There is nothing quite like something beautiful. And I’m not talking the cover of Vogue beautiful, but pure, glorious, awe-inspiring beauty, to lift the heart to God. I think as Kiwis, as casual and sometimes minimalistic that we can be, we can forget that easily…whilst wallowing in a wealth of false beauty among our consumer society.
However, this week in Africa I came across two beautiful churches – the Consolata Shrine and St Jude’s, the church of a local Franciscan community – both in suburban Nairobi, Kenya.
Beauty can be sensed in many ways…natural beauty, moral beauty, the beauty of truth…
The CCC says (33) The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material”, can have its origin only in God.
Truly beautiful things can lead us to ponder the existence of this great mysterious God, Abba, Father…our whole origin. Pretty cool.
A beautiful church is a work of art in itself…and: (2501) Created “in the image of God,” man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being’s inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God’s activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man.
Art can bear a certain likeness to God’s activity…so…build beautiful churches, works of art, worthy of the God to whom worshipped is offered within. None of these ‘budget saving’ jobs!!
And a final note, may the soul of Fr Joseph Bertaina rest in peace. Fr Joseph, a Consolata priest of 82 years old, was found dead in his office in Nairobi last week, brutally murdered by three men and a women. He is an Italian missionary who has been in Kenya since the 1950s, evangelising the Gospel in a radical way. They announced at Mass this morning that one of his murderers was a former Vincentian Seminarian – all the more tragic. It reminds us that no one is free from the snares of the devil, even those who were on the path to a life of service for God can find themselves falling greatly. Pray for the soul of Fr Joseph, and for those who sent him to his death for the mere sake of stealing some petty cash.