As with yesterday’s post on the first paragraph concerning “The Way of Beauty, Pathway towards the Truth and the Good” we have a long footnote in the middle of the narrative. Starting here, we reassert the importance of touching people’s hearts and not just their analytical brain:
Indeed, far from renouncing to propose Truth and Good, which are at the heart of the Gospel, it is a case of following a path that can let them reach the hearts of (people) and their cultures.[*]
* Fr Turoldo, a singer of beauty, reports this affirmation of Divo Barsotti: “The mystery of beauty! When truth and the good do not become beauty, truth and good seem to remain strangers to folk, imposing themselves on the human person from outside; man adheres to them, but does not possess them; they demand of him an obeisance which is sort of mortifying.” And he draws the following conclusions: “The truth and the good are not sufficient to create a culture, because alone, they do not seem to be enough to create a communion, a unity of life between men. And as culture is the very expression of individual development, of a sort of perfection reached, it follows that culture seems to express itself most clearly in beauty.” Cf. “Bellezza”, in Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia, Ed. Paoline, 1985, p. 222-223.
A bit of clarity on internal organs. The ancient Jews saw the heart as the seat not of emotions, but of the will. Maybe things have shifted in human awareness over the past two or three millennia. But really, it is how the human mind perceives the world. Pope Paul VI’s citation from Evangelii Nuntiandi about people rings true. They respond most readily to witnesses, and if they do respond to teachers, it is because the teachers are witnesses. The insight of this holds here. A simple lecture can be given: A is the truth; B is good; C is a lie; D is bad. It can be correct, but it can also fail to convince, easy as it is to track letters with qualities. Human beings are created to be drawn to God by attraction. As AA would call it in the eleventh tradition, not by promotion. The modern world indulges the preaching in advertising, wrapping things in pretty things.
This current age needs more than people saying, “This is true; this is good.”
The world urgently needs this, as Pope Paul VI underlined in his vibrant Message to Artists on 8 December 1965 at the end of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council: “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. It is beauty, like truth, which brings joy to the heart of man and is that precious fruit which resists the wear and tear of time, which unites generations and makes them share things in admiration.” [Cf. cited by John Paul II, Letter to Artists, n. 11] Contemplated with a pure soul, beauty speaks directly to the heart, turning astonishment to marvel, admiration to gratitude, happiness to contemplation.
Well, none of us are pure. But many people aspire to something greater. A soul ready to be lifted, ready to respond to God will well find the beckoning of beauty.
Thereby it creates a fertile terrain to listen and dialogue with (women and) men, engaging the whole (person)—spirit and heart, intelligence and reason, creative capacity and imagination. It is unlikely to result in indifference; it provokes emotions, it puts in movement a dynamism of deep interior transformation that engenders joy, feelings of fullness, desire to participate freely in this same beauty, making it one’s own in interiorizing it and integrating it into one’s own concrete existence.
This is an optimism, but not an unreasonable one. What do you think?
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