Beauty Will Save the World: From the Mouth of an Idiot to the Pen of a Pope – Crisis Magazine.

via Beauty Will Save the World: From the Mouth of an Idiot to the Pen of a Pope – Crisis Magazine.

By R. Jared Staudt

A popular quote we often hear but find hard to understand is “beauty will save the world.” How will beauty save the world? The line comes from Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot, attributed to the main character, Prince Myskin. The prince, an epileptic Russian nobleman, serves as a Christ-like figure, who stands apart for his innocence and even naiveté. Out of the mouth of this idiot comes a clearer vision of beauty and reality than those around him, his clarity heightened even in the midst of his sickness.

The saving power of beauty in the prince’s life could not overcome his sickness, but nonetheless illumined his vision: “What matter though it be only disease, an abnormal tension of the brain, if when I recall and analyze the moment, it seems to have been one of harmony and beauty in the highest degree—an instant of deepest sensation, overflowing with unbounded joy and rapture, ecstatic devotion, and completest life?” In the midst of his suffering, he glimpsed, though in a paradoxical manner, the heart of reality.

Are the prince’s words on beauty the words of a mad idiot or of a prophet?

In Solzhenitsyn’s Noble lecture, he notes that after dismissing the quote for years, he realized that “Dostoevsky’s remark, ‘Beauty will save the world,’ was not a careless phrase but a prophecy. After all he was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination. And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today?”

If that is not enough, Pope John Paul II quoted the line in his Letter to Artists, under the heading “The Saving Power of Beauty”:

People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm [of wonder] if they are to meet and master the crucial challenges which stand before us. Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that “beauty will save the world” (§16).

Can the words of an idiot set the tone for our response to the modern world? In a mad world, maybe only the idiot is sane. It seems we can and even must trust him, now that the words of an idiot have become the words of a Pope!

Upon reading Pope Francis’s first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, I was struck most of all by its literary quality. The encyclical does not offer much theological innovation, but is remarkable for its engagement of culture: classical, medieval, and above all contemporary. It seems to follow Dostoevsky’s vision for the power of beauty. In our world that has largely rejected the ability of reason to know the truth and the moral order toward the good, is it a privileged moment for beauty? The encyclical seems to point to this reality, using literature and art to underscore its points.

Pope Benedict XVI, the primary drafter of Lumen Fidei, emphasized the absolutely essential role of beauty in human life in his “Meeting with Artists.” Guess who he turned to for support?

Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here” (quoting from the novel, Demons).

Is it not clear that we are missing this key element of human life? And if we are, what does this mean for the life of faith?

Lumen Fidei does not explicitly draw out the significance of beauty for the light of the faith. Rather, it is demonstrated by the style of the encyclical itself. Once again, Dostoevsky makes a crucial appearance:

In Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Prince Myskin sees a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger depicting Christ dead in the tomb and says: “Looking at that painting might cause one to lose his faith.” The painting is a gruesome portrayal of the destructive effects of death on Christ’s body. Yet it is precisely in contemplating Jesus’ death that faith grows stronger and receives a dazzling light; then it is revealed as faith in Christ’s steadfast love for us, a love capable of embracing death to bring us salvation. This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely (§16).

This quote is significant in relation to Dostoevsky’s vision of beauty for a number of reasons. Like “beauty will save the world,” it comes from The Idiot and refers to Prince Myskin. Second, it points to a central theme of the novel, the struggle with beauty, physically and spiritually, in the midst of suffering. Third, this struggle and tension between physical and spiritual beauty becomes a central motif in the engagement of modern culture. In the midst of sickness, how can one perceive beauty clearly? Beauty should be a path to truth, and thus faith, but the modern world itself is disfigured and trapped in darkness. It has a kind of spiritual epilepsy, an internal, maddening sickness, which, unlike for Myskin, impairs the perception of true beauty.

Looking back to Benedict’s vision, we can see how beauty itself is luminous. The light of beauty is meant to illuminate the path toward the light of faith. In Benedict’s “Meeting with Artists,” we see both the darkness of the modern eclipse of beauty and true beauty’s ability to lead to sight:

Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy…. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence.

READ MORE: via Beauty Will Save the World: From the Mouth of an Idiot to the Pen of a Pope – Crisis Magazine.

Q&A with Jimmy Akin – John Paul II says “Muslims worship the one true God”. How is this true?

More to the Third Secret of Fatima than Revealed in 2000?

Pray for the whole be revealed according to God’s Will:

Published Testimony:

Some Other Witnesses
(1930’s – 2003)

If, as seems to be the case – and as millions of responsible Catholics believe – there is more to the Third Secret than the vision released on June 26, 2000 of a “Bishop dressed in White,” with no explanation by Our Lady of Fatima of how it is to be interpreted, then what is contained in the missing part of the Secret? In addition to the published testimony provided elsewhere on this web site (including that of Father Fuentes, Father Alonso, Sister Lucy, Cardinal Ratzinger, etc.), the testimony of the following witnesses also helps to answer this question.

Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) (1930’s)

The Secretary of State under Pius XI, Msgr. Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, prior to his elevation to the papacy in 1939 as Pius XII, made the following astonishing prophecy about a coming upheaval in the Church:

Suppose, dear friend, that Communism [one of “the errors of Russia” mentioned in the Message of Fatima] was only the most visible of the instruments of subversion to be used against the Church and the traditions of Divine Revelation … I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul. … I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past.

A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “Where have they taken Him?”1

Father Joseph Schweigl (September 1952)

In 1952 Father Joseph Schweigl was entrusted by Pope Pius XII with a secret mission to interrogate Sister Lucy about the Third Secret. He subsequently stated:

I cannot reveal anything of what I learned at Fatima concerning the Third Secret, but I can say that it has two parts: one concerns the Pope; the other logically (although I must say nothing) would have to be the continuation of the words: ‘In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved.’2

Cardinal Oddi (March 1990)

On March 17, 1990 Cardinal Oddi, who was a personal friend of Pope John XXIII and who had spoken to him regarding the Secret, gave the following testimony to Italian journalist Lucio Brunelli in the journal Il Sabato:

It [the Third Secret] has nothing to do with Gorbachev. The Blessed Virgin was alerting us against apostasy in the Church.3

Cardinal Ciappi

In a personal communication to a Professor Baumgartner in Salzburg, Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi, who was the personal papal theologian to Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, revealed:

In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.4

Father Malachi Martin (Summer 1998)

In a four-hour interview on the Art Bell radio program, Father Malachi Martin stated that in February 1960, while he was secretary to Cardinal Bea (who was one of the close advisors to Pope John XXIII), Father Malachi was given the Third of Fatima to read. Bound by oath not to reveal the Secret, he commented on different versions, which callers quoted to him on the program. He stated that Our Lady’s words were dry and specific. In response to a quotation that a pope would be under the control of satan, he responded, “Yes, it sounds as if they were reading the text of the Third Secret.” He stated that the release of the Secret would provoke strong reactions. He stated that if the Secret were made public, the confessionals and churches would be filled with parishioners on their knees. He also stated that something very relevant to the U.S. is mentioned in the Secret. He stated that the central element of the Secret is awful, and that it concerns apostasy.

Father Jose Valinho (2000 and 2003)

Finally there is Sister Lucy’s nephew, Father Jose dos Santos Valinho. He related his opinion of the contents of the Third Secret in a book by Renzo and Roberto Allegri entitled Reportage su Fatima [Milan 2000], which was published – providentially enough – very shortly before the disclosure of the vision purported to be the Third Secret and the publication of booklet entitled The Message of Fatima by Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone. Father Valinho stated:

I believe that (third) part of the secret concerns the Church from within, perhaps doctrinal difficulties, a crisis of unity, rebellion. The last sentence my aunt wrote, which precedes the part that is still unknown, says, ‘In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved.’ … Therefore, people elsewhere in the Church might waver on dogma. But this is just speculation.5

On February 14, 2003 Father Valinho also spoke about the Third Secret on the program ENIGMA. It was transmitted prime time, nationwide on RAI, the national television network of Italy. Father Valinho stated on this ocassion:

I believe that there is a connection between that which is announced in the first part of the Secret, which concerns wars and sufferings which would be everywhere, and the second part which concerns the persecutions and a type of breakdown of the faith. Because where the ellipsis (the three dots, “…”) was placed, it means “Here is the third part, which is not revealed” and then the conclusion “In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved etc.” This suggests to me that there is a relationship between faith and the third part of the Secret. Therefore, it is something that relates to the Church. It is some kind of universal crisis which affects the whole Church and all of humanity.6

Notes:

1. Pope Pius XII, quoted in Msgr. Roche, Pius XII Devant L’Histoire, pp. 52-53.

2. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. III, Immaculate Heart of Mary Press, Buffalo, NY, 1989, pg. 710.

3. Kramer, Rev. Paul, ed., The Devil’s Final Battle, The Missionary Association, Terryville, Connecticut, 2002, pg. 33

4. See Father Gerard Mura, “The Third Secret of Fatima: Has It Been Completely Revealed?”, the periodical Catholic, (published by the Transalpine Redemptorists, Orkney Isles, Scotland, Great Britain) March 2002.

