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  #1  
Old Dec 10, '11, 9:54 pm
pilots13 pilots13 is offline
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Default Church Decorations

I thought I'd throw this out and see what people say. I am in charge of the "Environment Committee" at my parish (which means I design and set up the seasonal decorations primarily inside, but also a bit outside the church. I don't really have any set rules on what I can and can't, or shouldn't do (other than a few I've set for myself such as no white or green plants during Lent). I obviously do my designs with season appropriate themes to them. But are there any actual rules? I'm I going to burn in hell for using blue at Advent or something like that?
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  #2  
Old Dec 10, '11, 11:32 pm
Pfaffenhoffen Pfaffenhoffen is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilots13 View Post
I thought I'd throw this out and see what people say. I am in charge of the "Environment Committee" at my parish (which means I design and set up the seasonal decorations primarily inside, but also a bit outside the church. I don't really have any set rules on what I can and can't, or shouldn't do (other than a few I've set for myself such as no white or green plants during Lent). I obviously do my designs with season appropriate themes to them. But are there any actual rules? I'm I going to burn in hell for using blue at Advent or something like that?


You were chosen.
You are good.
You have common sense.
Creative people stands out of the crowd so get critics which is not bad.
Artistic Directors are dictactors. I cannot find other way to put it. Either it is your idea, my idea, the priest's idea, the community's idea (which cn amount to 1000 ideas) or it is a messy democratic way.
Do what you feel. Listen to the people after the results.
Next year, with the results and you own feelings, do again you idea.
And so on.
God will guide you, God knows whether blue will result in a brilliant idea for Advent.
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  #3  
Old Dec 10, '11, 11:37 pm
kmuestwin kmuestwin is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

I think you should stick with the liturgical color for the season. Advent is purple so build off of the purple colors and throw some others in to accent the purple.

The liturgical colors are like the heartbeat of the church. They keep everything moving and they unconsciously inform people what is happening. I wouldn't stray too far from the color of the season.

When we do decorations, one of the ladies in charge of flowers refuses to use any artificial plants for her decorations. It makes it difficult and a little bit pricier because you can't use them every season but I like the natural look. We use a lot of potted arrangements and I get to water them. (Thats a chore I actually like!)

My rules:

1) Complement the liturgical colors

2) Have Church quality

All the decorations should be well done. Even if you don't have much to work with, make the effort to make everything look clean and neat.

3) Nothing that will flash, blink, or reflect light behind the altar.

None of your hard work should distract people from the Eucharist.

4) Give your best to God.

As long as you really try everything will work out!
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  #4  
Old Dec 11, '11, 2:52 am
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odile53 odile53 is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Advent is purple, like another responder said. That's a lot easier than blue: There are very few naturally blue flowers. Since blue is a color that some Protestant denominations have chosen as a "modern" Advent color, I'd personally steer away from it and stick with purple, or violet.

Surprisingly, the US bishops did put out a publication called Built of Living Stones that give general guidelines about appropriateness of church decorations, and from what I can gather from this review, the general idea seems to be "less is more." Here's the link to the review:

http://www.uscatholic.org/glad-you-a...uring-holidays

You might want to see if the actual publication is available through the diocese, or even if your parish already has a copy, review it, and then design away accordingly.

Outside, you might want to consider seeing what the church already has on hand. A church where I previously was a member had a gorgeous creche: Each week of Advent, more features would be added. The first week there were only a couple of barnyard animal statues. The next week, a manger, sans Jesus and the Holy Family, appeared. Third week, some sheep got put in there. Fourth week, Mary and Joseph, and then late in the afternoon on Christmas eve, shepherds and a couple of angels. The shepherds, star and baby Jesus Himself made an appearance around ten PM, all set there for Midnight Mass. Doing the creche in stages like that seemed to heighten the anticipation as Advent progressed.

Have fun, and how about posting some pictures of your ideas and final results?
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  #5  
Old Dec 11, '11, 5:59 am
PrayForMeStJude PrayForMeStJude is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Built of living stones is a bit...iffy.

I would say to keep decorations simple and traditional. Stick to the color of the season, and please don't overload the sanctuary with plants and flowers. I hate feeling like I'm attending mass in a greenhouse. Those are just my opinions, but I think the most important part of your job would be making sure your decorations fit in with the architecture and design of the Church as it is. Some things look better in gothic-style churches, some in roman-style churches, etc.


SO, without knowing what your Church looks like, what your budget is, or what your priest likes, here are some resources that may help. If you're into this kind of thing, I would suggest that you read New Liturgical Movement religiously.

