This is the first short article in which I offer some reaction to the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis. I will focus on those aspects that seem relevant to the matters on which I usually write and leave consideration of its overall impact to others.
In this he referred directly to Pope Benedict’s phrase, the ‘via pulchritudinis’ as a vital component in evangelisation and of the importance of the arts.
‘167. Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis). Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it. If, as Saint Augustine says, we love only that which is beautiful, the incarnate Son, as the revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable and draws us to himself with bonds of love. So a formation in the via pulchritudinis ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith. Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new “language of parables”. We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those unconventional modes of beauty which may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others.’
So he stresses the objectivity of beauty and how that which is genuinely beautiful points to God. In regard to art in particular he stresses the importance of creating new forms but that this should be done by ‘building on the treasures of the past’. This means, as I read it, doing what Christian artists have always done: looking at the (Read More)