Our Humility Expressed in Beauty

A quotation has been making the rounds on Facebook from a recently-published book which, thanks to the goodness of some friends, I now own: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis. I would like to share this quote here as well, because not only is it important for us to think about – in general, and in light of my recent fundraising campaign for Holy Rosary Parish – but also because it adds to a theme that I have written about before, on beauty in our churches and in our worship (here, here, here, and here).

First, the book: It is by Prof. Peter Kwasniewski, a rather prolific and industrious contemporary Catholic author whose writing on various topics relating to the life of the modern Church I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve not read this whole book yet, but I can say that the quote reproduced below under Fair Use laws is just a small taste of a longer treatment that he gives this topic in the first chapter.

Click to see on Amazon. Available both in paperback and Kindle.

Click to see on Amazon. Available both in paperback and Kindle.

And here is the quote:

Jesus was born in a humble stable and placed in a manger, true. But the wise men did not bring him straw, dirt, and dung; they brought him costly royal gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The way in which our Lord was born revealed his humility, which disdains earthly pomp; the way in which the three kings adored him revealed their humility, which looked for the best they could offer, knowing in their wisdom that it was far beneath what he deserved. It is not for us to behave as if we were Jesus come into the world, and thus to create churches that look like barns or stables or caves to receive us. It is rather our business to join the magi and the shepherds in heeding the divine call that beckons us beyond our limits. Responding in faith, we must give our utmost to the Word-made-flesh…. Though our Lord first appeared on earth in a humble manger, hidden and poor, the sacred liturgy is not time-travel to Bethlehem circa 4 BC. The Mass… makes present in our midst the glorified Savior whose second coming will not be in quiet poverty but in earth-shattering splendor. For this reason the instinct of our faith has always been to maximize the beauty of the liturgy and its diverse furnishings and surroundings, yearning for what is to come rather than indulging in backwards glances. (pp. 20-21, original emphases)

I’d like to copy this whole section for you, but I can’t! It’s excellent. He also speaks about sacred music and ad orientem worship. And this is only one part of one chapter. Definitely a book worth checking out.

I’m very fortunate to be Administrator of two parishes that have beautiful churches, both built in different times (one 125 years ago, the other 62 years) during which people understood more readily the principles that Dr. Kwasniewksi speaks about: namely, that the least we can do for God is to provide out of our generosity a beautiful and decorous place for worshipping him, even making sacrifices so that we can give him the best that we have to offer. This is true humility in the presence of the Almighty!

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