Lessons from Evangelii Gaudium #11
Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason. This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.
The Way of Beauty (nos. 167-168)
Those who evangelize are called to be advocates of beauty. A life filled with joy despite hardships and suffering is vital for the evangelization of a world that is searching for meaning and hope, precisely because it is attractive to those around us. Pope Francis tells us that when we proclaim the Gospel, we must not only show that following Christ is true and good, but that the message of His love touches the human heart as “something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties” (no. 167). Christ Himself is the full revelation of beauty which speaks to the infinite longing of our hearts. Our catechesis should therefore work to encourage this desire, so that the joy of encountering Christ can be ever greater.
In order to inspire the growth of this desire, Pope Francis urges the Church to incorporate art into evangelization. The Holy Father tells us that all encounters with true beauty in the world can be legitimate means of encountering Christ because they draw our hearts toward the transcendent, making us receptive to the Gospel message. Pope Francis qualifies that this “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis) is not the same as a kind of atheistic relativism that would separate beauty from the true and the good. Rather, the beauty we should uphold is precisely the shining glory of “the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ” (no. 84).
When we teach about God, we must always emphasize the harmony of the Gospel. We must “stress again and again the attractiveness and the ideal of a life of wisdom, self-fulfillment, and enrichment” (no. 168). All the demands of the Gospel way of life should be seen in a more positive light when we understand the beautiful integrity that it brings to our lives and the hope it offers to our world. One of the places harmony can be best seen is in the family—that “complex of interpersonal relationships,” where each distinct individual is uniquely incorporated into the fullness of the whole (Familiaris Consortio, 15).
Because one of the tasks of the family is to “share in the life and mission of the Church,” the way of beauty should be present within our family lives as well (Familiaris Consortio, 17). Sharing experiences of beauty through art and music can form our families to be open to the transcendent—both in each other, in all other people, and ultimately in God. Incorporating the arts into the education of children can be an excellent way of forming and inspiring their hearts in this openness.
Families: Find a way to incorporate a sense of wonder for beauty into your family. Whether it’s a peaceful walk through nature, time spent watching a film, listening to music, doing a craft, or just enjoying the goodness of each other’s company without distractions, encounter Christ through an encounter with beauty together this week.