Benedict XVI and the Way of Beauty

 Something unusual is revealed here as well: the house of God is the true house of humans.  It becomes the house of humans even more the less it tries to be this and the more it is simply put up for him.  — Pope Benedict XVI

In modern memory, has there been a Pope who has been so outspoken on the topic of art, architecture, and music as Pope Benedict XVI? Central to his thinking was the idea that art and architecture can speak to us.  Benedict taught that architecture should make visible the invisible and point us toward the infinite. “I did once say that to me art and the saints are the greatest apologetics for our faith.” For instance, in describing Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling he exposits, “In that moment of contact between the finger of God and the finger of man, we perceive the point of contact between heaven and earth; in Adam God enters into a new relationship with his Creation, man is in direct relationship with Him, he is called by Him, he is in the image and likeness of God.” During his homily at the dedication of the church of the Sagrada Família in 2010 the Pope said, “Gaudí, by opening his spirit to God, was capable of creating in this city a space of beauty, faith and hope which leads man to an encounter with him who is truth and beauty itself.” In fact, during his travels Pope Benedict XVI often commented on great art and architecture and their meaning for believers.

In celebrating the liturgy, Pope Benedict modeled a vision of beauty. Under his eight year reign, a number of new liturgical elements were designed for Saint Peter’s basilica that reflected continuity with tradition: a cathedra canopy for outdoor masses, a new ambo, and beautiful vestments. In his use of the altar rail for giving out communion and his employment of the “Benedictine arrangement” of large crucifix and candlesticks placed on the altar he inspired many Bishops and priests to follow his lead.  The intention of these initiatives, he explained, was to re-focus the celebration of the liturgy on Christ rather than on the community that it had become. “The turning of the priest towards the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself.” Pope Benedict offered a remedy to the man-centered church, by returning the crucifix to the center of the altar and “whenever possible, we should definitely take up again the apostolic tradition of facing the east, both in the building of churches and in the celebration of the liturgy.” Papal liturgies were models of both, including mass ad orientem on certain occasions.

Running through all of his teachings on art, architecture, and music was Pope Benedict’s theology of beauty.  Beauty was seen as fundamental to faith and to the perception of truth.  Furthermore, he saw beauty as the finest expression of faith, hope and love.  In speaking to artists he said, “Let truth shine brightly in your works and make their beauty elicit in the gaze and in the hearts of those who admire them, the desire and need to make their existence beautiful and true, every existence, enriching it with that treasure which is never lacking which makes life a work of art and every man an extraordinary artist: charity, love.” Not surprising that he often brought the concept of beauty into his homilies and addresses.  He spoke about the “via pulchritudinis,” or the way of beauty, whose deepest meaning must be recovered by men and women today. “However some expressions are real highways to God, the supreme Beauty; indeed they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer. These are works that were born from faith and express faith. We can see an example of this when we visit a Gothic cathedral: we are enraptured by the vertical lines that soar skywards and uplift our gaze and our spirit, while at the same time we feel small yet long for fullness.”

It was Pope Benedict’s love of baroque art and architecture that is such a revelation for English-speaking Catholics. He explains that “in line with the tradition of the West, the Council [of Trent] again emphasized the didactic and pedagogical character of art, but, as a fresh start toward interior renewal, it led once more to a new kind of seeing that comes from and returns within. The altarpiece is like a window through which the world of God comes out to us. The curtain of temporality is raised, and we are allowed a glimpse into the inner life of the world of God. This art is intended to insert us into the liturgy of heaven. Again and again, we experience a Baroque church as a unique kind of fortissimo of joy, an Alleluia in visual form.”

To those who see the promotion of traditional art, architecture, and music as merely an act of nostalgia it must be pointed out that the Pope saw the great masterpieces of Western art as living witnesses to the eternal faith.  The Sistine chapel, Gothic cathedrals, and baroque altarpieces continue to speak to those who have eyes to see.  The relation between tradition and innovation in Benedict’s thought grows out of Vatican II in which “any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” So what about the place of creativity in new works? “An art that lost the root of transcendence would not be oriented to God; it would be a halved art, it would lose its living root; and a faith that had art only in the past would no longer be faith in the present; and today it must be expressed anew as truth that is always present.”

Editor’s note: This editorial first appeared in Volume 23 (Spring 2013) of Sacred Architecture and is reprinted with permission. See footnotes of original version for sources of quotations.

