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Confessionals Out, Pagan Art Gallery In

Oh boy. I don't even know where to start with this one. This story is just a microcosm of so much that's wrong with so many of our "Catholic" universities. The Jesuit run University of San Francisco has removed a number of confessionals and replaced them with a "pagan" art gallery.

Yup. You read that right. And they say they're doing it as a "testament to St. Ignatius of Loyola." You know the St. Ignatius whose Exercises state:

In consequence, having made a better Confession and being better disposed, one finds himself in condition and prepared to receive the Blessed Sacrament: the reception of which is an aid not only not to fall into sin, but also to preserve the increase of grace.
Yeah. Good ol' Iggy didn't talk much about the benefit of gawking at pagan art before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. But maybe it was implied.

You know it's one thing to rip out the confessional. It's another to blame St. Ignatius for it.

The great California Catholic Daily writes:
On November 3, 2008, the online newsletter of the Jesuit California province announced the opening of an art gallery in the eastern alcove of St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco.

Said the newsletter, “St. Ignatius Church, a Jesuit parish in San Francisco, celebrated the opening of its new Manresa Gallery on September 18. Formed by four interior alcoves, which previously housed confessional boxes, the gallery is a permanent testament to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Composition of Place… In keeping with Ignatius’ understanding that his Constitutions or governing rules for Jesuits would include old principles and new ones, the gallery’s philosophy is to include both traditional religious works and contemporary art in a series of changing exhibitions. Commissioned pieces will enhance the dialogue that take places on a larger scale within the ritual space of the church. Manresa Gallery is open on Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. and by appointment.” The article was written by James R. Blaettler, S.J., Associate Pastor of St. Ignatius.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go to St. Ignatius to take a look for myself. While the museum was closed, I was able to look through the windows to get a glimpse of what’s inside. It was a surprising experience to find an art gallery inside a Catholic Church. It became even stranger when the art displayed was not Christian, but pagan.
Firstly, who calls them "confessional boxes?" Maybe they wanted to make them sound unpleasant like some sort of tool used in the Inquisition?

The exhibition is called “The Arts of Java and Bali: Objects of Belief, Ritual and Performance.” So now instead of a confessional you've got a "hermaphroditic wooden figurine, with female breasts and a male erection. Another is a hairy demonic figure with a women’s face protruding from its mouth. Another is a brightly colored, scaled, demonic figure."

Confused? Don't worry. Fr. James R. Blaettler, S.J., Associate Pastor of St. Ignatius is here to explain it all. Ready?
Fr. Blaettler said, the motivation was to “enhance the dialogue that take places on a larger scale within the ritual space of the church.
I don't even know what that means. I honestly don't.

Now to be completely fair the church still retains one confessional. But I'd bet it doesn't see a lot of use. Why would it when the school is sending the message to the students that hermaphroditic wooden figurines are more important than a confessional?

HT A Woman's Place

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Al said...

Does this surprize me?? NO!!!!! This is the same university that was found to be provinding abortion coverage in its insurance as well as referals for them at their clinic.

Bad Catholic said...

What did Pope Paul VI say? Something to the effect that the Smoke of Satan has entered the sacred precincts of the Church . . .

Subvet said...

What knucklehead puts an art gallery inside of a church?

Yeah, it's a stupid question but the coffee is still brewing and I'm not fully awake.

Tammy said...

I'm speechless! Really, I just dumbfounded.

Christina said...

I'm reminded of a quote by Chesterton

"It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say "[enhance the dialogue that takes place on a larger scale within the ritual space of the church]," you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin "[Add one more cause for men to talk in Church]," you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think."

Hilltop said...

For so many (admittedly not all) Jesuits, the Church is merely a millieau for personal exploration and individual expression. The traditional Jesuit inquisitiveness has been twisted and reduced to Jesuit "questioning". For folks like this, the church building is a "ritual space" only and is therefore able to house and display "works of art" that address all types of "ritual" while publicly demonstrating the dazzling questioning ability of today's Jesuit - all with the goal of "enhancing dialogue".
This thinking demeans the Church Herself and damages the true nature of the church building. Displays like this have the effect -intended or otherwise- of presenting the already present Crucifix as just another of the "ritual works of art" on display and Christ as just yet another idol. Might as well dust off the infamous "Piss Christ" and display it too. We can be sure that much dialogue would ensue - thereby enhancing Jesuit prestige. All this in the name of Ignatius!
I am dazzled, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

I do know something about art, and this ain't it.

