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Sunday 31 January 2016

Part the Second on the $400,000.00 "plus shipping" Holy-Moly Doors at Toronto's Our Lady of Sorrows Church

My international readers will pardon a local story, or be amused by it.

A few weeks ago, I posted a story about new doors on Toronto's Our Lady of Sorrows Church. I was told about these a few months ago, their unsuitability on the Church. I drove by to take a look a few weeks ago. The story of the new doors remained pretty quite until Toronto's archdiocesan owned Catholic Register (funded by a "surtax" from the cathedraticum, the parish tax levied on the collection plate, in case one wonders how it survives in the age of blogs) reported on it with a photo and a note underneath, "the new $400,000.00 doors." 

Yes, that is right, $400,000.00 (plus or including shipping)  for two doors.

Now, I am the first to give glory to God through fine things and beautiful churches and art. Yet, the most beautiful liturgy could be celebrated on a rock or in a barn with possibly more edification; given the state of the Church today and the manner in which Her liturgy is celebrated by priests and treated by people, that is more likely the case.

The original doors can be seen on this painting by Toronto artist David Crighton. One is impressed by the symmetry and playfulness between the coffered doors and round stain-glassed windows beside them. 

A commenter is quite annoyed with me for shining some light on the doors and the cost. 

From the combox of the post highlighted above:

"I'm going anonymous with my reply as I live in fear of Vox and his rapier fingertips."
I suspect that my anonymous friend does not like the fact that blogs allow the faithful to stand up to these clericalists. Think of what our parents and grandparents could have done with the knowledge and tools a half-century ago to stop the wreckovators from destroying our historic churches. Here in Toronto, few High Altars survive and only one intact communion rail and it was only a wrought iron affair in a suburban 1950's era church. The fine wood and marble, including the one here at Our Lady of Sorrows were smashed or used as parking curbs. Perhaps my writer should ask how that happened and how the mensa in this fine church was destroyed. 

"Take a look at the last picture. The door (singular) was a gift to the parish from a group of wealthy Catholics within the Archdiocese, including several wealthy parish families."

I am very happy that "wealthy Catholics" contribute to the development and beautification of our churches but there is a larger issue. Did these "wealthy Catholics" specifically ask to spend their money on bronze doors or did someone in the parish go shopping for the bronze doors and seek out the money later to pay for them? Is this money that could have helped other parishes meet their Family of Faith goal? Was it good stewardship to spend the generous gift of our "wealthy Catholic" on two new and unnecessary doors? There was nothing wrong with the existing doors and they suited the building's original Lombard design.

"It was NOT purchased with Family of Faith dollars (The Archdiocesan long-term funding strategy and Pastoral Plan - Vox) and thus NOT by unknowing Sorrows parishioners at large."

Ah, I see, so you have been getting pressure from the little people as to the accountability of the campaign. Then good that I am doing this, you should thank me now as they will know that it was other peoples $400,000.00 that went for these doors. 
"This is fact. More facts: The door was created in Italy by one of the foremost sculptors of our time, Ernesto Lamagna (www.ernestolamagna.it), former secretary for sculpture at the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters."
How wonderful for this sculptor. I am glad that you chose excellence over a Canadian. I visited his website, I'm not terribly impressed though I imagine some are. So what? The point is they were not necessary, they do not suit the building and they were $400,000.00!
"He has created masterpieces for many Catholic churches around the world. The panels, frame (and keys!) are cast bronze and, as one might well imagine, weigh a whole lot (sorry but I don't have a number - suffice to say that the crane and crew struggled). The shipping alone amounted to tens of thousands of dollars. Plus installation."
Yes, it must have been quite the undertaking, I trust the walls can support them. You admit that the cost was "Tens of thousands of dollars" for "shipping alone?" So, is that on top of the $400,000.00? Are we now looking at say, oh, I don't know ... $450,000.00? What the heck, why don't we just say a half million? 

"The door is a piece of fine art. Eye of the beholder, remember? These eyes behold a beautiful work that matches astonishingly well with the architecture of the church."
They don't actually. The wood coffered oak doors designed by the architect were in the Lombardy Style and were designed for the building. They reflected elements of the interior ceiling as the doors did to the ceiling at St. Pius X Church on the same street one parish east...Oh, wait, they spent a few hundred thousand tearing out the original ceiling for angels with faces painted replicating parishioners ... what am I thinking!
"It tells two moving stories remarkably well. It will be something people come to see, study, photograph and write about for generations. And you, dear reader... Have you come to see the door? The parish and indeed the archdiocese, is blessed to have it."

