We often will hear some misguided person, whether Protestant or Catholic, decry the wealth of the Catholic Church, whether in the property she owns, or the art she maintains. But when you turn it around you have to wonder…
The value of the art in a museum, even just the run-of-the-mill city museum, when you count the man-hours to collect archeological findings, or any other part of what an art museum holds…it’s staggering! And yet folks don’t demand that they sell the art for the poor, do they? Not on your life! Well, I will submit to you that the art in all the Catholic Churches in the World is being held in trust for the poor of the world, whether poor in financial things or in spiritual things. The Church doesn’t hide her art. She maintains her art. In the past, before the invention of the printing press, the Church chained Bibles to the pulpit to protect them. Books were expensive, for one thing, and we couldn’t have them stolen or damaged, could we? It’s the same thing with the art the Church holds, as well as the magnificent buildings, themselves.
And there it is, all the art the Church has received through the 2000 years of her history is there for anyone. We don’t even ask if you’re Catholic. In some cases, we charge admission, just like any other museum. People don’t work in museums for free.
The wealth of the Church is not in her buildings or her art, or her finances. It’s in her people. St. Lawrence was once told to deliver the wealth of the Church to the Emperor. He gathered the poor and assembled them for the Emperor, and was martyred for his effort. The art, and the wealth of the Church is meant for all to admire. The way we live is also meant for others to admire. Let’s remember to preach the Gospel to the world. And use words only when necessary.