionable nihilistic or utilitarian philosophies, but instead led to more transcendental things.

In his article, Sullivan describes the forces which both necessitate and allow for the design of tall office buildings:
Let us state the conditions in the plainest manner. Briefly, they are these: offices are necessary for the transaction of business; the invention and perfection of the high-speed elevators make vertical travel, that was once tedious and painful, now easy and comfortable, development of steel manufacture has shown the way to safe, rigid, economical constructions rising to a great height; continued growth of population in the great cities, consequent congestion of centers and rise in value of ground, stimulate an increase in number of stories; these successfully piled one upon another, react on ground values;-and so on, by action and reaction, interaction and inter-reaction. Thus has come about the form of lofty construction called the "modern office building." It has come in answer to a call, for in it a new grouping of social conditions has found a habitation and a name.

Up to this point all in evidence is materialistic, an exhibition of force, of resolution, of brains in the keen sharp sense of the word. It is the joint product of the speculator, the engineer, the builder.
So far his description is quite modern and utilitarian. Imagine a modern designer with similar mind-set, who makes a utilitarian meeting-hall and calls it a church. Sullivan, however, is more subtle:
Problem: How shall we impart to this sterile pile, this crude, harsh, brutal agglomeration, this stark, staring exclamation of eternal strife, the graciousness of those higher forms of sensibility and culture that rest on the lower and fiercer passions? How shall we proclaim from the dizzy height of this strange, weird, modern housetop the peaceful evangel of sentiment, of beauty, the cult of a higher life?
Sullivan here proves himself to be no modernist. The final, foul spawn of architectural modernism could perhaps be best seen in the style of Brutalism, which withered in the early 1970s; these buildings could appropriately be called crude, harsh, brutal, and stark. Sullivan instead proposes bringing to the building trade the good news of fine sentiment, beauty, peace, and higher things over the low passions.

Sullivan proposes a method of finding a solution to this problem:
It is my belief that it is of the very essence of every problem that it contains and suggests its own solution. This I believe to be natural law. Let us examine, then, carefully the elements, let us search out this contained suggestion, this essence of the problem.
No modernist will talk about the natural law or of essences, for he would deny that they even exist. Sullivan goes on to distinguish the lower stories of a building, used for retail establishments, and the attic, used for mechanical purposes, with the office block itself; hence, the skyscraper should naturally have a three-fold order of base, shaft, and capital.
We must now heed the imperative voice of emotion.

It demands of us, What is the chief characteristic of the tall office building? And at once we answer, it is lofty. This loftiness is to the artist-nature its thrilling aspect. It is the very open organ-tone in its appeal. It must be in turn the dominant chord in his expression of it, the true excitant of his imagination. It must be tall, every inch of it tall. The force and power of altitude must be in it the glory and pride of exaltation must be in it. It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line,-that it is the new, the unexpected, the eloquent peroration of most bald, most sinister, most forbidding conditions.

The man who designs in this spirit and with the sense of responsibility to the generation he lives in must be no coward, no denier, no bookworm, no dilettante. He must live of his life and for his life in the fullest, most consummate sense. He must realize at once and with the grasp of inspiration that the problem of the tall office building is one of the most stupendous, one of the most magnificent opportunities that the Lord of Nature in His beneficence has ever offered to the proud spirit of man.
Perhaps there is a bit of prideful ambition here, but note that Sullivan ascribes all this ultimately to God's grace.

