A few months ago, we participated in the I Jornada Via Pulchritudinis in Antwerpin Belgium. We would like to share with you the experience of this meeting with artists and theologians from different parts of the world who gathered to discuss beauty. A beauty understood not as a mere aesthetic experience but as an itinerary to reach Christ.
The day began in the church of Saint James in Antwerp with a Latin Masssung and celebrated ad orientem. With the intention of enhancing the beauty of the liturgy, special attention was paid to details such as the vestments and the liturgical trousseau, provided by Talleres de Arte Granda, and the music, masterfully performed by the vocal ensemble Wishful Singing.
In the words of Father Pierre Francoise, celebrant of the Mass, "The church in which we find ourselves cries out, with its works of art, what our words can hardly express. The liturgy we celebrate will never be beautiful enough to reveal the richness of what God wants to bring us in this celebration. That a Mass such as today's is celebrated in a setting of exceptional artistic, floral and musical beauty, or that it is an elderly priest for a group of elderly women in a dilapidated sacristy, is a mystery of ineffable beauty, unfolding before us. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!"
Throughout the day, attendees were offered a sample of liturgical ornaments with some elements of the cathedral's treasure and others from our own workshops. It also explained, through photographs and a small exhibition, the spirit and way of doing Arte Granda. They were also able to see firsthand the work behind the elements involved in the liturgy of the mass: the chiseling of a ciborium, the turning process of a tabernacle piece...etc.
The meeting continued with a round table discussion with the participation of four distinguished speakers: Selina De Maeyerphotographer and filmmaker, some members of the Wishful Singing ensemble; Angeline Flor Pua, Miss Belgium 2018 y Kevin Collegea prestigious European gemologist. The meeting of different approaches to beauty generated a very interesting space for dialogue in which each of the parties contributed a new and different approach. Selina de Maeyer took the floor to talk about her short film "Eucharist Come and see"The choral group explained how Gregorian music has allowed them to discover the beauty of the Catholic liturgy from the Calvinist faith; the winner of the Miss Belgium 2018 beauty pageant told from her experience how the approach to beauty on a deeper level has helped her to give hope to the Filipino people, her people of origin. The colloquium was closed by the intervention of the Dr. ColleIn his presentation, gemologist and expert in theology, he presented his exhaustive study on precious stones and their presence in biblical language and symbolism, a unique analysis of great interest and beauty.
This via Pulchritudinis is already a universal path, promoted more and more strongly from within the Church itself. As stated in the document of the 2006 Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for CultureThe way of beauty, starting from the simple experience of the encounter with beauty that arouses admiration, can open the way to the search for God and is capable of preparing the heart and spirit for the encounter with Christ, who is Beauty, who is the incarnate Holiness offered by God to men for their salvation". Thus beauty is presented not only as a way, but also as a call, for "she invites the new Augustinians of our day, the insatiable seekers of love, truth and beauty, to rise from this sensible beauty to the eternal Beauty and to discover with fervor the Holy God, the author of all beauty."