Via Pulchritudinis: The Beauty of the Arts, Specific Pastoral Proposals 1-3

Let’s look at the first three of seven Pastoral Proposals for section III-2 The Beauty of the Arts

There is some history with some of these. Some are better ideas than others. Some haven’t been seriously considered.

Some initiatives have already been tried and tested and merit further attention:

– Dialogue with artists—painters, sculptors, architects for future church buildings, restorers, musicians, poets, playwrights, etc.—in order to foster a new creativity, nourish their imagination with the sources of the faith, and foster relations between the desires of the Church and the production of artists. Liturgical illiteracy among artists chosen to construct churches is a problem all too widespread.

How would such dialogues take place? One thought would be a conference. My inspiration for looking at this document was study inspired by this past summer’s Notre Dame Conference on disaffiliation. One week looked at beuaty in the liturgy, but overall, the effort, though a very good one, was heavy on theologians. One of twelve happened to be an artist as well as a pastoral leader.

Perhaps poets were included in the consultation for the Roman Missal Third Edition, but looking at it from the outside, it appeared to me language scholars with a lean to the accurate and inelegant were the priority. Overall grade for the Church: we have a lot of work to do on this one.

– Formation in the beauty of the Christian mystery expressed in sacred art on the occasion of the inauguration of a new Church, a work of art, a concert, a particular liturgy.

This has been one for which I’ve found good fruit over the years. Organ and piano recitals when an instrument is acquired or repaired. The crucifix commissioned when my last parish renovated. Part of that effort was the interview of three artists by the liturgy committee. It was a good introduction to the experience of dialogue with artists and learning about their particular approach. The commissioning process is part of the learning, the formation, and the conversations with people who might be on the peripheries of sacred art. Or, of course, deeply engaged by them.

– Organization of cultural and artistic events—exhibitions, prize competitions, concerts, conferences, festivals, etc.—to value the immense patrimony of the Church and help it deliver its message and inspire new creativity, especially in the areas of art and liturgical chant.

I think this list, while overall good, is somewhat incomplete as it leans more to “high” art or the classical/traditional spheres. In one parish I served, my organist offered lessons to interested children and teens. Near the conclusion of the school year, she asked to schedule a recital of the organ students. What a delightful idea. I was thrilled to engage it.

The list of mainstream events in suggestion number 3, above, is quite useful. Competitions for composers I see now and then. Not every expression of cultural gathering need be a prize-awarding one. Many places have St Cecilia Day celebrations. My last archdiocese arranged a session for choirs near the November 22nd feast day. There were no judges or trophies or medals. Everybody presented one or two pieces, sang a combined work or two, and enjoyed time spent with one another and with visitors and supporters. It seems like parishes, dioceses, and even schools could offer opportunities to showcase student-crafted art on some occasion or other.

Tomorrow: four more proposals.

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,

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Art, evangelization, Via Pulchritudinis. Bookmark the permalink.

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