5. Ibid.

6. Reported in The Fatima Crusader, issue 74, p. 76.

Related Articles:

In the “Published Testimony” series:

Father Fuentes (1957)
Neues Europa (1963)
Father Alonso (1975-1981)
Pope John Paul II in Fulda, Germany (1980)
Sister Lucy’s Letter (1982)
The Bishop of Fatima (September 10, 1984)
Cardinal Ratzinger (November 1984)

Cardinal Ratzinger
(November 1984)

On November 11, 1984, Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview in Jesus magazine, a publication of the Pauline Sisters. The interview is entitled “Here is Why the Faith is in Crisis,” and was published with the Cardinal’s explicit permission. In this interview, Cardinal Ratzinger revealed that he had read the Third Secret and that the Secret refers to “dangers threatening the faith and the life of the Christian and therefore (the life) of the world.”

Cardinal Ratzinger said in the same interview that the Secret also refers to “the importance of the Novissimi [the Last Times / the Last Things]” and that “If it is not made public, at least for the time being, it is in order to prevent religious prophecy from being mistaken for a quest for the sensational …” The Cardinal further revealed that “the things contained in this ‘Third Secret’ correspond to what has been announced in Scripture and has been said again and again in many other Marian apparitions, first of all that of Fatima …”

Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter

Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today’s China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one.

Rumors and questions are circulating about Pope Francis and the time when he was the Jesuit provincial of Argentina and his relationship to two imprisoned Jesuits and the Argentine military dictatorship.

The Society of Jesus is filled with intelligent men who are passionate about their ideas and work, so of course there are arguments and disagreements just as there are in any family. I have had debates with other Jesuits over dinner where voices were raised, but that does not mean I don’t love them and would not be willing to die for them. We are a family.

Father Bergoglio, like Pope John Paul II, had serious reservations about liberation theology, which was embraced by many other Latin American Jesuits. As a North American I have trouble understanding these disputes since John Paul and Bergoglio obviously wanted justice for the poor while the liberation theologians were not in favor of violent revolution as their detractors claimed. But clearly this was an issue that divided the church in Latin America.

Part of the problem was the use of the term “Marxist analysis” by some liberation theologians, when they sought to show how the wealthy used their economic and political power to keep the masses down. The word “Marxist,” of course, drove John Paul crazy. Meanwhile, the Latin American establishment labeled as Communist anyone who wanted economic justice and political power for workers. Even many decent but cautious people feared that strikes and demonstrations would lead to violence. What is “prudent” can divide people of good will……..read more

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today’s China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one.

via Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter.

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council

Man’s deeper questionings

The world of today reveals itself as at once powerful and weak, capable of achieving the best or the worst. There lies open before it the way to freedom or slavery, progress or regression, brotherhood or hatred. In addition, man is becoming aware that it is for himself to give the right direction to forces that he himself has awakened, forces that can be his master or his servant. He therefore puts questions to himself.

The tensions disturbing the world of today are in fact related to a more fundamental tension rooted in the human heart. In man himself many elements are in conflict with each other. On one side, he has experience of his many limitations as a creature. On the other, he knows that there is no limit to his aspirations, and that he is called to a higher kind of life.

Many things compete for his attention, but he is always compelled to make a choice among them. and to renounce some. What is more, in his weakness and sinfulness he often does what he does not want to do, and fails to do what he would like to do. In consequence, he suffers from a conflict within himself, and this in turn gives rise to so many great tensions in society.

Very many people, infected as they are with a materialistic way of life, cannot see this dramatic state of affairs in all its clarity, or at least are prevented from giving thought to it because of the unhappiness that they themselves experience.

Many think that they can find peace in the different philosophies that are proposed.

Some look for complete and genuine liberation for man from man’s efforts alone. They are convinced that the coming kingdom of man on earth will satisfy all the desires of his heart.

There are those who despair of finding any meaning in life: they commend the boldness of those who deny all significance to human existence in itself, and seek to impose a total meaning on it only from within themselves.

But in the face of the way the world is developing today, there is an ever increasing number of people who are asking the most fundamental questions or are seeing them with a keener awareness: What is man? What is the meaning of pain, of evil, of death, which still persist in spite of such great progress? What is the use of those successes, achieved at such a cost? What can man contribute to society, what can he expect from society? What will come after this life on earth?

The Church believes that Christ died and rose for all, and can give man light and strength through his Spirit to fulfill his highest calling; his is the only name under heaven in which men can be saved.

So too the Church believes that the center and goal of all human history is found in her Lord and Master.

The Church also affirms that underlying all changes there are many things that do not change; they have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever.

Father Fessio’s Pope Benedict | Daily News | NCRegister.com

Father Fessio’s Pope Benedict XVI

A Way With Words

Father Fessio soon learned that the same luminous clarity enlivened Father Ratzinger’s published works.

