Well, one explanation was given by Abbot Suger of St. Denis, back in the twelfth century “The dull mind rises to the truth through material things” and even more fully, in answering some of his own minimalist contemporaries (they had them then too) “To be sure, those who criticize us argue that holy mind, pure heart and faithful intention should suffice … These are, we agree, the things that matter most; yet we profess that we should also serve God with the external ornaments of sacred vessels, in all internal purity and in all external nobility, and nowhere is this to be done as much as in the service of the holy sacrifice. For it is incumbent upon us in every case to serve our redeemer in the most fitting way for in all things, without exception, he has not refused to provide for us, has united our nature with his in a single, admirable individual, and “setting us on his right hand” he has promised “that we will truly possess his kingdom” (Mtt. 25:33f.).” ~ Why Beauty in Church? Why Art?
Fresh flowers make a huge difference. We have decided on four simple bud vases of flowers placed in a staggered fashion on the upper and lower gradines.
We tried adding two larger flower arrangements on portable pillars on either side of the altar, but they seemed to distract from the altar and of course, were an additional expense that we could do without. These items help tremendously but are still manageable for us to do each Sunday. The altar itself requires a good bit of time to set up and take down, so all these things need to be kept in mind when deciding on artistic elements in a temporary setting such as many mission chapels like ours.