Built of Living Stones 144-145: Ambiguity and Joy

Sacred art is more than just a representation of single realities. Good art is always multivalent, and in the cross, Christians have an image with a host of meanings.

§ 144 § The central image of Christianity is the cross, calling to mind the passion, resurrection, and Christ’s final coming in glory. Every work of Christian art or architecture shares in this image and embraces the ambiguities of suffering and death, healing and resurrection, recognizing that “by his wounds we are healed.” Such art draws from the mystery of redemption a unique power to provoke and invite the world more deeply into the mysteries of our faith.

§ 145 § Likewise, Christian art is also a product of “spontaneous spiritual joy” that challenges believers to complete the reign of God for which they hope.(Cf. CCC 2500-2503, 2513) Born from an ecstatic love of God, Christian beauty proclaims something new and original, manifesting itself as an echo of God’s own creative act.

Sacred art is not an end to itself. It should move believers to join in the mission of Christ, and to proclaim the reality of God.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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