Cathedrals bring out the meaning of stones

I was sitting in the Advent service in Worcester's beautiful cathedral last Sunday, looking around at the candle-lit walls and reflecting about the words of the stonemason I spoke of in my last post. It occurred to me that the craftsmanship of the cathedral's architects and stonemasons actually brings out something of the God-directed orientation of stones, and of the rest of creation.

In the classical Christian tradition, at least until the late Middle Ages, all of creation participates in God's divine Being, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty to one degree or another. The meaning of things — any things — is not found in things themselves but in God, their ultimate cause. All things come from God, depend on God for their being at each and every moment, and exist for God.

In him we live, and move, and have our being.

As such, even humble stones participate in God and only make sense as what they are when seen in relation to God. But stones do not wear their God-orientated meaning on their sleeves (unless inscribed by the hand of God). Yet, looking around the cathedral I saw stones that led the eyes heavenward towards the invisible God; stones that were not simply co-opted to some extrinsic and alien purpose but which were fulfilling their goal or telos in pointing Godward; stones that cried out in silent praise to their beautiful creator.


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