Art and Design Follows Liturgical Guidelines
By Louise Brass, Observer Correspondent
April 2, 2020
When it comes to decorating churches for special feasts and seasons, there are no particular rituals to follow, but there are some guidelines to correlate with the artistic endeavors of those who volunteer their time and talent to the cause.
Everything should be done in collaboration with the pastor of a parish, said Father Jonathan Bakkelund, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Geneva, who is also in charge of the Office of Divine Worship for the diocese.
“It is his (the priest’s) responsibility to choose persons with suitable knowledge regarding the Sacred Liturgy to assist him in maintaining a healthy and reverent liturgical life in the parish,” Father Bakkelund said.
Those on Art and Design or Art and Environment committees sometime are members of parish liturgical committees as well, and they can find direction for their work in the book “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite” by Bishop Peter Eliot.
“But the real governing document is the ‘General Instruction of the Roman Missal,’ ” Father Bakkelund said.
Traditionally, the church and sanctuary should be decorated with living plants that bud flowers.
In the United States, crucifixes and statues may be covered on the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
This was formerly a period called Passiontide and the Gospel at Mass refers to when Jesus hid Himself in preparation for His Passion (Jn 8:59).
According to the Roman Missal, the altar is stripped after the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.  Depending on the parish community, it is done with varying levels of solemnity. 
Covering the crucifix, paintings, and other décor during Holy Week is a sacrifice for the congregation and an act of penance.
“We deny our eyes the beauty of the sacred art in order for the joy of Easter to be greater,” Father Bakkelund said.
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