-- Mack

Anonymous said...

"Dialogue." Oh. OK. Yes. Indeed.

Have you all seen the 'winners' of the "Faith & Form/IFRAA" interfaith religious art and architecture 2009 competition?

This is the grand prize winner in art...


I overheard a bit of dialogue from this award winner -- "The gas station called and they want their oil can display racks back."

For those who havent heard of it, this annual award program is for installed art and built church architecture. The prize selection jury is chaired by the well known (to CMR and others) Richard Vosko.

Read the unbelievably shallow and relativistic jury comments which to me are worse than the art and architecture....see comments and slideshow at http://www.faithnform.com/awards/2009winners/index.php

Dialogue that.

John Hetman said...

Fr. Blaettler said, the motivation was to “enhance the dialogue that take places on a larger scale within the ritual space of the church.
I don't even know what that means. I honestly don't.

Neither does Father Blaettler. So don't feel badly.

William said...

I, for one, am excited about this development. I always thought that table smack dab in the middle of the Church could use some flower arrangements, and what's with that box that always has the red light next to it? Why not get rid of that and replace it with a Plasma TV looping Lady Gaga videos. That'd be sooo much more interesting, especially since everyone just seems to keep reading from some old, boring book half the time.

Rick said...

The good American Jesuits have gone abroad into the missions. Those who remained are spoiled bachelors who continue to scandalize the faithful. They should just leave the order, get married and work for a living for a change. Maybe, they can make up for the harm that they have caused.

Anonymous said...

"Ritual space"???

Is this how he views it? They're only going through rituals...like reading the paper and having a cup o joe as a morning ritual?

My confirmation saint must be rolling in his...cloud.

Anonymous said...

No offense to Fr. Mitch Pacwa, I hope.

Anonymous said...

The Jesuits who support O should drive to the dessert, dig a hole, jump in and stick a shot gun in their mouths.

Emily said...

Ironic that the "Gallery" is open Sundays 2-5, no?

Blackrep said...

No more confessional boxes? Just where are the Jesuits going to propoposition young male students now, I wonder?

And I believe that the official name for the confessional boxes is "pre-Vatican II prayer device." At least that's how they named them in my old parish. Which is why it is now my old parish.

Dakota said...

I recall that the Society of Jesus was, in part, formed to combat the heresy of Protestantism. It would seem that many modern Jesuits have adopted an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.

Anonymous said...

Is Father Mitch the last Jesuit who isn't nuts?

nightfly said...

Jesuits really are amazing... creating a ritual space inside a church! Revolutionary!

Or, say, here's a thought - a Catholic Church already is a ritual space. How about promoting and defending and explaining our own rituals to the students, instead of desecrating a church?

Lee Gilbert said...

Once I read a life of an English martyr who when housed in someone's country estate put his fist through a stained glass window depiction of Mars and Venus in flagrante delicto on the grounds that it was indecent.

I'm just saying...

romishgraffiti said...

Once I read a life of an English martyr who when housed in someone's country estate put his fist through a stained glass window depiction of Mars and Venus in flagrante delicto on the grounds that it was indecent.

I seem to recall Our Lord doing a little rearranging of the "ritual space".

Just saying...

P. Button said...

Even an atheist would be able to recognize how stupid this is. I can't believe that priests did this.

Anonymous said...

I'm having some very bad (involving violence) thoughts directed at phony priests...but I can't seem to find a confessional !!!

Smiley said...

You know what kills me, i rediscovered my catholic faith becasue of the Jesuits who taught me in University in india. I was so amazed to see the work that they did and thier spiritual life that i decided to join them. Oh boy 1 year in prenovitiate was a shocker. I heard the oddest things ever, i left. I pray that this order will return to the spirit of its founder St Ignatius and the missionary spirit of St Francis Xavier both who whom i really love.

Anonymous said...

the Jesuits were once, by and large, a holy group of men who understood and believed their faith. Ergo, through them, the Holy Spirit (not they) converted many.

Satanic forces arrayed against them, and subsequently only individiuals (i.e. Fr. Fessio and Fr. Pacwa) have held the battle ground.
(mind you; that's how God works: soul by soul).
Please understand that I live/work/know another apostate Jesuit University: Seattle U. Quite simply, Rick, it wan't the spoiled bachelors who derailed the formation of many a good Jesuit. It was the lure of sodomy. Homosexual sins have carved a huge swath of destruction and weakened what used to be strong fighting army.
May God help them as well as us.


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