There are artistic expressions that are true roads to God, the supreme Beauty -- indeed, they are a help [to us] in growing in our relationship with Him in prayer. We are referring to works of art that are born of faith, and that express the faith. We see an example of this whenever we visit a Gothic cathedral: We are ravished by the vertical lines that reach heavenward and draw our gaze and our spirit upward, while at the same time, we feel small and yet yearn to be filled. … Or again, when we listen to a piece of sacred music that makes the chords of our heart resound, our soul expands and is helped in turning to God.
I remember a concert performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach -- in
in Munich -- conducted by
Leonard Bernstein. At the conclusion of the final selection, one of the
Cantate, I felt -- not through reasoning, but in the depths of my heart -- that
what I had just heard had spoken truth to me, truth about the supreme composer,
and it moved me to give thanks to God. Seated next to me was the Lutheran
bishop of Bavaria . I spontaneously
said to him: "Whoever has listened to this understands that faith is
true" -- and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God's
Dear friends, I invite you to rediscover the importance of this way for prayer, for our living relationship with God. Cities and countries throughout the world house treasures of art that express the faith and call us to a relationship with God. Therefore, may our visits to places of art be not only an occasion for cultural enrichment -- also this -- but may they become, above all, a moment of grace that moves us to strengthen our bond and our conversation with the Lord, [that moves us] to stop and contemplate -- in passing from the simple external reality to the deeper reality expressed -- the ray of beauty that strikes us, that "wounds" us in the intimate recesses of our heart and invites us to ascend to God.
Reflection – I’ve been posting a bit sporadically lately: I just finished a parish mission, and was in a rectory where wi-fi access was limited… anyhow, time is still much lacking, so here is the rest of the Pope’s general audience on art and beauty, with minimal commentary from me.
Perhaps, though, as we enter the Year of Faith it is worth mentioning that this beauty found in the arts is a key way of evangelization, and that we would do well to look for ways to promote beauty of art, music, literature in our social and social media circles this year. Beauty is the splendour and goodness of the truth shining forth – it is a powerful mode of evangelization.