Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why Art Matters

Art is an expression of beauty and God is the most beautiful thing ever. We are made in God's image and likeness, therefore, the human body is the most beautiful thing ever made. Thus, art can be a participation in creating beauty, as God did.

Pope Benedict XVI said the following in 2006:
The inscription that Pope Benedict XIV had placed above the entrance to the so-called "Christian Museum" in the mid-18th century to indicate its purpose: "Ad augendum Urbis splendorem / et asserendam Religionis veritatem"springs to mind: "To add to the splendour of Rome and to assert the truth of the Christian Religion".
The approach to Christian truth mediated through the expression of art or of history and culture, has an extra chance of getting through to the intelligence and sensibility of people who do not belong to the Catholic Church and are sometimes prejudiced towards and diffident about her.
Art can reveal man's worth, dignity and destiny John Paul II reminded us when he quoted from "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in his Letter to Artists, 1999: "Beauty will save the world."

Today, I think we need that saving power more than ever. It saves because it reveals our true worth - who we are as God's children. Through art we can revel in God's created order. Thus, JPII says:
“By means of works of art and the activity of the audiovisual media, all those contents and values can be modeled and studied. But they can also be distorted and destroyed in the heart of man. As can be seen, we find ourselves continually within the orbit of the words Christ spoke in the Sermon on the Mount. Also the problems which we are dealing with here must be examined in the light of those words, which consider a look that springs from lust as "adultery committed in the heart.”
Art can achieve great things or degrade humanity. Today, we seek for it to show us what it means to be human and in doing so, change the world for Christ through beauty.

This is what Pope Benedict XVI said recently about how art, beauty, God, and human faith intersect:

As the son of an Catholic artist, I can appreciate the way artwork can express an interior communion with God. I have learned more about my mother's interior life by gazing upon her artwork, than I have in any other way.

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