By: Allison Ramirez
Expanding upon last week’s article on Sacramentals, The Catholic Church has long been known for its immaculate beauty. From beautiful churches to cathedrals, from shines to grottos, Catholics have long appreciated and recognized God’s gift of art and beauty and used religions art and design to express our gratitude and love for all that he has given us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say in regards to beauty, “Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God – the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ” (#2502).
I have personally never been to Rome to witness the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica or many of the other noteworthy Catholic destinations, but I hope to one day. Writers, Artists, Musicians, Photographers, Sculptors and the like have the capacity to their gifts and talents to draw the imagination toward contemplation of majesty and of the divine. Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” When we look for the beauty in the world around us and recognize the work of human hands in lifting our gaze to the wonders of heaven when allow ourselves to be humbled and overcome by glory. Catholic Churches, frescos, icons, and other artworks seek to stir in us a desire for the beauty that we witness and to be more receptive to the beauty that is in others and the world we live in.
The world can often seem a dark and dismal place with much pain and sorrow, but the wonder and majesty that is in religious art reminds us that we come from and are entrusted to a God of immense beauty. Pope John Paul II has some lovely words to share on the topic of Catholic beauty when he says: “Art has a unique capacity to take one or other faucet of the message and translate it into colors, shapes, and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look and listen….The purpose of art is nothing less than the upliftment of the human spirit.” And finally, my favorite of his quotes on the topic of beauty: “Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”