“Back in 1968, when he published the Introduction to Christianity, the prose was already there,” said Father Fessio, referring to a work that remains a key textbook for graduate theological studies.

When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was completed in 1992, during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, Father Fessio reviewed the text and immediately noticed that it bore signs of Joseph Ratzinger’s distinctive ability to synthesize challenging material. At the time, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was the president of the catechism’s Preparatory Commission, which worked for six years to complete the project.

“When I first received the Catechism, I spent a whole retreat meditating on the Table of Contents — it was so beautiful. The Catechism wasn’t just a summary or a book of lists, it presented the faith as an organic whole,” said Father Fessio.

After his mentor was elected pope, Catholics across the globe had their first taste of Benedict’s literary gifts.

“Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world — this is the invitation I would like to extend with the present encyclical,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est, his first encyclical.

“He is like a painter using his palette to produce a portrait,” said Father Fessio, noting that the Pope also managed to work his magic in collaborative synodal documents as well as his encyclicals.

“He uses simple images — light and dark. You notice the same thing when you open up The Lord of the Rings and begin reading a paragraph: The majority of words are one syllable, and they convey profound thoughts and emotions.”

Thus, when Pope Benedict was enthroned in 2005, “he talked about the pallium, and, when he spoke to the cardinals, he noted that red is for martyrdom.”

Same Man, Different Settings

Over the course of more than 40 years, Father Fessio has stayed in touch with his former professor, meeting with other students from Regensburg for annual gatherings and collaborating on a variety of projects. During that time, the priest said, he has witnessed very little change in the man who will resign from the Petrine office on Feb. 28.

“He was always a theologian of the Church,” he said. “I saw the same man doing the same thing in different settings. He is a faithful servant, and Blessed John Paul II relied on him a good deal.

“But look how the liturgy changed as soon as Benedict was made pope. Chant was introduced. It means that he was not in favor of the kind of liturgies that Pope John Paul II celebrated, but he accepted it. And when he was pope, he acted differently.”

Indeed, while media commentators still dredge up Cardinal Ratzinger’s nickname of “God’s Rottweiler” from his days as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father Fessio has “never heard him raise his voice. He was always a listener, even at the CDF.”

“I wouldn’t call him shy; I would call him reserved. He is not someone who would enjoy a cocktail party,” said Father Fessio.

“Yes, he is firm. He has tremendous confidence because he has confidence in Christ. Friendship in Christ: It is the bass note in all his work.”

The resulting spiritual serenity sustained him amid the tumultuous decades following the Second Vatican Council, when the German cardinal sparked animosity by insisting that the Council did not constitute a break with the continuity of Catholic Tradition.

Father Fessio recalled a remark the Pope made during a meeting some time after his election.

Another Catholic publisher asked the Holy Father why only Ignatius Press was publishing his works. Father Fessio recalled  that the Pope calmly responded, “Because when no one else cared, they published my works.’”

When Father Fessio learned that the Pope would resign during Lent, he quickly grasped the significance of his timing.

“He was born during Holy Week,” he said. “And I am confident he chose the time for his resignation because he wanted the next pope as an ‘Easter’ pope, with time for reflection.”

Added Father Fessio, “His life begins and ends with the Paschal mystery.”

Joan Frawley Desmond is the Register’s senior editor.

Read more: Pope Benedict | Daily News | NCRegister.com.

A spotlight on ‘the most interesting man in the church’ | National Catholic Reporter

A spotlight on ‘the most interesting man in the church’ | National Catholic Reporter.

While working on his doctorate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Ravasi spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Jordan on archeological digs, and later served as prefect of the prestigious Ambrosian Library in Milan. Among those who know Ravasi, his penchant for literary allusion is legendary; rarely can he talk for more than five minutes without citing wildly diverse sources such as St. Augustine, Isaac Newton, Vladimir Nabakov, and the Russian Orthodox liturgy.

Despite his prodigious learning, Ravasi has a strong popular touch. On Friday night in Rome he delivered some reflections on Albert Camus at the Jesuit-run Church of Gesù, which struggled to contain an overflow crowd.

Ravasi was scheduled to lead this week’s retreat, delivering a series of spiritual reflections on the Psalms, long before Benedict announced his historic decision to renounce the papacy. The timing, however, means that Ravasi now has a rare opportunity to make a final impression on the other cardinals of the Roman Curia, who are certain to be among the kingmakers in the impending conclave. Moreover, his words will certainly make the rounds in the form of written summaries and rebroadcasts on Vatican Radio, giving the whole world an indirect week-long look at the man who could be pope.