Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Liturgy's Source of Beauty

2.2. The noble simplicity of love

The Gospels describe the human and concrete gestures of Jesus: he walks, he blesses, he touches, he heals, he mixes saliva and mud, he raises his eyes to heaven, he breaks the bread, he takes the cup. These are the gestures repeated in the celebration of the sacraments. But it was above all on the night of his passion that Jesus taught us the gestures that we too must perform. He is our master of liturgical education. His art consists in setting forth the essential in a few simple things. The meaning of the liturgy is revealed only through simplicity and sobriety. «He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you his heavenly Father; he showed the depth of his love. While they were at supper he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples saying […]. In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said […] ».[3] What is it that made this act of the Lord so beautiful? The way the room was arranged? The way the table was prepared? Fine table linen? Certainly these things bring out its beauty, like a frame which enhances the beauty of a picture. Yet the real beauty lies in Jesus’ act of redeeming love: «he showed the depth of his love… he took bread». Here lies the beauty of his gesture. Repeating this action of Christ, and recognising in it her Lord’s love, the Church finds it beautiful. The liturgy’s aesthetic value, its beauty, depends primarily therefore not on art, but on the paschal mystery of love. If art is to collaborate with the liturgy it needs to be evangelised by love. The beauty of a Eucharistic celebration essentially depends not on the beauty of architecture, icons, decoration, songs, vestments, choreography and colours, but above all on the ability to reveal the gesture of love performed by Jesus. Through the gestures, words and prayers of the liturgy we strive to repeat and render visible the gestures, prayers and words of the Lord Jesus. This is what the Lord commanded: «Do this in memory of me».


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