Let’s finish up section II-2, and the question, How can the Via Pulchritudinis be a Response?
To travel the way of beauty implies educating the youth for beauty, helping them develop a critical spirit to discern the various offerings of media culture, and aid them shape their senses and their character to grow and lead into true maturity.
Education is fine, but let’s make sure we’re not talking art history or music appreciation as a classroom venture as a primary venture. Some of this will be needful in the homily at school Masses, but also addressed to children in the Sunday assembly. It is also a matter for mentors, people like confirmation sponsors. Especially if such women and men can witness with integrity, and not be a mere teacher. I think care will be needed because many aspects of “media culture” present figures as worthy of imitation. Cutting down the role models of young people can have an effect contrary to what is desired. Better to convincingly present alternative heroes and witness as to why these people mattered for the sponsor or leader.
Is not “kitsch culture” only a typical outcry of those living in fear of responding to the call to undergo a profound transformation?
Not always. Some people just have no experience with beauty as something more than a decoration in their environment.
Saint Augustine is a worthy guide for any of us:
After long refusing this “passion”, St Augustine underwent his own deep transformation of the soul provoked by meeting the beauty of God. In the Confessions, he recalls with sadness and bitterness the lost times and missed occasions, and, in some unforgettable passages, he relives his tormented journey in the search for the truth and for God. In a sort of illumination he rediscovers God and seizes Him as “the Truth itself,” (X, 24) source of pure joy and authentic good: “Late have I loved you, O beauty, so old and so new, too late have I loved you! You were here and I sought elsewhere; I was deformed, drowning in those fair forms you made. […] You called. You shouted. You battered my deafness. You shone. You glistened. You shattered my blindness. You radiated and I breathed in your spirit, and I desired you. I tasted you and hungered, thirsted after you. You touched me and I burned for your peace. [St Augustine, Confessions, X, 27] This experience of meeting the God of Beauty is an event lived in the totality of being and not only in the senses. Hence the confession: “Num possumus amare nisi pulchra?” (De musica 6, 13, 38, “What can we love if not beauty?”)
This is the sort of witness that people in today’s Church will need to provide–popes, bishops, pastors, parents, godparents and sponsors, catechists, mentors, visible leaders in parishes and schools. Failing that, young people will look to secular culture. Because the advertisers in that culture know how to sell, how to appeal to people, and they have their agenda, the engine of economics, to motivate them. When the Church uncovers its deeper motivation, we will be able to offer alternatives.
The full document is here.
Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60404628