Column: Engage the mission of beauty at upcoming workshop

Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.
Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.

by Father Andrew Strobl

One of the joys of having an office at Savior Pastoral Center is getting to soak up the latest art exhibit on display in the halls.

Tim Chik, the director of Savior Pastoral Center, and the Catholic Fine Arts Council of Northeast Kansas do a terrific job of providing visitors an opportunity to walk the “via pulchritudinis” (“way of beauty”).

Great effort is made to display works of art that provide a chance for encounter, instead of just observation. Beauty, like truth and goodness, leads us to encounter the One who is beauty, truth, and goodness itself.

Sacred art in the church has a privileged role. It has a clear mission. In an address to patrons of the arts at the Vatican Museum in October 2013, Pope Francis claimed, “Art in the church fundamentally exists for evangelization.”

In “Evangelii Gandium,” our Holy Father went on to explain the mission of beauty in evangelization: “Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splen- dor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties.

“Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the risen Christ to radiate within it” (167).

The office of evangelization is excited to offer an opportunity to engage the mission of beauty. “Sacred Art and the New Evangelization” is a weekend opportunity to contemplate the role of sacred art in evangelization. Held June 12-14, this will be the second year we have offered this opportunity with Dr. Caroline Farey and David Clayton who are experts in sacred art.

David Clayton describes the weekend as “more than teaching you about the new evangelization — it will tell you how to be a part of it, a new person, transformed in Christ and through beauty, and showing Christ to others in our everyday activities.” To find out more about this opportunity, visit the website at: www.archkck.org/evangelization.

Recognizing the role of beauty is essential to evangelization. Personally, I have had more conversations about the sacred art in my office and rectory than I have about any tweet I have posted. The stained-glass windows at Holy Name Church preach more powerfully about the life of Christ than any of my homilies. Sacred art has a mission. If we want to share the Gospel, we cannot neglect beauty.

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