How the Apostles Spoke of the Beauty of Christ, by James Matthew Wilson

The Symbolic Location of the 1981 Attack on John Paul II, by Beata Zajączkowska
May 13, 2023
Fatima Is a Taste of Heaven, by Patti Maguire Armstrong
May 13, 2023

*Image: Saint Paul Preaching in Athens by Marcantonio Raimondi (after Raphael), c. 1517-20 [Art institute of Chicago]

By James Matthew Wilson, The Catholic Thing, May 13, 2023

James Matthew Wilson has published ten books, including, most recently, The Strangeness of the Good (Angelico) and The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition (CUA).  …

A note from Robert Royal: I’ve been reading for years – in great souls like Solzhenitsyn, Dostoyevsky, Ratzinger, and many others – how “beauty will save the world.”  It seems more often that it takes many of us on a joyride to Hades. But it’s a part of our tradition that Truth, Goodness, and Beauty (the three transcendentals) are the main highways to things above us. And our friend James Matthew Wilson offers an interesting exposition today on what that means. Retrieving Catholic truths like this is just one part of what we are about here at The Catholic Thing. Day by day, we have to recover and advance the fullness of what God has revealed to the world – and that the world tries to ignore or deny. We’ve been at our mid-year fundraising for one week now, and as always we’ll take Sunday off so as not to break the Sabbath.  But all the more reason, if you haven’t already donated, to do so today. Many of you have signed up for automatic monthly payments, which is a great way to help with our work if you can’t make a larger one-time gift. You’ll find all that, with simple explanations, by just clicking the button. Life is beautiful, and so is the work both writers and readers are doing here. Let’s make sure we all do our part in affirming the Beauty that saves the world. 

One of the most frequently quoted passages from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s many writings is his famous assertion that the “only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.” The beauty of holiness and the beauty of art are not mere ornaments but the strongest argument for what the Church teaches.

So, for all of the Church’s formidable intellectual achievements, including its great synthesis of classical philosophy and divine revelation in her theology, could it really be that the saints and works of art alone are truly “effective”? Does beauty move human beings in a way that truth alone cannot?

Ratzinger answered this question in his 2002 address to the members of Communion and Liberation, stating, “All too often arguments fall on deaf ears because in our world too many contradictory arguments compete with one another, so much so that we are spontaneously reminded of the medieval theologians’ description of reason, that it ‘has a wax nose’ …

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