Duncan G. Stroik

By

Duncan G. Stroik is a professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame where he helped implement a new curriculum in classical architecture in 1990. He played a central role in the revival of interest in sacred architecture that led to the formation of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and the journal Sacred Architecture, of which he is editor. He is the author, most recently, of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal (2012).

  • Don

    Many years ago I was a student of architecture. I changed majors but had I had the pleasure of a professor with the insights provided by this article, I may have had the interest to stay with it. Very nicely explained Professor Stroik!

  • Iréne

    What a great pope Benedict XVI was! He understood with his great wisdom and brilliant intellect that appreciation and deep understanding of beauty would have to be restored in the CC.
    What we hear at Mass in ordinary parishes in Italy and Spain , especially in the South of Spain, is to us simply heartbreaking; no music whatsoever or pop music of the worst sort.
    Banal. Undignified for the liturgy, to say the least. The homilies can be excellent, the priest very solid and trustworthy, inspiring, and then all this unbearable noise, made worse even by amplifiers and loudspeakers at disco level, more or less. And the parishioners seem to think that this is the only way, totally unaware of the great tradition of the CC.
    It is rare, even in countries in northern Europe, to encounter clergy who appreciate Beautiful Music, gregorian chant and or classical Music. In particular maong those 50 and above. “I find the Missa Angelis so boring”, one priest once said, when I praised the same. “I love rock Music”, one German Franciskan nun told me, when I expressed dismay at a rock band invading the Church shortly after Mass, turning the whole Church into a stage for themselves to express worldly and often anti christian attitudes and values.
    Another example ;(since I think that here we need to know what is going on in so many parishes) A German priest openly chastises anyone with a great talent; he sincerely Believes that “Active participation” is synonymous to everyone, anyone, singing during Mass, regardless if he/she cannot even produce one single straight tune. His attitude is that the talented parishioners should step aside, since they are an obstacle to “Active participation”. This attitude, needless to say, creates much unnecessary suffering and misunderstanding, as well as harming relations. Clearly, he and many other priests, do not consider an outstanding talent as sth given by God, but sth superfluous.
    At any great event, be it WYD, a big family festivity, whatever, the only thing we hear is-pop and rock. Performed by total amateusr who may be very nice people, I am sure, but nevertheless demonstrate disturbing signs of narcissism and lack of self criticism. It is mind boggling that all of this- apparently- is encouraged and promoted in the CC, even at the highest level among Church officials.
    Martin Mosebach is very critical to the way the liturgy has been allowed to deteriorate, as well as Msgr Cardinal Bartolucci, who, together with other prominent experts on liturgy and Music were ignored over decades. With the beautiful exception of Benedict XVI, and some other experts.
    So, the crucial question now is: what will happen after Benedict on this matter?
    What we hear from the Vatican and others is one thing; What we actually see is another.
    we certainly don´t need more iconoclasm in the area of liturgy and music, nor vestments or art. Quite the contrary, since the secular world drowns us in ugliness and banality all over. The CC should stand up to Beauty in all its forms and expressions. Being “counter cultural” cannot be restricted to some areras of the Church.

  • lifeknight

    Thank you for the article which caused me to lament the “wreckovations” of beautiful churches throughout the world! Although I have run for cover into a TLM atmosphere, the church in which the Holy Mass is said is one of the most “modern” monstracities around! How sad that barns have replaced true art!

  • Pingback: The Catholic Hour » “Benedict XVI and the Way of Beauty” by Duncan G. Stroik()

  • Paul Tran

    Deeply worrying … Why should traditional Catholic church buildings begin with the Gothic tradition, and what happened before that ? re we to condemned Romanesque and others before ?
    I see old church buildings as physical manifestations of faith from the past. However, these buildings – as beautiful as they may be – are devoided of the teachings of Christ, mainly in humility and humbleness, but more of an exercise in opulence.

    • R. K. Ich

      And why shouldn’t the church pour monies into grand monuments that preach even when human voices are silent?

      Let’s tease this out a bit on a more intimate level. A man and woman love each other and decide to marry. Families on both side pour out a prodigious amount of money to throw a wedding party that would last for days, complete with entertainers, decorations, fancy clothing — the works. No expense was spared for the sake of celebration. Now, have these families thrown an illicit celebration? Have they sinned by not giving these riches to the poor? Or do we recognize the greatness of the celebration and all the accoutrements are fitting for the greatness of the event of the marriage?

