Category Archives: Faith & Reason

Artistic expression is part of that “way of beauty” that leads to God

Pope Benedict gave the following teaching on beauty –a subject near to his heart– on August 31. Some of the paragraphs are here (the entire address is here). Isn’t what the Pope says true???? The beautiful expressed in food, music, art, architecture, the human body, the poerty and friendship is the extroversion of the Holy Spirit.

 

Today, I would like to consider briefly one of these channels that can lead us to God and also be helpful in our encounter with Him: It is the way of artistic expression, part of that “via pulchritudinis” — “way of beauty” — which I have spoken about on many occasions, and which modern man should recover in its most profound meaning. 

 

Perhaps it has happened to you at one time or another — before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of poetry or a piece of music — to have experienced deep emotion, a sense of joy, to have perceived clearly, that is, that before you there stood not only matter — a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, an ensemble of letters or a combination of sounds — but something far greater, something that “speaks,” something capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul

 

Wells cathedral.jpgA work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human person who stands in wonder before the visible reality, who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colors and sounds. Art is capable of expressing, and of making visible, man’s need to go beyond what he sees; it reveals his thirst and his search for the infinite. Indeed, it is like a door opened to the infinite, [opened] to a beauty and a truth beyond the every day. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward.

 

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Why Bill Keller misses the mark with Catholicism

In the NY Times yesterday the editors published a few paragraphs on Bill Keller and his coverage of Catholicism for the 8 last years. It was really a screed on being the priests of truth. However, the article indicates that he has gratitude for his Catholic education, noting his the fervent faith of his parents, especially his mother. But the rub for me is that now Keller identifies himself as a “collapsed Catholic” meaning “beyond lapsed.” Of course, he doesn’t explain how or what concrete events led him to arrive at being a collapsed Catholic.

Essentially Bill Keller’s understanding of Catholic faith is reduced to a set of rigid moralisms that have no vitality, no freedom, no desire. I can only surmise that Keller’s skeptical attitude toward the beauty of Catholic faith rests in his inability to see Jesus Christ as the answer to his human need now due to an absence of wonder, gratitude and true charity. I think he blames his skepticism on the “institution” of the Church on incidental things versus on things of depth. On one level who could disagree with Keller and those like him who walk away from the Church when the desire of the heart is played down.
I’d like to know what Bill Keller’s experience of Jesus is, and what his experience of receiving the sacraments is. Perhaps his problem of a lack of satisfaction in the Faith is a true lack of gratitude for what is given by the newness of the Risen Lord and that Christ is not a thing but a person.
But is there really such a thing as a collapsed Catholic? Or, a Catholic who needs a reawakening by meeting Christ personally?

Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture: a deeper dialogue between science and faith

The Pontifical Council for Culture has been doing some good work in promoting serious dialogue among those who work in science, the humanities and theology. You may be familiar with the Council’s “Science, Theology and the Ontological  Quest” (STOQ Project). The most recent collaboration has been with NeoStem in organizing a forthcoming conference dealing with the theme of “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture.” Regenerative medicine is now on the front burner for dialogue and research among scientists, theologians and pastors. This field of study has wide applications for work in culture, law, theology, pastoral practice, scientific research and practical application for all peoples on the planet.

The Council for Culture is working also with the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers to give a united front and clear witness to the importance of this topic to all interested parties.

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Together in Christ

Pope Benedictus XVI

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The Pope’s “Together in Christ” two day visit of Croatia was significant for several reasons. For him, and I think for all of us who were either physically in Zagreb or tuned via the media, time spent with the Croatians was monumental because it clearly exhibited the “dynamism of communion.” (What visit of a pope is insignificant, the wag asks?) In his own words, the Benedict reviews the events he and the world lived with him in this way:

  • “the experience of finding ourselves together united in the name of Christ,
  • the experience of being Church, which is manifested … around the Successor of Peter. 
  • ‘Together in Christ’ referred in a particular way to the family (… the occasion of my visit was the First National Day of Croatian Catholic Families…

It was very important for me to confirm in the faith especially these families that the Second Vatican Council called “domestic churches” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 11). 

In today’s Europe [and one can extend this to the globe], nations with a strong Christian tradition have a special responsibility to defend and promote the value of the family founded on marriage, which remains decisive both within the field of education as well as in the social sphere.”

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Is social media rebooting religion?

twitter image.jpgThe past week the news has been consumed by the Anthony Weiner fiasco. His mis-use of Twitter is obviously very regrettable and it ought to cause each of us on Net to pause and ask ourselves: Are we doing good –are we responsible– by having a digital presence? What can be learned from Weiner (his own political fate has yet to be decided)? One lesson to learn: don’t let virtual replace the dignity of the personal relationship. The the thrill Weiner may have had for a second has vanished all-too-quickly to be real.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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