Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beauty, Spirit, Liturgy

Fairly lengthy essay here which raises an important point:  it ain't just "body and soul."  It's body, intellectus, and ratio.

The loss of the "spirit"--or intellectus--after the Enlightenment also led to the loss of the sense of beauty; thus the circus-tent church, or Picasso, or Schoenberg's dodecaphony--topped only perhaps, by Glass' unending nothingness.

It strikes me that such a neglect as a result of the Enlightenment should result in a cultural decline as well as a liturgical decline is made all the more understandable when one considers the role of the intellectus, or spirit, in the apprehension of beauty. In the first part of her little essay Beauty, Contemplation and the Virgin Mary, Sister Thomas Mary McBride, OP describes succinctly in just a few paragraphs, the traditional understanding of beauty and how man apprehends it. She draws on the Latin medievals and states that beauty illuminates the intellectus, describing the apprehension of beauty as the 'gifted perfection of seeing'. Then echoing Caldecott in the connection between intellectus and spirit says: 'In the light of the above, this writer would suggest that the proper place of beauty is in the spirit.'

An appropriate active participation in the liturgy is one that engages the full person in order to encourage within us the right interior disposition. Any participation in the liturgy that does not engage body, soul and spirit therefore does not engage the full person.

Many have described the liturgical music landscape following VatII as "pragmatic"; in some cases, the music almost seems to have been written by a committee.

B-16 has mentioned "beauty" as a very important quality in liturgy (and its music) at least a dozen times while Pope and Cardinal.  There's a reason for that.

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