Beauty as a Way to God

Occasionally I give talks on praying with art, music and poetry. Each evokes an affective response in us that allows us to access God’s love in a deep way.

In a recent general audience Pope Benedict spoke on this theme in a way that expresses well my own experience of poetry and music and what I try to convey when speaking on this subject. He said

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 a 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.

The Pope’s description of his reaction to a concert performance of Bach’s music resonated with me; there is something in a beautiful piece of music (or a poem or a painting) that causes our soul to exapnd, that “irresistibly expresses the presence of God’s truth.

The Pope urged his audience to “rediscover the importance of this way for prayer, for our living relationship with God.” Good advice to follow.

You can find a podcast of a talk I gave on this subject a couple of years ago here.