      The Church, too, is free to build soul-moving monuments that preach Christ. By the way, the soulless, banal architecture that characterizes a great bulk of post-50’s worship spaces (Catholic or otherwise) preaches nothing of the virtues of humility and modesty. They are monuments to the hubris at work that has rejected the old Model, the old Image, that could produce a cathedral of Chartres, or a Hagia Sophia, or a St. Paul’s Cathedral. They were opulent, but justifiably so — even if men might have had their own renown in the mix. But the newer buildings are an exposition of precisely how little and tame we have made Jehovah in our eyes.

    • R. K. Ich

      Oh, yes, as for the old architecture being “[devoid] of the teachings of Christ” — are you sure you can stand by that assertion? Have you surveyed the stained glass windows with the story of redemption splashed across them in brilliance and splendor? Have you studied the cruciform architecture? Considered the eight-sided baptismal fonts conspicuously blocking the entry if the church, indicating one must be born by water and Spirit to enter the kingdom of God? What have you missed here? Or is it maybe a commentary on your unwillingness to see Christ crucified in the very stones and arches of the architecture? I can only hope it’s a lack of catechesis that keeps you in darkness, but these buildings are anything but Christless.

    • TomD

      The scribe asks Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answers, “”The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'” (Mk 12:28-30, RSV-CE)

      The greatest commandment, given to us by Christ himself, is to love God . . . with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Traditional Church architecture reflects this love of God. And as with the anointing of Jesus, some believers have always criticized the display of “opulence” toward God, to which Jesus replied, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mk 14:6, RSV-CE).

      Paul, you’re right, in a way, about “. . . old church buildings as physical manifestations of faith from the past.” The past, when we worshiped in glory, wonder and splendor the transcendent God and not our own internal impression of God.

  • musicacre

    Great article pointing out yet again the depth, sensitivity and brilliance of Benedict XVI! I learn something every time I read about him. I wish you could have elaborated more on the music also. Knowing that he was a classically trained musician, Benedict must have had some thoughts on this!
    Just touching briefly on my own (very recent) experience is a story about my husband. I attend the TLM whenever I can tor 2 reasons: 1) I love it, and 2) our daughter runs the choir. The Mass is in a city one hour away, which means travelling over a mountain. My husband has heard the kids play classical music for the past 20 years or so, and also loves the traditional Mass, but that extra effort required, he usually doesn’t go. Anyways we were there a few weeks ago for a high Mass and the quartet choir was singing Palestrina in 4-part harmony and he was absolutely transported temporarily, into another world…now he is seriously upset about having to go back and attend the Novus Ordo in our neighborhood, which by the way has retained old-fashioned respect and art. (but it ain’t the Latin Mass!!)

  • hombre111

    Let me get this straight. Unless the priest has a crucifix between him and the people, the Mass they share as the Body of Christ is centered on man? Oh, and the priest is more “in persona Cristi” if all people see is his back? And of course, people will believe more in the Eucharist if they don’t see the priest take the host in his hands, and bless it? And when the blessed elements are between the people and the priest, the people won’t feel like a community in the presence of Christ?

    • John O’Neill

      Back in the times immediately following Vatican II Traditional Catholics were banned from Catholic churches and had to meet in rented conference centers in motels. The American Catholics removed everything they could from traditional churches and tried to replicate cold sterile concert centers in their new churches. Traditional Catholics persevered and Benedict XVI accepted them and now the Traditional Latin mass is available almost everywhere with, of course, a little drive and effort. Meanwhile the Vatican II churches in most American cities are abandoned and in ruins. American Catholic colleges and universities are now indistinguishable from public and state controlled schools but more traditional Catholic universities have been founded and are flourishing. Thank God the Traditionalists did not give up back then.

      • hombre111

        Traditional Catholics were not banned from Catholic churches, but, under specific orders from POPE Paul VI, the Latin Mass was banned. He feared disunion. Then along came Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict, who reinstated Latin Masses, and both left a Church divided.
        I agree with you about sterile churches built to replace more beautiful traditional churches. As a very young priest, I considered it a scandal. But Vatican II churches are not in ruins, and neither are Catholic colleges and universities. Empty churches seem to be a problem in the east part of America, which has always been so traditional and institutional. In the West, where I live, churches are crowded every Sunday.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          Nonsense. If Mass in Latin were so horrible and divisive why, in the same parish, is Mass offered in English and Spanish? Now there’s a scandal that SHOULD concern you.

