Sunday, December 04, 2022

Bernini and Tradition

The essay here is remarkable for a couple of reasons.  First, the author, Fr. Joseph Scolaro, shows us a marvelous Bernini sculpture (which most of us have never seen.)

Then he tells us why it is an analogue to the Church.

...Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius. The image captures the moment in the Aeneid when the three figures escape from Troy to make their way to Italy, where they will eventually become the heroic progenitors of Romulus, Remus, and the Roman people.

Aeneas bears his father Anchises on his shoulder, Anchises carries a vessel with the ashes of their ancestors and figures of their household gods, and behind follows Aeneas’ son Ascanius carrying the eternal flame of Troy. Three generations, all carved from a single block of stone, united as an image of past, present, and future....

...One of the great challenges facing the Church today seems to be exactly that: how do we move forward, how do we engage our own world, burdened by the baggage of centuries gone by?

Much of the contemporary effort has been to jettison the accumulated traditions of the medieval world so foreign to us, whether in devotions or art or liturgy. Many theologians and even ecclesiastics seek to overcome the weight of doctrine, hoping to pare down, simplify, and “develop” ideas in such a way that we can subtly leave behind much of the burden....

... What Bernini’s statue reminds us of though, is that the burden we bear is not some meaningless sack of baubles. He carries his father who gave him life, who raised him up, who made him the man he came to be. More than that, he carries the man who gave him faith in his gods, who taught him respect for the divine protector, who taught him to value the long line of ancestors, who shared that faith and handed on from time immemorial the way of life by which he has persevered.

He carries a burden of tradition, but a burden which is also the source of his strength

A remarkable way of portraying a timeless truth by Bernini, and a reminder that "timeless" means "permanent" from the author.

No comments: