San Diego, Calif., Oct 4, 2013 / 04:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Beauty must play a central role in our efforts for evangelization and cultural renewal, because it is a gift from God to lead us to him, Bishop James D. Conley said in an address at a recent apologetics conference.
“Our New Evangelization must work to make truth beautiful. By means both ancient and new, we must make use of beauty – to infuse Western culture, once more, with the spirit of the Gospel,” the Bishop of Lincoln said Sept. 28 in his keynote address at the Catholic Answers National Apologetics Conference in San Diego.
“By means of earthly beauty, we can help our contemporaries discover the truth of the Gospel. Then, they may come to know the eternal beauty of God.”
Bishop Conley told CNA on Oct. 1 that his decision to focus on beauty and culture at an apologetics conference was well-received, and that Catholic Answer’s development director, Christopher Check, “thought it was a real sort of game-changer,” because apologetics efforts can often be rejected by those with a relativistic mindset, who are not even open to entering into a standard apologetics discussion.
But to lead with beauty “opens (others) up to consider the argument” in a way they might not otherwise, the bishop reflected.
Bishop Conley opened the address by sharing a story of his first session of spiritual direction when he entered seminary. Spiritual direction typically involves a detailed discussion with a priest.
When he arrived for his first meeting, the priest, Fr. Anton Morganroth, who had fled Nazi Germany, was playing a Mozart sonata, and proceeded to finish it.
“After a few moments of silence, eager to get started,” Bishop Conley shared, “I broke the silence and said: ‘so are we going to have spiritual direction, father?’ Fr. Morganroth turned and stared right through me and said: ‘son, zat was your spiritual direction, you can go now.’”
This example of being caught up in beauty is a demonstration of how the transcendental can open minds and hearts to “the realities of the spiritual life,” the bishop said.
He emphasized that evangelization is concerned not only with individuals, but with transformation of culture as well.
“We’re starting to get a sense of our cultural mission,” Bishop Conley said. “Catholics are working to recover our traditions, and to build community … to foster a way of life that is true, good, and beautiful.”
He added that (Read More)