Building Churches

Henry Adams tells us in his
that he could not get an education
in America,
because education implies
unity of thought
and there is no unity of
thought in America.
So he went to England
and found that England
was too much like America.
So he went to France
and found that France
was too much like England and America.
But in France he found the
Cathedral of Chartres
and from the Cathedral of
Chartres he learned
that there was unity of thought
in thirteenth-century France.

People who built the Cathedral
of Chartres
knew how to combine
cult, that is to say liturgy,
with culture, that is to say philosophy,
and cultivation, that is to say agriculture.

The Cathedral of Chartres is
a real work of art
because it is the real expression
of the spirit of a united people.
Churches that are built today
do not express the spirit of the people.
“When a church is built,”
a Catholic editor said to me,
“the only thing that has news value is:
How much did it cost?”
The Cathedral of Chartres was not built
to increase the value of real estate.
The Cathedral of Chartres was not built
with money borrowed from money lenders.

The Cathedral of Chartres was not built
by workers working for wages.

Maurice Barres used to worry
about the preservation of
French Cathedrals,
but Charles Peguy thought
that the faith that builds Cathedrals
is after all the thing that matters.
Moscow had a thousand churches
and people lost the faith.
Churches ought to be built
with donated money, donated
material, donated labor.

The motto of St. Benedict was
Laborare et Orare, Labor and Pray.
Labor and prayer ought to be combined;
labor ought to be a prayer.
The liturgy of the Church
is the prayer of the Church.
People ought to pray with the Church
and to work with the Church.
The religious life of the people
and the economic life of the people
ought to be one.
I heard that in Germany
a group of Benedictines
is trying to combine liturgy
with sociology.
We don’t need to wait for Germany
to point the way,
Architects, artists and artisans
ought to exchange ideas
on Catholic liturgy and Catholic sociology.