I've seen it from the street, that was enough. Yes, a work of art they are, they do not suit the building, nobody should have spent a half million dollars on two doors! 

"In 1964/65 many cried foul at the exorbitant cost of the pipe organ ($37,500)" 

Indeed as I indicated, a Casavant and the finest tracker organ in Canada. A masterwork for the Glory of God and His praise in the liturgy and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; a thing desirable for solemn worship.
"and many more hated the mosaics and were shocked by their cost."
They are beautiful and tell the story of the rosary and the Life of Christ and His sorrowful Mother. We have been decorating ceilings and walls with biblical stories since the catacombs. They catechise. they inspire, they help contemplate. They keep a daydreaming mind of a simple human being focussed on all that is holy. Doors do not, once you're in, you're in. 
Beautiful things - be they a pipe organ, marble panels, mosaics, a bespoke icon,
Bespoke? My such an erudite word. That icon was not necessary, what was removed for it was necessary, the Altar Cross original to the reredos was relegated to a side wall, no additional art or colour was necessary in this Church, art for art's sake is not what is needed when what is lacking is proper worship and catechesis! Were you ashamed by the crucified Lord?
"or a door - COST MONEY. How much money is reflective of the times in which they are acquired. "
What soul will be saved by sitting and contemplating the doors. If you care so much about St. Michael the Archangel then recite the prayer after Mass. Did you know the Cardinal Archbishop of this place tried to get the priests of Toronto to do this until he was scorned by them as the prayer was "so negative." True story! 
"Oh and the carpet is burgundy, not brown, and is cleaned regularly, thank you very much. It will be removed soon enough in favour of a newly restored sanctuary floor."
How wonderful and while you're at it, restore the wrecked and discarded marble communion rail and encourage people to kneel to receive Our Lord. You might also consider the mensa on what was the High Altar and how about a conference in the parish on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite so that it might take place there every Sunday. How about the Ordinary Form celebrated "ad orientem" as it was intended and the GIRM calls for if you actually read it? How about homilies by visiting priests that don't undermine the teaching of the Church on the family. (I do have a recording, after all) 
Looking forward to Vox's take on Renovations: Phase Two - 'The Cube'. Should be quite a ride (and read!) 
Is that a hint on what you will do with the Altar? Perhaps you should publish a picture or rendering on the webpage of the plan for the sanctuary.
Original doors courtesy of C.VanderWouden Photography
Should the good people at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish desire to have the Mass celebrated according to the Missal of 1962, the Traditional Latin Mass, that is their right. I urge them to contact Una Voce Toronto at unavocetoronto@gmail.com if they would like to learn more and to speak to their Pastor about Summorum Pontificum. They also have the right to received Holy Communion on the tongue and to kneel to receive the Lord should they so desire. 

As for the next phase, if they do not know now what is planned, perhaps they should make some inquiries about "The Cube."

They should also listen carefully to certain homilies and know that if a priest tells them that the "family" is something other than what the Church has always taught, even should society or the state call it so, it is not the case and know that St. Domenic would not be amused.


Anonymous said...

I am living in Toronto area; I am Catholic and immigrant from another country, and I can say one thing: Catholic Church here has no idea how financially privileged it is. Parishioners here are very generous, however the their faith is not taken care as it suppose to be. Many Catholic devotions are disappearing here. Nobody seems to care that all is slowly narrowing down to the Holy Mass and of course rich SOCIAL LIFE!!! (on the cost of spiritual one). Young people are disappearing from the Church (it is too boring for them, because NOBODY had ever explained to them the value and true meaning of the Holy Catholic Mass)...

Meantime money are corrupting the Church from within. Too much of them, too easily accessed through the generosity of others, but recklessly spent like this doors...

Is there a solution for all of these? Anyone?

Fr. Tim Moyle said...

Don't know anything about this door. Not its genesis, creation, or funding. I do not know if the money was 'well spent' or not and I don't even belong to Toronto Archdiocese. So I have no stake in this fight.


