|For the glory of God: the great Monstrance of Arfe, Primate Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo, Spain. Why does God need a monstrance this big?|
In his Dialogue Concerning Heresies, one of the finest -- if not the finest -- English-language works of apologetics, St. Thomas More pretty neatly answers the critics of the Church who think the wealth spent on church furnishings and vessels and vestments and reliquaries should instead be given to the poor.
What riches our Lord God Himself stipulated for the constructing and adorning of the Temple,and for the altar furnishings and the priests' apparel, how was He Himself the better off for all this? Or for the animals that He Himself ordered offered to Him in sacrifice? Or for the sweet odors and frankincense? [See Exodus 25-29.] Why do these heretics more jeer at the customs of Christ's Church than they do at the customs of the Jews' synagogue, unless they are Jews rather than Christians?
If people will say that the money would be better spent among poor folk, whom He cares more about, they being living temples of the Holy Spirit [1 Cor. 3:16], made by His own hand, than about the temples of stone made by human hands, this would perhaps be very true if there were so little to do the one thing with that we were driven by necessity to leave the other undone. But God gives enough for both, and gives different individuals different kinds of devotion, and all to His pleasure. Let everyone respectively, as the Apostle Paul says, abound and be prolific in that kind of virtue that the Spirit of God guides them to [see Rom. 12:6-8 and 2 Cor. 9:6-15]. And not be of the foolish mind of Luther, who in a sermon of his expresses the wish that he could get into his hands all the pieces of the Holy Cross, and says that if he did, he would throw them where the sun would never shine on them. And for what pious reason would the wretch do such an insult to the Cross of Christ? Because, he says, so much gold is now being put into the adorning of the pieces of the Cross that there is none left for poor folk. Is this not a far-fetched reason? As though all the gold that is now put around the pieces of the Holy Cross would not have failed to be given to poor people had it not been put into the adorning of the Cross! And as though there were nothing else lost but what is put around Christ's Cross!
For the glory of William Randolph Hearst: Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California. Why does anybody need a house this big? (Source.)
Take all the gold that is expended on all the pieces of Christ's Cross throughout Christendom. Granted, many good Christian princes and other godly people have, out of respect, adorned many pieces of it. Yet if all that gold were gathered together, it would appear a poor portion in comparison with the gold that is expended upon goblets -- but why speak of goblets, the gold in which, though it is not given to the poor, is nevertheless saved and can be given in alms whenever people will, which they never will -- how small a portion do we think the gold around all the pieces of Christ's Cross would be if it were compared with the gold that is quite thrown away on the gilding of knives, swords, spurs, tapestries, and painted cloths, and (as though those things could not use up gold fast enough) the gilding of posts and entire roofs, not only in the palaces of princes and great prelates but also in the houses of many quite undistinguished people? And yet among all these things Luther could catch sight of no gold that grievously glittered in his bleared eyes, but only around the Cross of Christ. For that gold, if it were gone from there, the wise man thinks, would immediately be given to poor people. And this where he sees every day that those who have their bags filled with gold give to the poor not one piece of it, but rather, if they given anything, ransack the bottom to seek out there, amidst all the gold coins, a [silver] halfpenny -- or, in his country, a brass penny, four of which equal a farthing.
|For the glory of Cardinal Mahony: the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Why did the Archdiocese of Los Angeles need a hideous cathedral costing $189.7 million? (Source.)|
Such are the impressive arguments found by those who profess holiness as a pretext for their cloaked heresies.
Dialogue Concerning Heresies at 72-73.