In part 3 we are considering The Beauty of Christ, Model and Prototype of Christian Holiness. In part A) we find ourselves On the Pathway towards the Beauty of Christ.
The absolutely original and singular beauty of Christ, model of a “truly beautiful life,” is reflected in the holiness of a life transformed by Grace.
There is a “but.”
Unfortunately, many people perceive Christianity as a submission to commandments made up of prohibitions and limits applied to personal liberty.
It is important to recognize the source of prohibitions and limits. Religious leaders from schoolteachers to the top prelates present injustices, excesses, and a distance from ordinary people. It has always been so. Catholic educators have embraced a mission for many decades, yet the stories persist: nuns with rulers perhaps foremost. Let’s not go deeply into fraud, embezzlement, and theft in the clergy, nor the cover-up of sinful behavior all through the hierarchy. It a Romans 7:15 lament for the institution: they don’t give the witness they know they should, and they indulge a witness contrary to the image and intent of the Lord.
Even a gentle voice of a pope cannot totally stem the momentum of a time of service that included unfair and ill-treatment of believers:
Pope Benedict XVI referred to this in an interview with Vatican Radio 14 August 2005 just before leaving for the World Youth Day at Cologne. He went on to say, “I, on the other hand, would rather help people understand that to be supported by a great Love and by a Revelation is not a burden: it gives wings, and it’s beautiful to be Christian. This experience lets us grow […] The joy of being Christian is beauty, and it is right to believe it.”
Pope Benedict XVI was not wrong, and certainly he believed what he said. Yet great ugliness mars our efforts to present beauty not only to the world, but to our own sisters and brothers in belief. Here is the footnote to this part:
[This idea has been developed by the prior of the community of Bosé, Enzo Bianchi, who exhorts that we learn “how to proclaim Christian difference” as a response to indifference: “Either Christianity is philokalic, love of beauty, via pulchritudinis, way of beauty, or it is nothing. And if it is the way of beauty, it will attract others onto the path it is following toward a life stronger than death, it will be a sequence of Evangelic Saints for the men and women of our times.”Cf. E. BIANCHI, “Perché e come evangelizzare di fronte all’indifferentismo”, in Vita e pensiero 2, 2005, p. 92-93]
One thing that might effectively counteract the poor example of those in authority is the positive witness of today’s laity. I would think this means not just artists, important as they are to the cause of the via pulchritudinis. We cannot allow the discouragement we feel at the ugliness perpetrated by those in the Church to dislodge us from the greater mission.
From interior beauty and the deep emotion provoked by a meeting with Beauty in person—we think of the experience of St Augustine—springs forth the capacity to propose events of beauty in all dimensions of existence and the experience of faith.
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