Sullivan discusses several theories for the three-part division of a tall office building: either it is to based on a classical column, or perhaps it is linked with number mysticism, since we often see the number three strangely linked, as in the three transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty, or in the beauty of prime numbers, of the natural ordering of beginning, middle, and end, or root, trunk, and leaves of a plant, or even in the mysterious threefold nature of divinity. Some think that a tall building should be a uniform whole (such as the Modernists ended up making), but most certainly a tall building should not appear to be a pile of separate buildings, one upon the other, but rather an organic whole, even if composed of parts. Sullivan, however, has a different theory, which we will discuss later.
All things in nature have a shape, that is to say, a form, an outward semblance, that tells us what they are, that distinguishes them from ourselves and from each other.
Sullivan here betrays a kind Aristotelian philosophy: the form of a thing is what makes a thing a member of its species. Indeed, an office building ought to look like an office building (and I might add, a church ought to look like a church)! Modern thinking tends to place emphasis on material and efficient causes: what things are made of and how they were made is given emphasis. We see this when we are told that a modern building must be made with modern methods and modern materials.
Unfailingly in nature these shapes express the inner life, the native quality, of the animal, tree, bird, fish, that they present to us; they are so characteristic, so recognizable, that we say simply, it is "natural" it should be so. Yet the moment we peer beneath this surface of things, the moment we look through the tranquil reflection of ourselves and the clouds above us, down into the clear, fluent, unfathomable depth of nature, how startling is the silence of it, how amazing the flow of life, how absorbing the mystery! Unceasingly the essence of things is taking shape in the matter of things, and this unspeakable process we call birth and growth. Awhile the spirit and the matter fade away together, and it is this that we call decadence, death. These two happenings seem jointed and interdependent, blended into one like a bubble and its iridescence, and they seem borne along upon a slowly moving air. This air is wonderful past all understanding.

Yet to the steadfast eye of one standing upon the shore of things, looking chiefly and most lovingly upon that side on which the sun shines and that we feel joyously to be life, the heart is ever gladdened by the beauty, the exquisite spontaneity, with which life seeks and takes on its forms in an accord perfectly responsive to its needs. It seems ever as though the life and the form were absolutely one and inseparable, so adequate is the sense of fulfillment.
Here Sullivan equates the form of a thing with the life of a thing, which is also Aristotelian: the soul of a living being is identified with its form, or design, and it is what animates the unliving material. They are one and the same.
Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies in a twinkling.

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.
Here we come to Sullivan's famous dictum, but it hardly seems modernist in context. Indeed, it is merely a truism, and not a design philosophy at all. Form follows function is a teleological statement which merely states that the form, or design of a building, needs to reflect its intended purpose, or final cause, or goal. The function of a roof is to shed rainwater and to withstand the weight of snow and the forces of the wind, and its form should follow this purpose. To someone grounded in classical philosophy, this is commonsensical. Sullivan states that his tripartite design of office towers follows directly from the purposes of the various parts of the building: the form follows naturally from its purpose.

A teleological theory flies in the face of modern Darwinist theory, which would deny the possibility of purposes, and instead emphasize the random nature of success of failure where function is determined by random form. Sullivan's theory is instead one of intelligent design, where the architect uses his intellect to form material to fit a purpose.

Form follows function then seems to be merely a critical theory: one would rightly criticize a roof that was perforated with holes if the intent of the roof was to exclude the rain. However, modern architects took this dictum to be a design guideline, and an excuse to strip an edifice of all ornament and decorative detail, and indeed to strip it of any beauty whatsoever. For the modernists, following Kant, thought that beauty should not even be a consideration in art. Also, following Hegel, modern architects took the phrase "form follows function" to mean total artistic freedom, without regard to the desires and wishes of the client and users. And finally, modernist "functionality" often isn't even related to the natural law, but instead on esoteric or Marxist theories, and often produce buildings that are hardly functional at all.

But Sullivan himself had rather loftier goals for the design of these new tall office buildings:
And thus the design of the tall office building takes its place with all other architectural types made when architecture, as has happened once in many years, was a living art. Witness the Greek temple, the Gothic cathedral, the mediaeval fortress.
He thought that the architecture of tall office buildings should be the peer to the Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals! What mighty comparisons! With his own buildings, he may have at least partially succeeded; but for his modernist followers, they have failed miserably.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Catholic Blog Awards

Voting is now open.

Photos of Saint Cecilia Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Here are photos of Saint Cecilia Church, located in the City of Saint Louis about 6-1/2 road miles southwest of downtown, and less than a mile from the banks of the Mississippi River.

The parish dates from 1906, and its Romanesque-style church was completed in 1927. The architect was Henry P. Hess (1884-1957), who worked for three years under William B. Ittner; Hess also designed the Rosati-Kain High School, the old Christian Brothers College High School building on Clayton Road (now owned by the Lutheran Concordia Seminary), the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, All Saints in University City, Immaculate Conception in Maplewood, as well as other churches. Hess' firm is now known as LePique & Orne Architects, which still does work for the Archdiocese. The design of this church was inspired by the nearby Saint Anthony of Padua parish.

