Here’s a book for anyone who wants to participate in the re-establishment of a culture of beauty.
In the quadrivium of the liberal arts – the ‘four ways’ of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy – students learn not only the language of mathematics in which number is a sign of a truth (much as a word is a ‘sign’ that reveals a truth another way), but learn to relate those mathematical signs to each other in a pattern of relationships that reflects beauty of God. This order is common to the abstract worlds of mathematics and geometry, the cosmos, the beauty of musical harmony and the moral order and it governs also the rhythms and patterns of our worship in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours as we progress through sacred time; ultimately all point to the Word, the Logos, in whom, as Pope Benedict XVI put it, ‘the archetypes of the world’s order are contained’.
When understood in this way, the study of these disciplines provides the student with a set of principles by which all human work can be governed so that it is intimately linked to the liturgy. Furthermore through its beauty all human work can potentially give ‘praise to the Lord’, just as the cosmos doe,s as described in the Canticle of Daniel, for example.
Architecture is the field which comes to mind first when thinking about how to make use of the traditional harmony and proportion, but as I have indicated, we can incorporate this order into any aspect of time and space and then potentially any human creation or activity can participate in this divine order and bear witness to Him through its beauty. When human culture once again reflects the divine beauty, in ways that are not in-your-face statements of the creed, but are built upon the foundation of an assumed faith, then we will have something very powerful that will draw people into the Church. This is the via puchritudinis and it is the beauty that will ‘save the world’, to use the famous phrase of Dostoevsky. It is preparing the hearts of men to receive the Word and respond with love when presented with it in more direct ways; and it is most powerfully and directly presented to them in beautiful sacred liturgy. This is why cultural reform and liturgical reform are so closely tied together and why there is an article (Read More)