I don't agree about the need for churches with icons. I grew up in a parish where we had Sunday Mass in the school auditorium. We had a movable altar and I never heard anyone comment that they did't feel like they were in the presence of the Lord during Mass. The parish church was several blocks away from the school. I attended Mass on a cruise ship...converted movie theater....I felt the presence of the Lord. What about Mass being said on battlefields and on battleships? Yes, I love all the icons, but it is ambience, not essence.
As I mentioned in the comment box, we must distinguish between times when Catholic symbols are absent out of necessity and when they are absent by choice. I frequently attend Mass at St. Raymond of Penafort parish on Saturday evenings. They celebrate Mass in a local firehouse as they await the completion of their church building. They bring in a crucifix, a beautiful statue of Mary, and a tabernacle. As you enter for Mass, you can pick up a small foam cushion to serve as your kneeler. The music is sung a cappella. The congregation is reverent. There is no question that this parish appreciates the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I also refer you back to the blog by the Marine chaplain, Fr. Deusterhaus. He describes his minimalist surroundings but the Marines knelt on stone at the presence of our Lord. There is also a very moving picture on display at the newly opened Marine Corps Museum in Quantico. A priest is celebrating Mass in the field. The troops kneel in the mud. They have constructed a make shift communion rail.
Contrast this to the parishes that willingly remove any symbol or sign that Christ is present. The tabernacle is hidden. The cross has no corpus. There is no holy water. The building is devoid of any representation of saints. The focus becomes those who have gathered rather than He who has redeemed us. This is not to say that all church architecture must resemble the Vatican. I attended Mass in a beautiful small church in Arizona. The style clearly incorporated features of area’s Native American heritage. There was not a lot of gold and glitter. (The vessels used at Communion were appropriately of a noble metal. No pottery.) Yet, this was clearly a Catholic church. The tabernacle was prominently placed in the sanctuary. There was a crucifix. There were depictions of the saints.
My daughter the aspiring architect believes church architecture is a profession of faith. What are we professing if we choose to have only an empty room? My fighter pilot husband proclaims “Train like you fight. Fight like you train.” If you “train” or worship with no sense of the awe or majesty of the Eucharist, how will you ever grasp that which the Catechism states should be the source and summit of our Christian life? I believe there has long been a similar phrase in the church: Lex orandi, Lex credendi. The manner of our prayer is the manner of our belief.
So the real issue is not a matter of church beauty or artistic merit. Rather, the call to bring back the tabernacle as well as Catholic iconography into our sanctuaries is a call to bring back the visible and physical reminders of the central dogmas of our faith as a sublime form of catechesis.