Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Catholic Brand

I had an interesting chat with Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith over two of the tiniest portions of cod in Brighton, he wrote this in the Herald a few weeks ago.

He lauds the artistic contribution of the Counter-Reformation and says somehow we need to recapture something of that, in his article he doesn't suggest what the modern equivalents of Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa or Pozzo's Apotheosis of St Ignatius are, I am sure he doesn't think Jason Perry or Tracey Emming are going to offering an answer.

Having re-read his article he speaks of the difficulty of the detoxification of the Catholic brand after the paedophilia crisisis, the thing is that the Catholic brand was pretty toxic during the Reformation. What interests me is how do we move forward. First and foremost the answer is we need saints and good catechesis and a rediscovery of a real Christ centred spirituality but we should underestimate "the brand" or the image.

We came up with a little list of those things which symbolise the Catholic brand, I've added to it a bit:
The Crucifix
The statue or painiting of the Mother and Child
The image of a priest standing in front of an altar
Candles burning in front of a statue
rosary beads
medals
smell and smoke of incense
Blessed Sacrament in monstrance + candles
processions
stillness of an open church
plainsong
polyphony
sign of the Cross
nuns in habits
monks in habits
priests in cassocks
gothic/baroque churches

Perhaps you might be able to add to the list.

The problem of course is that so many of these images are almost lost, we have turned our back on them. Even Fr Jack kneeling in the front pew nursing his whiskey bottle is a sign of something good and holy, the problem is when he turns around and speaks. Nowadays nuns don't wear habits, plainsong and polyphony so often jar with contemporary liturgy, but still somehow these "brand markers" still speak more eloquently than words.

We need to rediscover non-verbal evangelisation because frankly we are not that successful with the word thing!

19 comments:

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

While we are on the subject of nuns in habits..I'm always surprised to see ALL Bridgittines & Contemplative orders.. (some..that nice DVD about a Carmelite order in London) well I'm always shocked seeing them stand, receive on the hand & distribute & receive the Precious Blood. I did speak with the Mother Generals but apparently they do so in Roma..& it's how all are asked so as not to have some falling down kneeling..oh coz they don't use the kneelers..so I look a complete fool..but that's not unusual..
Well however I have to say in all truthfulness they do receive Our Lord most reverently so I'm pondering a bit on this one ..

Dominic Mary said...

Latin, birettas, Faith . . .

Bryan said...

Most of the things on your list would also apply to the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churchs and even the so-called Anglo-Catholics.

A brand is an easily recognisably symbol or sign that is unique to the company or products - for example the Golden Arches is the brand symbol of McDonalds. [Brands also are meant to convey values that consumers will like and "identify with] but I'll ignore that element].

For the Roman Catholic Church it's got to be

the Pope.

R: Domine, conservet eum....

lms rep said...

simple Romanesque,

Paulinus said...

What we have:
An abstract figure or a 'Resurrection' statue
A vaguely abstract figure of a woman (could be any woman) and a child
Someone in an alb (or maybe not) sitting round a coffee table on which are placed some earthenware vessels
Multicoloured fairtrade candles burning in a 'prayer space'
rosary beads [You kidding me?]
rainbow ribbons
smell of lavender
Blessed Sacrament in a nondescript box in a side chapel
Invitations to 'peace' demos
Constant wittering
Sub-Bob Dylan ditties
Shine Jesus Shine
Hugs
Elderly feminists in trouser suits
No monks no more
bishops in polo shirts
concrete monstrosities

Zephyrinus said...

Here's another one: Celebrate Feast Days among friends and acquaintances.

Dear Fr Ray,
Happy pseudonymical Greetings to you, your Blog-Readers and your Parishioners on one's pseudonymical Feast Day.

Happy Zephyrinus !!!

SurreyCatholic said...

A little niggle, Father. Though I, like you, dislike the 'artist', her name is actually spelt Emin. That said, I prefer your spelling, - it rhymes with 'lemming'!

georgem said...

Kneeling to receive
Fasting at least three hours before Holy Communion (of one kind)
Distribution by priest only
Reinstatement of the Real Presence to the central altar tabernacle
Genuflection (we weren't called left-footers for nothing) - and at the Credo
Double genuflection at Exposition and no chitchat
Unobtrusive clothes at Mass (no beachwear!)
Reinstatement of Holy Days of Obligation to their proper dates
Bishops who believe in the Catholic faith

Delia said...

Romanesque churches!!

pelerin said...

