I just watched a terrific video: The Face: Jesus in Art.  The artwork itself is glorious, and the video does a splendid job of presenting it, with beautiful photography and music.

Most of all, it helped me to truly appreciate not only the art, but the fact that we have a God who can be portrayed in art. He took on a human body, a human face.  While we may not be able to create an exact likeness of His face, He is very much present wherever we find beauty.  Beauty is part of His nature, and He is the source of all beauty.

When some people say that we should sell our art and other property to feed the poor (or some variation of that statement), they don’t fully understand what they are asking us to give up.  Not just rich material objects, but images that have brought generations of Christians closer to their Lord.  Not just artifacts of our civilization, but treasures of our faith.  They are truly priceless, and losing them would cause a poverty more dire and long-lasting than that which might be temporarily assuaged by money.  And then, there are many churches which are themselves works of art–would we have to sell them too?  Where would the line be drawn?

We should love, care for, and admire the art that illumines and expresses our faith.  Especially that which depicts our Lord Himself. Too often, we either take it for granted or count it to be of no importance.  My own experience has shown me that being mindful and appreciative of religious art and beautiful spaces really does draw me into deep and active worship.  Conversely, I find it nearly impossible to worship in a space devoid of beauty; I end up turning inward on myself, rather than being raised up out of myself to encounter an Other.  That is what worship is all about for Catholics–encountering the divine Other; in encountering Him, we can do naught but worship Him, so irresistably attractive He is!

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