Pope: works of art can lead us to God
» 08/31/2011 12:59
During the general audience, Benedict XVI highlights how before a sculpture, a painting, a poem or a song we can perceive something that is not only matter, “but something bigger, something that speaks, capable touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul”. “How many times, then, can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or the conversion of the heart”.
Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – Works of art are one of the “channels” that that can lead to God, because art “is like an open door to the infinite, to a beauty and a truth that goes beyond the ordinary. A work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, carrying him aloft. ”
Benedict XVI returned today to touch on one of the themes dear to him, that of beauty as a path that leads to God. Speaking to five thousand people present in Castel Gandolfo for the general audience, the Pope said that “perhaps sometimes, before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of a poem or a song, you have experienced deep within an intimate emotion, a sense of joy, that is to have clearly perceived that in front of you there was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds, but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; elevating the soul. ”
“The work of art is the fruit of human creativity, which questions the visible reality, trying to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of shapes, colours, sounds.” The work of art, in short, “is an open door on the infinite,” which “opens the eyes of the mind, of the heart.”
“One example of this is when we visit a Gothic cathedral; we are enraptured by the vertical lines that shoot up towards the sky and draw our eyes and our spirits upwards, while at the same time, we feel small, and yet eager for fullness … Or when we enter a Romanesque church: we are spontaneously invited to recollection and prayer. We feel as if the faith of generations were enclosed in these splendid buildings. Or, when we hear a piece of sacred music that vibrates the strings of our heart, our soul expands and helped to turn to God. A concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Munich, directed by Leonard Bernstein, again comes to my mind. After the last piece of music, one of the Cantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed something of the faith of the great composer to me and pressed me to praise and thank the Lord … … “.
“But how many times – he added – have paintings or frescoes, the fruit of the faith of the artist, in their forms, their colours, in their light, encouraged us to direct our thoughts to God and nourish in us the desire to draw from the source of all beauty. What a great artist, Marc Chagall, wrote remains true, that for centuries painters have dipped their paintbrush in that coloured alphabet that is the Bible. How many times, then can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or for the conversion of the heart! Paul Claudel, a poet, playwright, and French diplomat, in the Basilica of Notre Dame in Paris, in 1886, while he was listening to the singing of the Magnificat at Christmas Mass, felt God’s presence. He had not entered the church for reasons of faith, but to in search of arguments against Christians, and instead the grace of God worked in his heart”.
For everyone, even in today, the Pope’s invitation remains valid, “to rediscover the importance of this path for prayer, for our living relationship with God. The cities and towns all over the world preserve works of art that express the faith and remind us of our relationship with God. Visiting places of art, it is not only an occasion for cultural enrichment, but above all it can be a moment of grace, an encouragement to strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord, to stop and contemplate, in the transition from simple external reality to a deeper reality, the ray of beauty that strikes us, that almost wounds us in our inner selves and invites us to rise towards God. “