On visiting St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York this week, I was struck by the monumental structures of stone. In particular, the number of statues carved of stone, which line each interior wall of the cathedral, all the way around the nave. These are the old statues, too. Too many of the statues in newer churches are of wood or plastic, or emaciated strips of metal twisted into fearsome shapes which bewilder the senses.
The old, stone statues, on the other hand, have a certain solidity to them. Rough-hewn, unpainted, stark and unchanging, they seem to stand in a timeless world, sculpted out of the stuff of mountains, while the stuff of flesh passes by underneath, lighting a candle and whispering a prayer. St. Augustine spoke of the nunc stans, the 'now-standing-still' which was the best image he could conjure of God's eternity: the stone statues on the cathedral facade are their own timeless witnesses to the nunc stans - perfected reflections of blessedness, looking down upon the school of frail sinners.