On seasonal decorations:
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...ration-of.html

On cluttered sanctuaries:
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...e-clutter.html

A few renovations, of different styles, that might spark some ideas.
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...-revision.html
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...n-st-john.html
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...louisiana.html
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org...of-cloyne.html

And no. felt. banners!
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  #6  
Old Dec 11, '11, 6:07 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilots13 View Post
I thought I'd throw this out and see what people say. I am in charge of the "Environment Committee" at my parish (which means I design and set up the seasonal decorations primarily inside, but also a bit outside the church. I don't really have any set rules on what I can and can't, or shouldn't do (other than a few I've set for myself such as no white or green plants during Lent). I obviously do my designs with season appropriate themes to them. But are there any actual rules? I'm I going to burn in hell for using blue at Advent or something like that?
yes there are rules and anyone on your committee should meet with the person in the diocese in charge of liturgy and worship to learn what they are if you don't know already.

The liturgical colors are set, they are red, green, white (or gold) and purple, with rose an option for the 3rd Sunday of Advent and 4th Sunday of Lent. Find out if any other colors have been approved by your bishop's conference, for instance black for funerals.

Find out where and how you are allowed to place hangings, banners, altar cloth etc., and you must know how the altar and ambo are allowed to be covered. and no plants on the altar. none. nada and nothing except the items used for liturgy, no "environment" there. And make sure your seasonal items are cleaned and stored properly, clearly marked, at each change of seasons.

you should know how the Mass flows, and other rites like RCIA, Baptism, Easter Vigil etc., so you don't block movement of the ministers and participants.

Check with the choir people to make sure sound equipment and instruments are not disrupted, and for placement of anything in their area.

find out local laws about Christmas trees, candles etc. as well. Make sure not to block exits with trees, for instance.

Here, no flowers are allowed during Advent and Lent but I don't know if tha tis a local or universal church rule, so find out. Any flowers brought in for a wedding, OL Guadalupe etc. have to be removed immediately afterward, for instance.

oh and first thing you do, find out what your budget is.
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  #7  
Old Dec 11, '11, 7:05 am
Deo Gratias42 Deo Gratias42 is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

I believe Father Zuhlsdorf has a few helpful tips.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/10/quaer...or-fr-z-rants/

Quote:
For my part, antependia are good. I would do things the old way and avoid flowers during Advent and Lent. Don’t overdo it at Christmas and Easter. Potted plants should be forbidden through interdicts and latae sententiae excommunications. If I hear that you have arranged pumpkins and dead branches and corn cobs around the place for Thanksgiving, I may have to hunt you down. If I ever hear that you have allowed the “reconciliation room” to be pimped out with a little table, a fat candle, and a little bowl of pebbles, I will hunt you down. At the first appearance of anything with a rainbow on it… well… it gets worse from there.

I think what you see in church should make you think about the Church Militant, Suffering and Triumphant and about the transcendence of God even before the humility of Christ and his Passion and Resurrection, pointing always back to the central position of the Eucharist in the church. Things which don’t do that … well… just get rid of them. And get rid of anyone who suggests pebbles anywhere, anything tie died or finger-painted, and just about anything that looks like it could have been worn in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.

Finally, depending on the space, sometimes less is more.

PS: Convert the reconciliation room immediately to a real confessional with a fixed barrier and grate.
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  #8  
Old Dec 11, '11, 7:14 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

above all please make the environment you are trying to create in the church serve the liturgy and reflect the liturgical season. You should if possible with your committee, and hopefully others in liturgical ministry, pray with the Sunday scriptures the week before as they themselves are the only guide for any "theme" you are after.

blinking lights anywhere should be grounds for automatic excommunication. One priest years ago actually stopped Mass, and had the ushers remove an offending tree before he would continue.

the other rule I have seen in every parish we have served is no decorations on Christmas trees other than white or gold lights (not blinking), again like the flowers don't know if that is some canon law.
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  #9  
Old Dec 11, '11, 8:33 am
PacoG PacoG is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
the other rule I have seen in every parish we have served is no decorations on Christmas trees other than white or gold lights (not blinking), again like the flowers don't know if that is some canon law.
Wouldn't the exception to this would be the Jesse Tree?

I remember when I was a kid, my parish had a big Jesse Tree. Our then-pastor would take the opportunity to catechize the children on the meaning of the Jesse Tree. He had a talk about it after every Sunday Mass and had the sisters who ran the school have a special Mass where he blessed it.

When the pastor left for another parish, the Jesse Tree never re-appeared.
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  #10  
Old Dec 11, '11, 10:13 am
Digitonomy Digitonomy is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by odile53 View Post
Surprisingly, the US bishops did put out a publication called Built of Living Stones that give general guidelines about appropriateness of church decorations, and from what I can gather from this review, the general idea seems to be "less is more."...

