We have reached the final considerations of the document Via Pulchritudinis, The Beauty of Christ, Model and Prototype of Christian Holiness. And here are some Pastoral Proposals to wrap up our discussion. Pope John Paul II offered encouragement to find the Lord’s beauty in the liturgy:
For the closure of the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II sent the apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte to the whole Church. He expressly invited us to re-begin in Christ and to learn to contemplate His face. From this contemplation springs forth the desire, the necessity and the urgency to rediscover the authentic meaning of the mystery of the Christian liturgy in which it concretely lives out the meeting with the Savior who died and rose again. [Cf. Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, 28 June 2003, n. 66-73; Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 17 April 2003; Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum, 17 October 2004. G. Vecerrica, Diamo forma alla bellezza della vita Cristiana, Lettera pasotrale, Fabriano 2006]
This is less, perhaps, a matter of some notion of “correct” observance of liturgical laws and rubrics. The Holy Father saw the liturgy as one locus where the believer can contemplate the reality of Jesus, and what he means to his disciple.
Two pastoral letters of Italian bishops are referenced:
To meet this call, many bishops sent Pastoral Letters to their dioceses on the beauty of salvation and the meaning of the liturgical celebration underlining the beauty of the meeting with Christ, on Sundays, the day consecrated to Him, which gives time for pause in the relentless and frenetic rhythm of our societies. [Cf., for example, C.M. Martini, Quale bellezza salverà il mondo? Pastoral Letter 1999-2000, Milan 1999; B. Forte, Perché andare a messa la domenica. L’Eucaristia e la bellezza di Dio, Cinisello Balsamo 2004]
I like this brief reference to Sunday–not so much as a day of rest (which it certainly can be). But as a time for weekly consecration and contemplation. Rest from work and other labors is not just intended for the good of the human body and mind (which it certainly is). Sunday also affords time for reflection on the grace and beauty of Christ as we perceive the world around us.
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