A few days ago we went to Chartres Cathedral. One writer described it as one of the most perfect pictures of the medieval mind.
What does this massive and beautiful building tell us? Here are a few ideas for the moment.
1. God was at the heart of their thinking. God dominated their lives and they wanted to honour Him.
2. There was a fear of God – fear in a wrong sense. Confessional boxes, a maze that had to be travelled on the knees was at the heart of the Cathedral. People needed to do things to earn God’s pleasure.
3. It was an illiterate society, so the Bible story was told in great detail in the beautifully rich stained glass windows. Sadly, non Biblical Stories about Mary were added. But the detail and accuracy of the Bible stories was impressive.
4. The size of the building made God remote. Even Jesus was not a personal savior.
5. My last point, for the moment, is that this image of God does not communicate to the 21st century mind. Chartres reminds us that we need to reapply the gospel message anew for every age.
Finally, whatever our feelings, the medieval devotion makes pale in comparison.