Yesterday we began On the Pathway towards the Beauty of Christ. Let’s finish the thought today:
The pastoral work of the Church, which leads people to meet Christ, finds in the presentation of beauty the means to wake up hearts for this discovery.
This is exactly right. What frustrates the presentation of beauty is the aloof, intellectual approach: apologetics, catechisms, and the like. Not that these are bad. It’s more a matter of being incomplete. One leg of a horse. One section in an orchestra. What is missing in these examples is the beauty of a two-person exploration and collaboration in truth-seeking. Education from the pages of books rather than inclusive of images, travel, discussion, and yes, even arguments.
In the Letter to Artists, Pope John Paul II underlined the richness of the novelty of the Incarnation: “In becoming man, the Son of God has introduced into human history all the evangelical wealth of the true and the good, and with this he has also unveiled a new dimension of beauty, of which the Gospel message is filled to the brim.” (n.5) This unique and particular beauty of the “Son of Man” reveals itself in the face of the “Beautiful Shepherd”, and also in the transfigured Christ of Tabor, and in Christ crucified devoid of corporal beauty, the “Man of Sorrows”.
I agree with this. One must look past expectations of beauty, and gaze more deeply into the reality of the Cross.
The Christian sees in the deformity of the suffering servant, despoiled of all exterior beauty, the manifestation of the infinite love of God, who even clothes himself with the ugliness of sin to raise us up, beyond the senses, to the divine beauty which is above all other beauty and never alters. For those who wish to contemplate it, the icon of the Crucified with disfigured face contains the mysterious beauty of God. This beauty is fulfilled in in pain and sorrow, in the gift of self without personal gain. It is the beauty of love which is stronger than evil or death.
The triumph of life over death, of good over evil: these realities, however they are depicted in song, poetry, iconography, sculpture, architecture, paintings, or any form–these are the most beautiful of all the Christian firmament of offerings to the world and to the members of the Body.
A reminder that 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