To be sure, Our Lady Star of the Sea, is a nice parish. But on the whole, there is nothing particularly remarkable about its elegant, yet simple, structure. So I asked my non-Catholic friend if he had ever been to the St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle. He said no, and I told him he really should, if he was impressed with Star.
But all of this got me to wondering: What did our cathedral look like prior to its "renovation?"
I have no recollection of there ever being a renovation; but I'd be willing to wager my right leg the altar now sitting in the center of the nave is not to be found in the original blueprints.
Curious, I poked around on the Internet.
Here is a photo taken in 1907:
Notice the beautiful baldacchino, altar rail, and statues of Mary and Joseph (presumably on left and right, respectively).
All of which is no more.
Below is another picture; this one from 1929, still long before Vatican II, the "spirit" of which Modernists would soon use as their carte blanche commission to usher in the jackhammers and usher out the high altar.
And no cathedral would be complete without a side altar...
...side-baldacchino and all.
Contrast these pictures of yester-year with the new look:
Where the high altar used to be, the choir now sits.
In the words of architect Stephen Lee,
"The 1994 renovation and renewal began with an awareness that older church interiors were typically ill-suited to the reformed rites of Vatican II, which call for a change in the focus of liturgical action, to the gathered assembly."
I guess it never occurred to Lee that when a religion focuses liturgical action (i.e. worship) on the people, little room is left for God. Then again, maybe that's giving Lee (& friends) too much credit. Perhaps they were not so naive at all.
Contrast the thoughts of the cathedral's re-designer with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy:
"The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself...As one of the fathers of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, J.A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not lock themselves into a circle, they did not gaze at one another, but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us...."
I'll take the design of 1907 over that of 2007 any day.