The Opulence of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is so rich with treasure that it should sell it all and give the proceeds to the poor. This is what many non-Catholics have said about the many priceless artifacts which are on display in various Catholic Churches. My first thought would be to ask these people this question, "Well, have you sold all of your valuables and given all of the money to the poor?"

What does Holy Scripture have to say regarding the fact that GOD wants, and deserves, the very best?
The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me. And this is the offering which you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
They shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and you shall make upon it a molding of gold round about. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.

Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

"And you shall make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make around it a frame a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the frame. And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour libations; of pure gold you shall make them. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

And you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its capitals, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it; and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand; and on the lampstand itself four cups made like almonds, with their capitals and flowers, and a capital of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. Their capitals and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one piece of hammered work of pure gold. And you shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light upon the space in front of it. Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall it be made, with all these utensils. And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain."
Exodus 25:1-40

Here GOD gave specific instructions to Moses as to how His sanctuary was to be constructed.
How many times can you count that the word gold was used in this chapter?
Would you dare to accuse GOD of opulence also?
Please read Exodus chapters 26-30, for much more of the lavish details that GOD gave to Moses.

Isn't GOD the same yesterday, today and forever? Do you think He prefers the stark meeting hall looks of non-Catholic sects today instead of the great beauty of His house as instructed to Moses?

There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him, and every one whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s offering to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women; all who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And every man with whom was found blue or purple or scarlet stuff or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins, brought them. Every one who could make an offering of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s offering; and every man with whom was found acacia wood of any use in the work, brought it. And all women who had ability spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen; all the women whose hearts were moved with ability spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work which the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done, brought it as their freewill offering to the Lord."
Exodus 35:20-29
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"And the Lord said to Moses, "Moreover you shall say to the Levites, 'When you take from the people of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe. And your offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fulness of the wine press. So shall you also present an offering to the Lord from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel; and from it you shall give the Lord’s offering to Aaron the priest. Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, giving the hallowed part from them. Therefore you shall say to them, 'When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be reckoned to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the wine press; and you may eat it in any place, you and your households; for it is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting.'"
Numbers 18:25-31
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

" And we have brought the Lord’s offering, what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord." And Moses and Eleazar the priest received from them the gold, all wrought articles. And all the gold of the offering that they offered to the Lord, from the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. (The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself.) And Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tent of meeting, as a memorial for the people of Israel before the Lord."
Numbers 31:50-54
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way."
1Samuel 6:8
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed."
1Samuel 15:15
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said,
"Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."
John 12:3-8
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

" (9) Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (10) And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (12) It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; (13) on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. (14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (15) And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. (16) The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. (17) He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man’s measure, that is, an angel’s. (18)The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. (19) The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, (20) the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. (21) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. (22) And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. (23) And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, (25) and its gates shall never be shut by day—and there shall be no night there; (26) they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. (27) But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life."
Revelation 21:9-27
Here Saint John described his vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Church, which is analogous to the Bride, the wife of the Lamb (9). Just look at the riches in these verses, gold, pearls, precious jewels. How could anyone dare to claim that there is opulence within the House of GOD?
There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

Apparently those who criticize the Catholic Church for being opulent, have not read the following verses, for in them GOD has said that He will fill His House with splendor, and His latter House will have greater splendor than the former:

"For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts. THE SILVER IS MINE, AND THE GOLD IS MINE, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS. THE LATTER SPLENDOR OF THIS HOUSE SHALL BE GREATER THAN THE FORMER, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.'"
Haggai 2:6-9

There is only one Church on earth to which those verses point as a type of it.

There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27

Does a church in "splendor" mean a practically bare meeting hall?
Not in my dictionary does it.

Many of the greatest artisans that the world has ever seen, dedicated their talents and years of their lives to doing GOD's work for the Church which Jesus Christ founded. We see that the great art, in all forms and shapes, not only comes to decorate our Churches and the Vatican, but it is a recognition of the artistic talents that God has given to a selected few. The art represents what the soul wants to manifest. Writers write. Photographers take pictures. Painters, sculptors, and architects do their own to manifest their faith. This art within the Catholic Faith has been an inspiration for many to seek the Lord. The Church has a responsibility to recognize the hands of the Lord in these great talents, and to preserve their testimonies of faith. They represent the real "splendor", the one that comes from the souls of the faithful. Every artist offers to God the best they have. When the Lord asked Moses to build the Tabernacle, He asked for the best, and He got it.

The Lord said to Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereon, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base, and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do."
Exodus 31:1-11
See, it is GOD who chooses the artisans for His tabernacle and its contents, and he endowed them with the talents needed to produce to the very best of their abilities.
Isn't GOD the same yesterday, today and forever? Do you think He prefers the stark meeting hall looks of non-Catholic sects, instead of the great beauty of His house today in His Catholic Church?

There can be nothing less than the very best for GOD.

There is not another Christian Church in the world which can even come close to the splendor of the artistic beauty within the Catholic Church.
Where should such artistic beauty be found other than in the glory of the House of GOD?

Now, let us suppose that the Catholic Church had done from the beginning what the detractors charge that the Church should have done. Where would we be today?

Would the poor still be with us?
Yes! Have you already forgotten John 12:8?

Where would the priceless art treasures be today?
They would either be, (1) lost forever, or would be, (2) stored in warehouses, or would be, (3) in the homes of the very rich. In all three scenarios, they would be an incalculable loss to the great mass of humanity.

What would the Catholic Church look like today?
It would look like how many non-Catholic churches look today. There would be no beautiful stained glass, no magnificent art forms, no precious metals or jewels, and nothing to distinguish it as being the House of GOD, as compared to a dull, drab meeting hall. It would not at all resemble the beautiful Heavenly Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, as described by Saint John.
And, besides all of the lack of beauty and the drabness of our churches, the poor will still always be with us as mentioned before.
So what would have been gained?
What would have been lost?

Written by Bob Stanley, August 23, 2001
Updated September 18, 2004

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