A Cathedral Pilgrimage

A pastor once told me that his ministry was becoming less liturgical and traditional which was allowing him to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s work. As a protestant monastic community our journey has been the exact opposite. We have tried to plumb the depths of the Christian tradition, taking on a more liturgical life and appreciating the ancient features and practices of our faith. Interestingly, this journey has enhanced our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and His work.

Included in our spiritual adventure is the study of Christian architecture. Compared to the “form should follow function” attitude toward contemporary places of shopping worship, our spiritual forefathers understood church structures as places of transcendence, beauty and storytelling. The building itself was part of the task of spiritual formation.

That’s why Lisa and I spent March of this year exploring Gothic Cathedrals in France. Not every church we visited was technically a “cathedral,” the central church of a diocese or seat of the bishop, but all were medieval and had either Gothic or Romanesque features.

We were inspired to explore these marvelous buildings from watching the excellent course on cathedrals presented by Professor William R. Cook on the streaming platform Wondrium (formally Great Courses). Columbia University’s Mapping Gothic project guided us, too.

Our journey took us to the cities of Reims, Laon, Amiens, Beauvais, Rouen, Chartres, Bayeux, Mont Saint-Michel, and of course, Paris. It goes without mentioning that we were inspired, overwhelmed, and a little exhausted. Through a series of blog posts I’ll try to convey the wonder of what we experienced and some insights we gained along the way.

Index of blog posts for our Cathedral Pilgrimage