You might want to see if the actual publication is available through the diocese, or even if your parish already has a copy, review it, and then design away accordingly.
It's also available online at the USCCB site:
http://old.usccb.org/liturgy/livingstones.shtml
Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzleannie
The liturgical colors are set, they are red, green, white (or gold) and purple, with rose an option for the 3rd Sunday of Advent and 4th Sunday of Lent.
While red and green may be secular colors associated with Christmas, I don't agree they are proper liturgical colors for Advent. I suppose you could argue red for St. Lucy and St. Stephen, even if the latter is after Christmas.

To the OP: I think purple or gold are fine choices for decorations, but in some churches they may not work well. If navy, or brown, or silver, or whatever else seem to work better, go with it, and use those decorations to tie in the liturgical colors. You certainly don't want to clash with the vestments.
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  #11  
Old Dec 11, '11, 12:57 pm
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SMHW SMHW is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Something that may have been alluded to but has not yet been expressly stated...

If a church is equipped with built-in ornate architectural features then less added seasonal decorations is definitely the way to go.

But in a church which is on the stark end of the spectrum, a considerable degree of (tasteful and beautiful) seasonal decorating may be necessary.
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  #12  
Old Dec 11, '11, 5:41 pm
PrayForMeStJude PrayForMeStJude is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digitonomy View Post
While red and green may be secular colors associated with Christmas, I don't agree they are proper liturgical colors for Advent. I suppose you could argue red for St. Lucy and St. Stephen, even if the latter is after Christmas.

To the OP: I think purple or gold are fine choices for decorations, but in some churches they may not work well. If navy, or brown, or silver, or whatever else seem to work better, go with it, and use those decorations to tie in the liturgical colors. You certainly don't want to clash with the vestments.
I don't think she meant red and green were colors for Christmas. She meant they were approved liturgical colors for certain seasons or feasts.
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  #13  
Old Dec 11, '11, 8:11 pm
pilots13 pilots13 is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

OK, Lets see if I can respond to all these posts (thanks to everyone who's replied)

My church is a very plain church. It was built in 1964 and has no ornate architectural features (no wall paintings, no pre-vatican II altar, heck we didn't even have a mounted cross till the mid 90's). It's been a long tradition (since sometime in the 70's) to decorate the entire church (not just the sanctuary, but the side Altars and out in the main body of the church as well) with plants, flower, and banners. The designs I've done since I've been in charge (a good 15 years now) have been "simple but elegant" as a former Priest once encouraged us to do.

As for rules I have from above... Really none. In fact our new pastor (who's been there only a few months) when I asked him about rules for decorating he said he didn't have a creative bone in his body, so do whatever I've been doing. When we had assistant pastors one of them would always help. But that's been 20 years at this point. We've had 3 different pastors in that time, and all have been very hands off. Basically they let me do whatever I come up with, and if I do something they aren't hot on, they note it to me and I just don't do that again. The majority of the time it's for flow issues rather than liturgical or anything like that.

I have few basic rules I follow (all self imposed). For example, during Lent, I use no green plants and no white. The majority of the time I use living plants vs cut or artificial. Just because I prefer having actual living plants instead of fake, and potted plants last A LOT longer, and are generally cheaper than cut arrangements. I should also note my budget.... Ha... what budget? We're a broke inner city parish! Honestly, the only "official" budget i have is the money we have donated for memorial flowers at Christmas and Easter. That said, I am very lucky that we once had a decorating budget, and the large amounts of fabric and other materials bought then are still in fairly good shape and is what I use now.

Lastly, on the blue at Advent issue... I had been paying attention to church decorations, and helping out at my parish (not in charge at this point) for many years before I even realized purple was the official Advent color. Honestly our church (and really all but a couple very traditional churches in town) use blue at this point. I guess my mentality to use blue is it separates Advent from Lent. Every other season has a unique color scheme (Christmas usually white and either gold or red, Easter white and either yellow or some combination of pastel colors) For me it's about creating an enviroment that fits the mood of the season. And for most people, Purple = Lent, even though it is technically both Advent and Lent. That and it's easier to do a stary night on blue banners

Lastly, lastly, here's a link to how the sanctuary looks right now. Also, is a link to a website I try to keep up with the past few years of designs. I have photos dating back to the early 70's, just haven't had the time to get them all uploaded yet. I always welcome the 3 C's (comments, complaints, and questions) on my designs.

http://stpatsdeco.weebly.com/uploads...97824_orig.jpg
http://stpatsdeco.weebly.com/
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  #14  
Old Dec 11, '11, 9:37 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilots13 View Post
OK, Lets see if I can respond to all these posts (thanks to everyone who's replied)

. . .

Lastly, lastly, here's a link to how the sanctuary looks right now. Also, is a link to a website I try to keep up with the past few years of designs. I have photos dating back to the early 70's, just haven't had the time to get them all uploaded yet. I always welcome the 3 C's (comments, complaints, and questions) on my designs.

http://stpatsdeco.weebly.com/uploads...97824_orig.jpg
http://stpatsdeco.weebly.com/
Looks like you are making the most of it with limited resources and a fairly brutal space to deal with -- that faded carpet and those huge blank areas of motley brown brick can't be very easy to dress up. How is it that the church got this pointless abstract stained glass, while the banquet hall got actual pictorial stained glass? Whoever made decisions like that sure left you with a tough row to hoe. Anyway, a few random suggestions:
  • Enough with the off-center runners over the altar. If you could find, or have made, maybe two or three decent altar frontals in key liturgical colors, that would be your best bet for making the altar a visual center. But off-center things tend to be jarring and disconcerting.

  • A handsome frontal of some sort would also stop you from having to put busy-looking arrangements right in front of the altar to mask its overall unappealing affect when bare. Likewise, since you have a very large sanctuary -- too large, really, so that it seems hard to find a happy medium between making it busy to fill it up or leaving it gaping and empty -- there is no reason to do things like this. The washing can be set up over in front of the baptismal font, or between the altar and the ambo. (And what's with the yellow flowers on Holy Thursday, to say nothing of the harvest-themed runner, which is off-center of course?) Moreoever, I think you occasionally miss the mark on what should be your goal of emphasizing and honoring the altar with things like flowers, and instead wind up distracting from and diminishing the altar when you set up strongly competing visual elements like a creche right in front of it. The altar should not have to compete for attention in this manner. Besides which, a creche should be off in a corner somewhere so that people can go and admire it without having to plant themselves in the smack in front of the altar to do it.

  • I really like the stone that is in the central portion of the sanctuary wall, where the crucifix is. (You don't have more of it laying around waiting to be used, do you?) Long-term, you may want to think of ways to deal with those big blank areas of wall to either side. They might look better whitewashed; that brown is really unfortunate and contributes to the overall darkness of the place. In the meantime, though, are these wreaths on Palm Sunday?

  • Another point to make is that it would be better to expend your money on a smaller number of high-quality things than a larger number of low-quality things. Items like this just look cheap, and that is depressing. This looks nice enough, but cheap fabric treated with no artistry actually makes the space look even worse than if it were not there at all. I read your statement to the effect that you refuse ever to repeat anything, but is that so necessary? I don't think very many people come to church and leave with the complaint "It wasn't new enough." When something is high-quality, people will want to see it again. We're not talking about wearing the same dress to the Academy Awards two years in a row: for most Catholics, a year will be too long for them to remember; and for those who do remember, it can be comforting and provide a sense of constancy and stability to see the same things reappear like clockwork. Once more, nobody says "A Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center again?!" Obviously there is room for innovation, but I think the anti-sameness manifesto is working against you.

  • Start saving your money to get rid of that awful carpet! It will also improve the acoustics.
Your church is definitely lucky to have somebody who cares as much as you do working on this. It seems like it would be a really dismal space if nobody were putting in the effort to bring some human touches and a bit of brightness in.
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  #15  
Old Dec 11, '11, 11:00 pm
Digitonomy Digitonomy is offline
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Default Re: Church Decorations

I said not to sweat it if violet didn't work as the main color for your church. It does - in fact any color works fine with such a bland backdrop. So I would definitely try to tie in the violet as part of your palette - especially on banners like you are using this year, where there are already several other swatches of color on each banner.

I have never much cared for pictures on banners. I think abstract patterns or simple colored fabric by itself are much more dignified, and less likely to look like a middle school art project. Also in the latter category are the 125th Anniversary banners that remind me of bubble gum wrappers. But I also understand that plain fabric by itself doesn't seem like quite enough for this space, so it's a tough choice. Last year's Christmas banners that were white with a red stripe evoked ambulance more than Christmas for me, but I do think that approach of a solid color with one or perhaps two stripes may be your best bet. Probably easier, if not as much fun, to make. Last year's Ordinary Time (winter) worked pretty well along these lines, although being predominantly white it causes a bit of confusion as to what liturgical season it is.

Otherwise, MarkThompson's suggestions seem generally on-target - especially about novelty for novelty's sake. Keeping out of a rut is nice, but if you find something that really works, don't chuck it all the next year.

Keep up your positive attitude and hard work; I may find a lot to nitpick in your photos, but I don't think I would do nearly as good a job with such a tough assignment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrayForMeStJude View Post
I don't think she meant red and green were colors for Christmas. She meant they were approved liturgical colors for certain seasons or feasts.
You're exactly right, my mistake.
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