This was a mixed German and Irish parish at its founding. It now is one of seven archdiocesan parishes that has a Hispanic ministry.

The stained glass windows were executed by Emil Frei, Sr. (1869-1942); his descendants still run Emil Frei Associates, and have worked locally and nationally. Mosaics are by the Ravenna Mosaic Company, which also did the interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The columns are of polished stone.

The main altar.

Mosaic of Saint Cecilia, Roman martyr (beheaded ca. A.D. 117) holding a small pipe organ. Cecilia is patroness of church music.

The tabernacle.

Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary; note the gold mosaics in the background.

Altar of Saint Joseph.

Saint Juan Diego with Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

A view to the back of the church. The Wicks organ dates from 1928, and has 23 ranks with over 1500 pipes.

A confessional.

Masses are in English and Spanish.

5418 Louisiana Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63111


Daniel Mitsui has a two-part article on the loss of religious iconography in art and patristic understanding of scripture, and what can be done about it.
Many Roman Catholic traditionalists are understandably nervous about any advocacy of a return to more ancient principles in ecclesiastical tradition, because they have seen such arguments dishonestly applied by modernists and iconoclasts of the last half-century. Wishing to protect whatever has survived of Roman Catholic tradition, they suspiciously view it as the sort of archaeologism condemned by Pius XII....

The surest guide to knowing these principles is the witness of the Church Fathers. When Christians emerged from the catacombs to openly profess their faith without the constraints imposed by persecution, they formulated the truths that they had received from the Apostles in dogma, liturgy, monachism, exegesis, mysticism, and iconography. It has been a universal conviction of the Catholic Church, magisterially expressed countless times, to accord the Church Fathers a qualitatively superior authority to later thinkers on these matters. Continuity with them is an essential element of authentic Christianity, because it is continuity with the Apostles.

Yet their principles have been so widely neglected in contemporary Roman Catholicism that a sanctified appreciation for divine worship, a deference to patristic witness; a didactic and traditional iconography with arrangement and content dictated by their exegesis; and a devotion animated by the same mentality are often considered peculiarities of the Orthodox East. They are not; they are the inheritance of the entire apostolic Church....

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Photos of Saint Raymond's Maronite Cathedral, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Here are photos of Saint Raymond's Maronite Cathedral, located on the southern edge of downtown Saint Louis. This is the Cathedral for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of the Maronite Catholic Church, and has authority over Maronites in 38 western U.S. states. The Eparchy was founded in 1994 in Los Angeles, California, and moved to Saint Louis in 2001. The Maronite Church is one of the 23 Churches sui iuris (that is, self-governing) that make up the Catholic Church.

Last Friday, February 9th, the Cathedral celebrated the feast day of Saint John Maron; he became Bishop in A.D. 676, and with the approval of Pope Sergius I, was appointed Patriarch of Antioch and all of the East in about A.D. 685. John took the name 'Maron' from the hermit-priest Saint Maron (died A.D. 410) who founded a community that eventually became known as the Maronites. Eventually in conflict with the Byzantine emperor, John and the Maronites fled Syria and settled in the stronghold of Mount Lebanon, where they formed into a distinctive nation and Church. In other calendars, the feast of Saint John Maron is March 2nd and formerly was March 9th.

The church was built in 1975, and became a Cathedral in 2001.

Shrine of Saint Raymond (Mar Romanus). His feast day is November 18th, he was martyred in Syria in A.D. 304.

The altar.

The tabernacle.

Holy oils and a relic.

Saint Charbel (1828-1898), hermit in the mountains of Lebanon. He died on Christmas Eve after reciting the Father of Truth prayer, from the Maronite liturgy.

according to the
Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church

See also this link to Maronite music.

The Maronite pastoral center dates from 2002, and contains the offices of the Eparchy. The Cathedral also features The Cedars banquet hall, which hosts an excellent buffet on Wednesdays.

939 Lebanon Drive
Saint Louis, Missouri 63104