Flesh and Stone

First dispatch from France, adapted from Xanga.

Know the Time

In Paris, the ‘new bridge’ across the Seine (Pont Neuf) is from the 17th century. Yeah, that’s my sense of time. I knew I wasn’t from this century.

The parish churches – not the cathedral, but the parish churches (not only in Paris but even in Bagneux) – have flying buttresses. And they’re twice the size of CFC Berkeley. And the pulpits are real pulpits. And the organs remind me of beams of light coming down from heaven. And the vaults soar to the vast heights above. Yes, I want to worship inside places like these, or at least something less boring than churches with ceiling tiles.

I wish I could have taken everyone with me to see these things. I, of course, would still be the slowest viewer, but one really must take something like these papist churches, rather than your typical American low-church church, as the default mode in order to have a real respect for history and tradition in the Church, as we, joined to Christ, are part of the same Church as that of the apostles, not of any new Church.

Was our church built but a few months ago? Yet our Church – nay, Christ’s holy Kirk – was founded almost two millennia ago by the Rock of Ages, who is from everlasting to everlasting.

Meaning in the Matter

A church building should naturally instil the reverence due to age. And sometimes, you really don’t have to play the contextualization game because there’s just something in the atmosphere that says ‘be still’ and ‘let all mortal flesh keep silence’, even when you’re trying to take pictures to capture it in crystallized, ‘written’ form. Sure, one may be vulgar and think only of opulence, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees. The value’s in the Christ’s halo, not in the gold.

Ironically, the more you see the stone for ‘what it is’ – to wit, ‘just stone’ – the more your spirituality is removed from the world: the more you attempt to affirm physicality by itself, the more you actually destroy it by removing it from the Creator and sending it to your mental hell. This is what they do who are godless: by recognizing only the material as ‘real’, they finally destroy what they seem to exalt, leaving nothing but emptiness. And they who belong to Christ imitate them!

Of course the creation is other from the Creator, but through the Word have all things come into being, and through him do all things hold their being. Sacramentality as a principle is what denies both pantheism/panentheism and atheism.

You know I could say the same thing, even more justly, about the water of death and resurrection. But Christ calls us to be in the world,

For he himself into the world is come
To save the Church of which he is the sum,
And all the world which now is saddled down,
By sin’s dread curse and Satan’s power bound.

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10 responses to “Flesh and Stone

  1. This is beautiful.

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  2. Lue-Yee, you are an eloquent man.

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  3. buttress is a silly word. flying buttresses is a silly fragment. because it has the word “butt” in it. i simply cannot imagine something beautiful because of it haha.

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  4. glad that you are enjoying Parisian living =]

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  5. Hi, Lue-Yee Tsang.

    We are glad having you in our humble church.

    Indeed Paris has amazing church buildings, and you will see later if you travel around France, some church buildings are breathtaking in the south as well as in the east.

    Yet you visit our small Christian community in our humble building (building, I say? it is most a “basement”). You are right: “Christ’s holy Kirk was founded almost two millennia ago by the Rock of Ages, who is from everlasting to everlasting” and our humble basement is part of it.

    Soit la bienvenue parmis nous en FRANCE.

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