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Beauty as Attraction

Beauty as Attraction

Beauty as Attraction

Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God Desiderio Desideravi, issued in 2022 captures a desire to evangelise through attraction. Francis uses “beauty” eleven times in Desiderio desideravi (see paragraphs 1, 10, 16, 21, 22, 24, 25, 43, 62 and  65. The section beginning at paragraph 21 has the subheading “ Rediscovering daily the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration.”

Francis proposes beauty as more than ‘a ritual aesthetic” (22). He links it with truth: “Beauty, just like truth, always engenders wonder, and when these are referred to the mystery of God, they lead to adoration.” For Francis, it is beauty that can lead to the life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ that is at the heart of catechesis. The truth of the Incarnation, is itself a thing of beauty. Francis does not go into the specifics of how to celebrate the liturgy but does make a point about cherishing liturgical rubrics:

Let us be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time, gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed. Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down. But even if the quality and the proper action of the celebration were guaranteed, that would not be enough to make our participation full (23).

The section cited above is a neat encapsulation of how we should prepare liturgical celebrations Attention to detail can counter the temptations offered by an individualism that can too easily make the liturgy “our thing” and not the treasured and well developed inheritance of the Church.

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