          • hombre111

            I offer Mass in English and Spanish. The Hispanic community has better music and a much more joyful spirit, and they are not interested in arguing about the superiority of Gregorian Chant over their Hispanic music. That is a Gringo thing. But I notice this, unlike the pious attendees of the Latin Mass, the people at the English Mass and the Spanish Mass do not boast that they are the orthodox, or truly Catholic people in town. That is why the Latin Mass divides.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      The Eucharist is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice offered to the Father in expiation of sin which renews our sonship with the Father through Christ. The Eucharistic prayer is a prayer offered to the Father by the priest on behalf of the people of God. Since it is the “community of faith” that collectively offers this prayer, it only makes sense that everyone is facing the same way, since we are all doing the same thing.

      The “versus populum” invites “priest as performer” and/ or the worse scandal – the people thinking this is all about “us.”

      • hombre111

        The Eucharist is a sacrifice. It is also a sacrificial meal. At a meal, people sit around the table together. The priest is the president of the assembly gathered together in union with Christ who is both priest and sacrifice. Even though the priest speaks the prayers, he is offering them in the name of the people together with the people. It is a dialogue, which is strange if you are speaking to someone’s back. As you said, they collectively off this prayer. And if this is a collective, it only makes sense that they gather together in something that amounts to a circle. The priest with his back to his people has no identification with the people. “All about ‘us’?” I remember well. It was “my” Mass. That is the way all the priests spoke. We didn’t “celebrate Mass,” we “said my Mass” as rapidly as possible. Lots of the old priests I knew bragged that they could “say” (not celebrate) Mass in fifteen minutes.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          “meal” “president” “assembly” “dialogue” “circle” – a theology that is spent – proof of which is that 70%+ of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. Now let’s all sing “Gather Us In.”

          • hombre111

            70%? Where did that number come from? But there is a real problem.

        • Slainte

          Who among those (of good will) standing at Golgotha witnessing the crucifixion of Our Lord was “celebrating”?

          The mass is the sacrifice of the lamb (Jesus) on the altar which we are privileged to attend through re-presentment of the Eucharist; the Catholic mass is Not a re-enactment of the Last Supper.

          The concept of a celebratory re-enactment of the Last Supper meal is a Protestant Interpretation. To conflate the Sacrifice of the Mass with a celebratory reenactment of the Last Supper is to introduce confusion among God’s people in the name of Ecumenism.

          There are better ways to unite God’s divided people than through this sort of confusion.

          • hombre111

            Hmm, a new somewhat convoluted conservative argument, or at least one with which I am not familiar. I just looked at the long introduction to the newly published Roman Missal every priest uses at Mass, which talks about “celebrating Mass,” and calls the priest “the celebrant.” Is that orthodox enough for you? For Pete’s sake, Slainte, do some homework before repeating some screed you read. I respect you too much for that.
            Mary and John were not celebrating. But they did not know that this was the sacrifice that would save us, and that Jesus would rise from the dead. The Mass we celebrate is not a hopeless look at a dying man, but our participation in the event of the passion, death, and resurrection. Are you trying to slice the resurrection out of your understanding of the Mass? Next time you attend Mass, pay attention after the consecration, when the priest says, “The mystery of faith,” and the people respond, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

            • slainte

              I acknowledge that the mass is a re-presentment of the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Christ at Golgotha which makes possible His resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. We celebrate the resurrection mindful of the suffering He endured for us.

              I take issue at any claim that the mass is (i) a meal; (ii) the altar is a table; (iii) we are celebrating the “Last Supper” at mass; (iii) there is a need for dialogue between parishioners as we stand at Golgotha witnessing the crucifixion; (iv) that anyone in addition to the priest is necessary to re-present Christ crucified as a sacrifice to the Father; (v) that the Eucharist is merely a memorial, not the Real Presence.

              Catholic tradition reminds us that the suffering Christ makes possible the risen Christ in fulfillment of the Scriptures. The bloody stained Crucifix bearing Christ’s body is present in the Catholic church to remind us of that Sacrifice.
              The bare, empty, and sanitized Cross is present in protestant churches reflecting the Reformer’s focus on a resurrection purged of all evidence of Christ’s sacrifice.

              • hombre111

                Thanks. I would not describe the mass as “a re-presentment”. I am not sure if the theologians who use this term can even explain it in an intelligible way. Following the Franciscan Duns Scotus, who talked about God’s time, with no past or future, only a present. For me, the crucifixion is a moment in God’s time. . Also, modern theologians tend to talk about the “Paschal Mystery” as a single event: Passion, death, and resurrection. I also ponder the Jewish notion of memory, which came to the fore whenever they celebrated Passover. They did not remember past events as past. For them, to remember was to become part of the event itself. And so, they did not just remember the Exodus during Passover. They joined it and walked with Moses.
                I then put all this together. Mass is a participation in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We don’t just “represent” (I am not even sure what that means). Jesus said “do this in memory of me.” And so we remember. When we remember, we are there, beside Mary and John at the foot of the cross, in a moment in God’s time that does not end. The dying Jesus looks upon us with love and makes us one with him in his suffering. The risen Christ looks on us in his glory, and we share in his resurrection.
                The Mass, including Communion, is a sacrificial meal. You will have to study what this meant when Jews offered a sacrifice that was not a holocaust. Again, some homework.

                • slainte

                  Thank you for your thoughts Father.
                  For your consideration, film of great and enduring beauty….
                  “A Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”

                  http://youtu.be/n2ePwz7FZUg

                  • hombre111

                    It was truly beautiful, slainte. I had forgotten how moving that story of Christ’s passion was. One gripe. The link led me to a video site that was half virus, that changed the settings on my web page, that caused me to have to go back and reset the thing.
                    But, all that trouble over, it was truly beautiful. Thanks.

        • Guest

          The person in front of me has his back to me. Should I be offended? Where does the nuttiness end?

          • hombre111

            No, you should not be offended. Just distant from the Body of Christ. Christ, who acts through the priest, turns his back on the people he died for, and mutters away in a language they do not understand, in a tone they cannot really hear. Now that is the epitome of nuttiness.

    • R. K. Ich

      Vandalous villains o’ vapidity vaunt,
      their music is joyless, their liturgy gaunt;
      “Tradition is dead!” they collectively taunt,
      “Your once hallow’d houses now hardly a haunt!”

      So decades of dumbed-down and dry dreadful dreck,
      Razed the cathedrals and left worship a wreck;
      To choke out the faithful, to keep them in check,
      a New Order noose was thrown round their neck.

      But the witless who willed the war that they waged,
      forgot to consider Whose Mass they encaged;
      Our Lady dishonored, our Lord stands enraged,
      Naught but repentance will make Him assuaged.

      • hombre111

        Nice doggerel.

        • R. K. Ich

          I can admit my horribly amateurish poetry reflects poor taste, cheap conventions, and broken meter wholly owed to a dismal lack of aptitude and education. What excuse do you have for defending that liturgical train wreck you seem so jazzed about?

          • hombre111

            Actually R.K., your poem was quite clever. I just could not resist giving you a whack. My excuse for what I say? Almost fifty years as a priest, and numerous classes and books on theology and liturgy.

            • R. K. Ich

              I daren’t claim your shepherding insincere or altogether ineffectual, but I have to wonder whether good intentions, classes, and enduring five decades in the service of others of necessity equate best practices. I’ve met old hippies who are perpetually stuck in their 1960’s iconoclasm, and who no doubt have invested their good will and fortunes into said ideology. Earnestness is no guarantor of taste and wisdom, but lends tenacity and inflexibility in the most dedicated of souls.

              Pax.

              • hombre111

                Being a pastor is a tough game. Attended the deanery meeting last week, with the majority of priests there 45 or younger. In other words, John Paul II priests. Same old problems: How to get people involved in work, family, and etc. to put a higher priority on spiritual things…religious education of children and youths, problems of young adults and young families, sacramental prep, larger social realities, etc.. Lots of discussion about what and how to. Didn’t sound like they had any silver bullets. Didn’t seem to be doing a whole lot better than we did. About six priests fewer in that deanery than ten years ago. In other words, they have to work effectively with lay people or fail the goals of the Church. They are having the same trouble recruiting vocations. Karma being relentless, in about thirty years, R.K. Ich, Junior is going to be complaining about what failures they wer.

                • Iman Seleman

                  Karma, Father?

                  • hombre111

                    Well, history, fate, human nature, or whatever. Made a good line at the time. :>)

                • R. K. Ich

                  Reverend Father, I suspect my genealogy of pastoral emphases, doctrinally and practically, might have a slight (!) deviation from yours. I don’t know first hand your experience and what you’ve discovered to “work” (we can spend all day teasing out that nasty four-letter word), because expectations are theologically fueled things, aren’t they?

