Benedict and Beauty: Pope Calls for the Flourishing of the Arts
The Artist, like the Church, is a witness to the beauty of faith
This emphasis on beauty is a core teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. It is a profoundly important part of the Catholic vision of reality. Beauty is a path to God who is the source of all beauty.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, the Pontifical Academies held their seventeenth public session on the theme "The Artist, like the Church, is a witness to the beauty of faith". At the session, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B read a message from Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope expressed, "the desire of the Church to rediscover the joy of common reflection and concerted action, with the aim of restoring the theme of beauty as the focus of attention within ecclesial communities, civil society and the world of culture".
Benedict XVI often addresses beauty as a path to God. In a General Audience held on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 in Castel Gandolfo, he reminded 5,000 pilgrims of the universal human response to beauty as reflected in a sculpture, a painting, a poem or a beautiful piece of music.
The Pope said it is "something bigger, something that speaks, capable touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul. How many times, then, can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or the conversion of the heart."
The Pope said that works of art "open the door to the infinite, to a beauty and a truth that goes beyond the ordinary. A work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart. Perhaps sometimes, before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of a poem or a song, you have experienced deep within an intimate emotion, a sense of joy, that is to have clearly perceived that in front of you there was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds, but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; elevating the soul.
"The work of art is the fruit of human creativity, which questions the visible reality, trying to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of shapes, colors, sounds. (It) is an open door on the infinite (which) opens the eyes of the mind, of the heart. One example of this is when we visit a Gothic cathedral; we are enraptured by the vertical lines that shoot up towards the sky and draw our eyes and our spirits upwards, while at the same time, we feel small, and yet eager for fullness."
"Or when we enter a Romanesque church: we are spontaneously invited to recollection and prayer. We feel as if the faith of generations were enclosed in these splendid buildings. Or, when we hear a piece of sacred music that vibrates the strings of our heart, our soul expands and helped to turn to God. "
"A concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Munich, directed by Leonard Bernstein, again comes to my mind. After the last piece of music, one of the Cantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed something of the faith of the great composer to me and pressed me to praise and thank the Lord ".
He asked, " how many times have paintings or frescoes, the fruit of the faith of the artist, in their forms, their colors, in their light, encouraged us to direct our thoughts to God and nourish in us the desire to draw from the source of all beauty. What a great artist, Marc Chagall, wrote remains true, that for centuries painters have dipped their paintbrush in that colored alphabet that is the Bible."
"How many times then can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or for the conversion of the heart! Paul Claudel, a poet, playwright, and French diplomat, in the Basilica of Notre Dame in Paris, in 1886, while he was listening to the singing of the Magnificat at Christmas Mass, felt God's presence. He had not entered the church for reasons of faith, but to in search of arguments against Christians, and instead the grace of God worked in his heart".
The Pope challenged the pilgrims "to rediscover the importance of this path for prayer, for our living relationship with God. The cities and towns all over the world preserve works of art that express the faith and remind us of our relationship with God."
"Visiting places of art, it is not only an occasion for cultural enrichment, but above all it can be a moment of grace, an encouragement to strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord, to stop and contemplate, in the transition from simple external reality to a deeper reality, the ray of beauty that strikes us, that almost wounds us in our inner selves and invites us to rise towards God."
This emphasis on beauty is a core teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. This was also true of his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II. It is a profoundly important part of the Catholic vision of reality. Beauty is a path to God who is the source of all beauty.
On November 21, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI met with 250 Artists in the Sistine Chapel. He told them they were "custodians of beauty," and asked them to be "heralds and ...
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