For those who are complaining that the money could (should?) have been spent on other more worthy purchases, may I ask that they at least take a moment or two and reflect on the lessons found in Mt 26:7 or Jn 12:3 before condemning this purchase. Maybe the cash could have been better spent but it should at least give one pause to think if they find themselves making the same argument as Judas.

Guest said...

Christ is Born!

Dear Vox,

You have every right to be angry at such a waste of money. Being Ukrainian Greek Catholic, I love icons since they are part of my heritage.

However, I love traditional Latin architecture as well. If you ever go on retreat at St. Ignatius Retreat House in Ridgefield, CT (USA), you will see a MAGNIFICENT marble Cross above the High Altar.

Anonymous said...

Vox, is it really true that Cardinal Collins once encouraged priests to pray the St. Michael prayer after Mass, and they refused? That is so depressing. I think it is a beautiful prayer. The disinterest of priests to pray the prayer after Mass is probably a testament to declining belief in evil and the devil. :(

Barona said...

Dear Fr. Moyle. Judas was disingenuous. I believe it is unfair to equate the outrage of Catholics to Judas' hypocrisy. It is very reasonable to suggest that a very wealthy parish, whose church already had two fine doors, to donate the money to the needy of Toronto: e.g. St. Francis' Table, the Good Shepherd Refuge, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul etc.

To think that this money was wasted in this manner, yet a mere few miles away people live on the streets is disgusting.

Vox Cantoris said...

Anon at 7:54. Yes, he did. He tried to have it done after every Mass but it was deemed "too negative."

Anonymous said...

I don't think there are too many people at the parish who are as outraged as you on this score.

I agree with Anonymous' (the one referred to in the post) opinion as opposed to yours.

And I think Fr. Moyle hit the nail on the head. If it were some architectural feature that you liked, you'd be singing its praises and others would be invoking better ways to spend the money like you're doing now and Judas did then. It's too subjective.

I bet the doors will still be around when everybody commenting here is long gone. No one will remember the money and they'll grow on people. When the powers that be decide to change them in the future, there will be someone like you complaining then too.

Anonymous said...

What their new door cost doesn't really matter. The real gem in this post is news that the clergy in Toronto are so deaf to spiritual battle that they would even refuse to invoke that awful prayer to the good angel. It just makes my job easier, I guarantee it! yours truly, Screwtape

Peter Lamb said...

Saint Michael's prayer was deemed "too negative". That is shocking beyond speech! Those who said that are simply not Catholics. Full stop.

Vox Cantoris said...

Whether one likes the "art" of the doors or not is, indeed, subjective. My point is that there was nothing wrong with the old doors and they were integrated into the architecture of the edifice.

As for the Judas Syndrome, Judas was a thief, a liar and a hypocrite and that is why his statement was so egregious to Our Blessed Lord. I wrote in both articles that money to beautify the church for God in worship is necessary. Restore the marble altar rail, the mensa to the reredos and so on. More important even than that, put the money into proper catechesis on matters of the Real Presence, Catholic morality, the evils of contraception. When was this last preached as opposed to a recent homily glorifying the state and culture's definition of "family."

There is a church in Toronto where 70-80 years ago, the pastor and diocese approved the burying of a cemetery and its paving for a parking lot. Now, that poor parish is ordered to restore it by the provincial government at a cost of over $100,000.00. Yet, that building has not elevator and is amongst the worst in Toronto in terms of maintenance and is facing a struggle. There are other stories like this in old parishes with decaying infrastructure.

How one can defend $400,000.00 plus or including shipping, we're not really sure, on two doors is indeed beyond my comprehension.

As for those in the future getting used to them, I suspect when they see historical photographs they will say the same thing when we look at old photos of Toronto's wreckovated churches at a cost of millions wasted to destroy what poor immigrants built.

Fr. Tim Moyle said...

Barona: It may be as you say. I have no first-hand knowledge of this project. But I think you are actually making my point for me. Judas was disingenuous. Perhaps too, to some degree are the people who are criticizing the money spent on this door. It may be that there is an agenda at work in opposing the pastor there. Maybe people are justifying their dislike of the aesthetics by covering their objection with the cloak of moral opposition to the funds spent on the purchase. As I said, I don't know.

All that I am suggesting is that people should reflect upon the passages I offered before they publicly criticize this purchase to ensure that their motives are as pure as possible. I see nothing offensive in counseling such an action, but I apologize to you if you believe that my comment is harmful or demeaning to you or to the poor you reference in your post.