Thursday, January 13, 2011

USF's Manressa Gallery Does it Again: Buddhist Meditation Classes inside Church...

The question of what to do when you've taken a space that used to house confessionals and ripped them out, can be tough to answer (and how often do we see confessionals that look like that one anymore?). After all, some people might have high expectations for the replacement. How can you one up a place where a sacrament used to make place and make it into something better? (The answer, in case you were wondering, is that you can't!).

Last year USF gave it a shot when they brought in their very special pagan hermaphrodite god display. At the time I signed up as a "fan" on the galleries facebook page (sadly there was no "disgusted onlooker unable to look away button") so that I would get updates on the exhibits. After that, for the most part forgot about it.

Tonight I thought I'd come up with my subject for a daily post when I saw a little number 1 pop up in my facebook window. I'll admit, when I saw who it was from I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for a "Rome" update. When I clicked on it I saw I had an invitation from someone from the Manressa Gallery (i.e. the thing that they removed the confessionals for). I'd been "invited" to "Meditation and Dharma Talk Series: The Art of Meditation." Here we go again...

The "info" section describes the "exhibit" as a four part series of Zen Buddhist Meditation Sittings (isn't that just the perfect thing to host inside a Catholic Church). It goes on to say:

"The Art of Meditation is a series of meditations and dharma talks that seek to explore the art of meditation and the intersection between art and meditation. Using the exhibition Sacred Synergies: Works by Tobi Kahn as a platform, each meeting will consist of a brief meditation instruction, meditation sitting and a talk followed by open discussion. Meeting will be held in a different alcove of the gallery each week, using Kahn's artwork and the gallery environment as a portal of entry into dharma talks..."
The first meeting, on January 20th, is the introduction, where they will "set the stage" for the following talks and give an overview. The sessions the following three weeks will be taught by three different Zen priests.

You can rip out the confessionals, but you are still inside this building where Mass is celebrated daily:

It's just kind of sad that USF can't put the same energy that they put into these "art shows" towards Catholic spiritual development. Imagine the art show and classes they could put on using artwork depicting the mysteries of the rosary. Of course, that wouldn't be quite as trendy...


  1. Totally with you on all this! I have nothing against Zen Buddhism or learning about other faith traditions. But not in a Catholic church. I love the old confessionals, they bring such a richness to the older buildings that still have them, and I like using them for confession so much better. And, no the rosary is not "trendy" - there's something about modern Catholicism being embarrassed about our faith and wanting to look like we're "with it." I don't know.

  2. Got to love the CINO universities. We must be inclusive, hip, trendy. O wait, no we don't. When you've got CATHOLIC as a descriptor of your school you might try teaching CATHOLIC beliefs and follow CATHOLIC teachings right? Well I guess that would be to exclusive wouldn't it? Don't you just want to strangle the administration of some of these so called Catholic schools and churches. What happened to the good old one true faith? I guess after 2000 years it's gone out of style. So now we get cool, hip, and trendy just like the Protestants.


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