One of Cream City Catholic’s greatest areas of focus is on the recovery, restoration and elevation of authentic beauty in our world and, more specifically, here in the Church in Milwaukee. As Catholics, we are heirs of Bernini, Victoria, Carracci, and Gaudí, to name only a small number. Their exquisite sculptures, musical arrangements, paintings and architecture elevate our gaze to heaven, to the Source of all beauty. Here in Milwaukee, it’s not difficult to find numerous examples of beauty in our historic churches. To the list of renown artists mentioned above, I suggest we add the industrious and devout immigrant communities, those unknown yet deeply inspired workers who were determined to give glory to God in their new country. So in the midst of many shallow and deceptive impersonations, Catholics should be at the forefront of promoting an alternative culture rooted in authentic beauty, faithful to our time-honored traditions while open the noble and good of contemporary society.
But what is beauty? We cannot recover something unless we first properly identify it, or else we run the risk of elevating a crude imitation in its place. Pope Benedict XVI, as on so many other occasions, offers us a place to start.
Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy ‘shock’, it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum–it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it ‘reawakens’ him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. ~Benedict XVI’s Address to Artists, 2009