Beauty is a necessity, not a luxury. …without beauty, the duties prove too hard and, eventually, seem pointless.
Why is it that we feel happier when we’re in the presence of beauty? And why do drab or utilitarian surroundings make us feel sort of listless or depressed, or even agitated? We instinctively respond to beauty, just as we keenly, if unconsciously, sense it’s absence.
Understanding this difference between objective and subjective judgment is crucial to our understanding of beauty and indeed reality.
Is it possible to speak objectively about what’s beautiful and what isn’t? Joseph Pearce argues that we can, though we will first need to be open to the truth that there is such a thing as an objective standard for beauty. That’s a tough sell today, and requires a large dose of humility.
Sacred Music is the indispensable instrument of the Holy Spirit in leading souls in their march toward Heaven…
Fr. John A. Perricone
Authentic sacred music isn’t a luxury or a mere affectation—it is a necessary element in right worship. As Fr. John Perricone sets out in the article linked below (h/t Crisis Magazine), our souls are moved in profound ways by the music we encounter, and this is especially true in the liturgy. He writes:
This music transforms him and pierces man’s soul to the core of his being. Often, it produces a contrition so profound that a man’s life can take a wholly different course.
This basic understanding is what guides our music program at St. Mark. Music for Mass isn’t about “filling in the gaps” or giving people something to do. It is an expression of our love for God, which in turn lifts and transforms our souls. But for this dynamic to truly work, the music must be fitting. Not necessarily complicated or expensive to produce, but fitting.
Happily, we have available to us a long tradition of music that is well-suited to the worship of the Most Holy Trinity. Some of this music ornate and difficult, and some is quite simple and accessible, but all of it has been proved over the course of centuries to both render right praise to God as well as “pierce man’s soul.”
It is no accident that much of the most beautiful art and music in the Western tradition has been religious, and that a good deal of that has been produced for use in the sacred liturgy.
Evangelization isn’t just giving people a set of propositions, or a rulebook to follow. It’s inviting them into a relationship with the living God. But first we must get their attention. Human beings are by nature drawn to beauty. If we want people to fall in love with God, we must give them a glimpse of His loveliness.
Of course, love is the primary way we do this. But it’s a mistake to think that the outward forms of the Faith—liturgy, music, art, architecture—are superfluous. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These outward manifestations of beauty reveal something of the great love of God for us. They are also a sign of our love for Him.
There’s so much ugliness and banality all around us—it’s the hallmark of our post-Christian age. The Church must provide a refuge from all that.
The article linked below describes the connection between beauty and right worship, and explains why “there are no box stores… in the City of God.”
We are accustomed today to the understanding that beauty is subjective. We all know the statement, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Is that true?
In this second episode of the Catholic Architecture series, Dr. McNamara provides us a definition of beauty: “We call things beautiful when they reveal their ontological reality to us.” This is a fancy way of saying that we call things beautiful when they look like what they really are.