For your Brick by Brick file.

And example of what young priests can do when they have a chance.

A chapel at a school: before and after.


Our “worship spaces” don’t have to be ugly.

Our churches and chapels reflect what we believe (or at least what the designers believed, if anything).  But they also shape our belief.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Legisperitus says:

    Great improvement! The tabernacle and crucifix right in the center, instead of tucked away in the shadows. Quite inviting. And the prie-dieu as a makeshift rail is a good thought.

  2. Mary Jane says:

    Beautiful! Much improved. The tabernacle is now where it should be.

  3. Ocampa says:

    Churches like the top say, “I’m going to put Jesus in a dark corner, but I’ll put his picture front and center.” It would be like a man keeping a picture of his beloved as his cell phone background, but ignoring the real woman in favor of his favorite apps. Neither the image of Christ nor the wife are wrong, but we mustn’t prefer the copy over the real thing.

  4. bushboar says:

    Much better.

    I read someplace that celebrating the Novus Ordo on an altar with a tabernacle is prohibited. Is this true?

  5. AMS says:

    Definitely a great improvement. The changes themselves weren’t numerous but they were significant.

  6. Alexander says:

    Nice job! I always like to see before and after pictures where churches become more reverent. When inside one, it’s hard not to think about how a sad 1970’s church can be improved. I find these architects really inspirational:

  7. yatzer says:

    Great use of adding some color, and Jesus front and center, not back in the shadows somewhere.

  8. acardnal says:

    Big improvement!

  9. Suudy says:

    “Our ‘worship spaces’ don’t have to be ugly.”

    Indeed! To that point, in the First Things podcast (2/27, “Spirit and Form”) they talk with Matthew Schmitz about his article in the Catholic Herald. I can’t remember who in the podcast made the point, but the hypothetical was this. Say there are two churches on opposite sides of the tracks. One is painted in drab colors, the churchyard is a simple lawn, has simple decorations and rustic furniture, the altar is bare, and the tabernacle is made of simple materials. The church on the other side is brightly painted, statuary present throughout the yard, the windows are colorful stained class, and the interior is lavishly decorated.

    Which is the church full of the poor and for the poor?

  10. scotus says:

    Is it the case that the steps up to the altar have been removed and the altar is now at ground level?

  11. visigrad says:

    Scotus…..I do not think the steps were removed.. looks as though the photo was just taken closer to the altar.

  12. un-ionized says:

    The second pic is from a slightly higher elevation too.

  13. Volanges says:

    bushboar— As I read the documents it’s allowed but not recommended or preferred. This is what the GIRM says:

    315. It is more appropriate as a sign that on an altar on which Mass is celebrated there not be a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.(128)
    Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the
    judgement of the Diocesan Bishop:
    a. either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a appropriate form and place, not excluding its being positioned on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. no. 303);
    b. or even in some chapel suitable for the private adoration and prayer of the faithful (129) and organically connected to the church and readily noticeable by the Christian faithful.

    128 & 129 refer to 1967’s Eucharisticum Mysterium # 53 & 55 (I’ve included 54)

    53. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel
    The place in a church or oratory where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle should be truly prominent. It ought to be suitable for private prayer so that the faithful may easily and fruitfully, by private devotion also, continue to honor our Lord in this sacrament.114 It is therefore recommended that, as far as possible, the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the middle or central part of the church, above all in those churches where marriages and funerals take place frequently and in places which are much visited for their artistic or historical treasures.

    54. The Tabernacle in the Middle of the Altar or in Some Other Part of the Church
    “The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a solid, inviolable tabernacle in the middle of the main altar or on a secondary altar, but in a truly prominent place. Alternatively, according to legitimate customs and in individual cases to be decided by the local Ordinary, it may be placed in some other part of the church which is really worthy and properly equipped.

    “Mass may be celebrated facing the people even though there is a tabernacle on the altar, provided this is small yet adequate.”115

    55. A Tabernacle on an Altar where Mass is Celebrated with a Congregation
    In the celebration of Mass the principal modes of worship by which Christ is present to His Church116 are gradually revealed. First of all, Christ is seen to be present among the faithful gathered in His name; then in his Word, as the Scriptures are read and explained; in the person of the minister; finally and in a unique way (modo singular) under the species of the Eucharist. Consequently, because of the sign, it is more in keeping with the nature of the celebration that the Eucharistic presence of Christ, which is the fruit of the consecration and should be seen as such, should not be on the altar from the very beginning of Mass through the reservation of the sacred species in the tabernacle.

  14. iamlucky13 says:

    Very good start, most importantly with providing an appropriate place of honor for the tabernacle. I hope they’re able to continue making gradual improvements over time. I think there’s even more the pastor, or perhaps even better, appreciative alumni, can do to continue to improve the sacred character of the chapel.

    As I read about the histories of some of the great cathedrals of Europe like St. Peter’s or the Duomo of Florence that inspired St. Peter’s dome, the idea of a church being “finished” has started to seem mistaken to me.

    As we should keep growing and improving spiritually, I think it’s likewise worthy to try to continue to make our churches and chapels progressively better and better spaces for worship…or to progressively reverse the damage done by others. Even with the resources of the Vatican States to provide ample skilled labor and high quality materials, Bernini spent 50 years on the interior of St. Peter’s, and he was not the only contributor.

  15. Legisperitus says:

    It seems there was an intermediate step of adding some lights above the tabernacle’s former location… maybe they’ll add some statuary there later.

Comments are closed.