Paulinus mentions 'rainbow ribbons'. What is it about rainbow ribbons these days? In Lourdes this year the theme is 'The sign of the Cross' and each pilgrimage has planted a Cross around the large Breton Cross at one of the main entrances. There is a wide variety and I searched for that of our own diocese. There it was - a plain Cross with rainbow ribbons waving in the breeze!

Nobody has mentioned Holy Water so far for the 'Catholic brand.'

terry said...

Finding a Church open during the day might be a start. Many now seem to be locked up during the day and only open for Mass and after that they close and lock up again.
On holiday I was rather surprised to see that at least one Cathedral adopts the same practice. Considering that during the week (apart from Holidays of Obligation) they only have one Mass a day ...

Was the idea of the locked Church apart from services not an innovation of Calvin ?

GOR said...

Sanctuary Lamps
Priests wearing black – suits and bib or shirt Roman collars - not grey, purple, blue or (horrors!) pink.
Doffing hats or making the Sign of the Cross when passing a Catholic church
Same when passing a cemetery
Mass Cards
In Memoriam cards
Black vestments for funeral Masses
House blessings
First Fridays
First Saturdays
Holy water fonts in homes
Other religious objects in homes – pictures, statues

Re the last two - it seems today that some Catholics are embarrassed to be identified as Catholics. When someone enters your home they should be able to tell right away that you are Catholic - and not ashamed of it!

universal doctor said...

Spot on GOR- the first thing that greets those who enter my front door is a framed photo of the Holy Father with a miniature scarlet biretta (of "Gamarelli" fame) perched precariously on one corner.
And if they don't like what they see they can leave!

Ttony said...

Unbleached candles and palls at funerals.

gemoftheocean said...

Jackie, it's ALWAYS the interior that matters the most. Reprobates can "act holy" and be evil to the core, and lambs can look "casual."

I guess in some minds Eastern Rite Catholics aren't really catholics because they "Stand aright and in awe."

As far as "Brand" goes, not yet mentioned:


cards in the wallet that say "I am a CAtholic, in case of emergency, please call a priest."

Chris said...

Interesting comments. All very "Latin" and all very "European".

Georgem:

The people in the church I belong to never kneel to receive Communion. This is a practise unknown to us. We never receive under one kind only as this would be unthinkable and just doesn't make sense to us.

We don't genufluect(we bow). Our churches usually don't have a tabernacle in the center anyway. And we don't have holydays of obligation.

So I guess that means we're not really Catholic according to the criteria of most folk who've made comments (gemoftheocean...thanks). It's a pity because we're Eastern Rite Catholics and our fast (normally from midnight unless illness prevents) makes the Latin Rite fast seem like a joke and our Divine Liturgies make the Tridentine Mass look like something Calvin would have thought up (only partly joking).

Folk - always remember that the Latin Church may be the largest but it's only one of 23 Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Open your minds to what Catholicism really is....heck most Catholics are African, South American or Asian....most of us sure ain't European. Those who believe - and behave - differently are in cloud cuckoo land.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry Chris,
I am a Latin Rite priest, concerned principally with a country that is Western. I suspect most of readers are not familiar with non-Latin Rites in the west outside of the US they tend not to be part our immediate cultural legacy.
My abject appologies, I certainly have a great respect for the culture of the East, as I would hope those of the East would have of the West, including what some might consider our odd peculiarities.
I don't think you will find any attempt here to put the East down, on the contrary I think we might be a little too indulgent especially with our Orthodox friends.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry Chris,
I am a Latin Rite priest, concerned principally with a country that is Western. I suspect most of readers are not familiar with non-Latin Rites in the west outside of the US they tend not to be part our immediate cultural legacy.
My abject appologies, I certainly have a great respect for the culture of the East, as I would hope those of the East would have of the West, including what some might consider our odd peculiarities.
I don't think you will find any attempt here to put the East down, on the contrary I think we might be a little too indulgent especially with our Orthodox friends.

georgem said...

Pax, Chris. There was no implied criticism of other rites in my post. Where I live I have only the experience of the Latin rite, or whatever remains of it . . .. so I was being very parochial.
I agree re the fasting. I rather think that reducing the fast to one hour not only diminishes the awesome reception of Our Lord but results in hardly anyone fasting at all.
In the Latin rite Masses I attend the bow, which replaced the genuflection, has become virtually non-existent.
Now I'm going to add a Latin rite "do try" to my list.
Dear indulgent mothers, your restless son is old enough to go Holy Communion, so do try your best to resist him lolling against you during the Mass while you put your arm around him and ruffle his hair,(it doesn't seem to apply to daughters). It's rather distracting for the person behind you.