                  Regular catachesis, evangelism, preaching, and teaching are all I can (and have to) offer to my family and parish beyond my normal call to love my neighbor as myself. How effective my efforts have been I leave to the province of the Holy Ghost since my duty is to, finally, declare the holiness of God, the lost estate of man and his coming judgment, the meritorious life, death, and resurrection of our Lord for the sins of the world as the only hope anyone can have for salvation. The “results”? Fruitful it seems — turns out people from 18 to 80 are actually interested in a Christianity with teeth. Catholic Christianity, when allowed to really speak without softening the hard edges, has this beautiful effect of transforming lives and setting imaginations on fire. The old catholic tradition of prophetic preaching seems to be what the Doctor ordered all along. Hospitals, soup kitchens, counseling, world disaster relief, all the temporal benefits we can give in the name of Jesus do not make us uniquely Church. It’s our theology that really makes a difference since any Mormon or Muslim can do any of the aforementioned things. We alone have the words of Life.

                  At the end of the day it’s our Lord who builds His Church. If I am confident He alone has the power to turn hearts and grant repentance, then my nail-biting anxiety about how I can keep church doors open, as if it were some kind of business, melts into a firm confidence that His will must accomplish the results. I can only obediently offer myself to the means He has prescribed with all the wisdom and insight that flows from the foundational Truth of our mission. Anything beyond this (as history attests) turns church into another man-made institution entangled in pop-psychology, pop-culture, and compromised truth – even if it can be called a Mega-“Church” by the world’s standards.

                  • hombre111

                    Christ became one of us in all things but sin. That means he takes our flawed, wounded humanity seriously. He did not pontificate on abstractions. He touched people, spit in the dirt, scribbled on the ground, wept, and let himself be nailed. All this cannot be captured by any number of males in gold vestments who march solemnly, make gestures people cannot see, and mutter words few can hear, in a language they do not understand. This is not the Incarnation.

    • Marcellus

      I think the author was referencing Pope Benedict in regards to these thoughts. Of course you are free to disagree, but his view does carry some weight.

  • John O’Neill

    I deeply miss Benedict XVI and his wisdom and holiness. He gave back to the Church the mystery and love of the Holy Eucharist. His brilliant theological exegeses and the many books on spirituality are a treasure. He was always a man fidelis ecclesiae and let the world see the beauty and magnificence of the Faith. I believe Francis means well but his insistence on grand standing for the American and European press does not bring a whole lot to the table but he is Peter and so forth.

  • Marianne

    The perverse conviction that lack of Beauty, that is, the promotion of uglinss, in any way would be a sign of “holiness” is just absurd And perverse. Following this weird “philosophy” we would have to assume that 100 % of all Chinese during the era of Mao, or a 100 % of all the left wing radicals/communists in the 70´s and onwards were great models of “holiness”.
    Well, of course we know they were not!
    It is very interesting, psychologically, that surprisingly many catholics (and others) are still so confused and ambiguous in their attitude to beauty. I am not a psychologist but it does seem to me that not one single person, catholic or not, I have met who strongly defies all beauty, usually give the impression of having problems. Actually, some of them even allow this attitude to spill over into distrust and sometimes even harsh treatment/calumny even, of people who are “beautiful”. That is, a Deep seated, almost hatred of beaut,y in whatever form it takes, be it in the beauty of a church, music, art, human beings…
    The very same people would not hesitate to praise officially “the gifts” of others but they definitely don´t put it into practice in real life.
    Is short: we, who love and endorse Beauty in the Church, in all forms, just like Benedict XVI, MUST STAND UP FOR OUR LOVE OF BEAUTY, not just keep it tyo ourselves. As we can see, our opponents to Beauty are not asleep; they are very active and very insistent.
    Until we ourselves BURN for the preservation and Creation of Beauty in the Church, the enemy will become stronger.
    What can you do? Well, very simple; next time you hear someone singing or playing very well at Mass, let especially your parish priest know that you enjoyed it very much.
    Don´t pretend that you like the new plastic lamps .
    Kindly suggest to your paris priest, next time he is wearing worn out blue jeans (blue jeans have become “holy” in society and in the Church) as well) under his vestments, and gym shoes, that it would be more respectful AND Beautiful to wear dark, ordinary, ironed pants and proper shoes.

  • Katalina

    I for one really miss the Pope Emeritus and his emphasis on Beauty which is now lacking in the current simple pontificate. Look at how Francis celebrates his daily Mass at St Martha’s. Thanks to Benedict many churches in this country and else where have been restored more so than even the Pope before him with his altar girls. Benedict Thought carefully before he spoke and he was simple as well but clear as crystal. His emphasis on Beauty has to be continued by the faithful because it is part of our sacred Patrimony. BTW it is not vain or pompous trappings as some who love Francis have been claiming and still are.

  • Pingback: The Root of Transcendence | Credo: Develop, Acknowledge, Respond()

MENU