Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Listening to a "silent" church. A Benedictine oblate blog.

The art, designs, forms, and symbols in the interior of a church are a language that speaks to those who enter. See the blog The Silent Sanctuary Speaks I wrote a few days ago.

This language of art and designs — which is mostly unknown to me — spoke of four functions. At least that is what I thought I could hear murmuring as I sat on the pew and looked around at the cool church before the monks came in for the Divine Office.


The interior of the church contained pictures of angels and I recalled Psalm 91 which is part of Compline Divine Office and that wonderful verse, “For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

I knew that these visual stories were intended to help strengthen me and carry me in safety.


I sometimes look at a stained-glass window and the book or an animal or container it depicts along side the saint.

If I have a general idea of what the scene is about, I will do some study to learn about the major themes in that saint’s life and I can sometimes learn more about what work of God is being shown and that I should have readily in my mind.

It is exciting to try to solve the mystery of what’s being shown in the stained-glass window.

If this interests you and you want to help my current mystery, I think the stained-glass window at the top of this post is St. Benedict at the cave of Subiaco, the bread on the rope is from monk Romanus who supplied Benedict out of Romanus’ own allowance. The bell is so that St. Benedict will know the bread is there. I think the bird and the cross tell the story of when Benedict was assailed by temptation.

But what is the blue jar or vase? And I think there is an hour glass? Is the hour glass for knowing when to pray the liturgy of the hours?

I think the stained glass window’s scene is from Chapters 1 and 2 of “The Life of Our Most Holy Father Saint Benedict,” by Pope Saint Gregory the Great.

Here are some beautiful pictures of the Subiaco cave.


The cloud of witnesses and acts of God spoken of by the church’s interior help me shed the anxieties of the world, the interior of the church holds my heart and mind on God. I have found no place better than the interior of a silent yet speaking church for this important part of prayer.


Liturgy — public acts of worship — are aided by the language of the art, forms, and designs in the church — like a choir singing.

I miss going to the abbey church. Maybe I can go next week.


  1. Oh aye; Cassian is a gooder. Love the photo of St. Leo Abbey and the walk to the Grotto.

    Tis all about balance as in every thing. I have found when I am upset that I can reach the Calm of Jesus by simply offering up my aches, distractions and worries as an oblation. They all simply fall away when I offer them up.

  2. Thank you, yes I agree balance is a foundational monastic principle.

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