Have you ever thought about where our focus ought to be during liturgy? The short answer is “well, God, obviously.” But that begs the question then: how do we keep that focus? If you walk into and pre-1960’s Roman Catholic church, you will most likely find yourself met with beautiful stone work, vibrant stained glass windows, detailed frescos, a huge pipe organ, ornate statues, and most importantly, a thought provoking crucifix hung above the tabernacle… where that little red lamp tells you that He is present.
So why, in the modern age, is it so hard to find God within a church, and likewise within the liturgy?
A lack of beauty.
In the scenario above it would be near impossible for a soul (that is not devoid of God, of course) to NOT find Him in one of these churches, and moreover in the liturgy celebrated there. Every aspect of a beautiful basilica is planned out with so much care and detail as to orient any person’s mind and heart to heaven as soon as his foot crosses the threshold of the door.
Now, onto the picture above. If you look closely, the focus in the picture is neither on the tabernacle nor fully on our Dear Lord on the crucifix. The focus falls slightly behind the crucifix onto a very small portion of the stained glass behind it. This was initially a mistake, but I realized that there is beauty in that. Why? Because it reminds us that even when our focus isn’t entirely of God during liturgy, and we’ve missed focus like I have in this photo, there is always something to bring it back around. In a well designed, beautiful church, there will always be something beautiful that will bring our focus back to the Almighty.
This leads me on to my original purpose for this photo – the tabernacle. You see, any person who looks at this photo will immediately recognize that our Lord is hanging on the cross. Fewer will recognize that also in frame is the tabernacle, out of focus but not out of mind, where our Blessed Lord is always hiding in plain sight.