The Experience of Beauty with Benedict XVI

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

In his 2009 "Address to Artists," Benedict XVI marks the 10th anniversary of John Paul II's "Letter to Arists" and remarks on the renewal of hope that the arts may encourage.  He asks:
What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream a life worthy of its vocation - if not beauty?  Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.
He further reflects:
Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of infinity, can become a path toward the transcendent, towards the ultimate mystery, toward God.
The Novgorod icon of the Annunciation