The "Beauty" that saves....

On Easter Sunday of 1999, the late Pope John Paul II gave a gift to the artists of the world. It was a father's letter to his children. A word to those who sing, and write, and build, and paint, and dream. He dedicated it:
To all who are passionately dedicated
to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty
so that through their creative work as artists
they may offer these as gifts to the world.

It is one of my most precious possessions (although it belongs to each one of us) and I encourage every one of you to read the beautiful and inspiring message that he hopes will draw our hearts and craft closer to the Creator. I will quote briefly from the letter here but I encourage you to read the entirety. Whether you share John Paul's credo or not, I believe that, as an artist, you will be moved and inspired.

He opens the letter thus:
None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.

And in closing:
Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!”.(26)

Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.

May you be guided and inspired by the mystery of the Risen Christ, whom the Church in these days contemplates with joy.

I share only briefly of the letter to artists here but I beg you to read the entirety and allow yourself to be challenged and lifted up!
You can find it here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jpii_let_23041999_artists_en.html

Deo Gratias!
Posted on July 20, 2008 and filed under "John Paul II", "Letter to artists", "catholic art".