Looking Before Leaping

The conversation that was had at the back of common grounds confirmed what I had thought reading through the bible passages and reflecting back on St. Bernard’s Apology and the writings of Abbot Suger. These men of faith were men not likely to take “leaps of faith” with respect to their actions. It seemed that every action they made was thought out thoroughly before it was ever executed. Every action was reflected on and examined its place in the larger sense of their spiritual world and their sense of faith. Their lives revolved around their Christian faith and therefore their actions reflected their dedication. The constructions of the churches were methodical. The frieze of the Church of Notre Dame de la Grande is evidence of that with the deliberate placement of images to the wicked left and the righteous right while also interweaving moral messages of several biblical stories. Obviously not achieved through chance, this frieze portrays the meticulous way of life with respect to those who dedicated theirs to their faith.

Abbot Suger’s writings give insight into the thought processes of a man juggling logical action while best maintaining his actions in the larger sense of his religious faith. Deliberate in his actions, Abbot Suger recognized areas of the church that needed repair but also sought to spend the church’s finances in a way that he felt enhanced the religious messages that could be portrayed utilizing the church as a literal symbol. Abbot Suger use of the churches finances was unabated as he seemed to add one after another enhancement of the church and seems to show the thought a man more predisposed to forward thinking while maintaining strong religious connections as we saw in his writings on the renovations made with the nave in which he preserved old walls as there had been ancient writings that suggest Jesus Christ himself placed his hands open them.

St. Bernard’s apology would suggest that Abbot Suger’s actions were flamboyant, however I would argue that the two were in search of worshiping their lord to the same end. St. Bernard argued against the utility of the detailed reliefs, high towers and colorful friezes, arguing for more simple worship. St. Bernard argued that this mode of worship would serve to only complicate and corrupt matters. St. Bernard acknowledges that his Christian brothers had dedicated their actions to their faith but he may have failed to understand, blinded by pockets of corruption within the church. There is a mentality of utilizing the resources available and another that aims to distill the process of worship to its simplest form, and what these followers would argue is its purest form. The two mentalities, however, fail to recognize the parallelism of the two paths. There is similar methodical reasoning to tailor life actions in reverence to their Lord and similar grounding within biblical texts that ultimately roots each methodology together.

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