This is the time of year when many people set forth resolutions. Sometimes these mission statements are over before they start, and it seems like a few make any lasting changes. I have had a checkered past with making successful resolutions, and I want 2014 to be a year to remember.
My thoughts kept coming back to the address given by Bishop James Conley at the Catholic Answers Apologetics Conference. He spoke about the role of beauty in restoring the Catholic Church. He then suggested that beauty can evangelize in many ways: via the liturgy, an appreciation of ancient Christian culture, and an openness to beauty of all forms.
In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the universal human response to beauty as “something bigger, something that speaks, capable touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul. How many times, then, can artistic expressions be occasions to remind us of God, to help our prayer or the conversion of the heart.”
I thought about the beautiful things that go under-appreciated in my own home. I thought about how the din of our modern world steals experiential beauty from us. Art and music, travel, family time, adoration… of these things that I express a desire to do but lack in time and attention. I thought about some of my own simple pleasures. My woodworking hobby and the childlike fascination I feel when I look at a figured piece of curly maple wood. The joy of dancing around the kitchen with my daughter to a song on the radio. The meaningful connection felt when having a real conversation with my beautiful wife. I wished there could be less noise and more of these experiences.
A few days later, I was thinking about the Year of Faith and how Pope Benedict gave the world this wonderful gift and I wondered if Pope Francis would declare another type of focus for the coming year. It dawned on me that I didn’t have to wait and see… what Pope Benedict did for the Church, I can do within my own home. I had my resolution:
I resolve to make 2014 the Year of Beauty. I will appreciate simple experiential beauty in any way possible: art, music, sculpture, travel, silence, prayer, meaningful conversation, and family. The goal is to elevate my soul to God, the source of all beauty.
I want to spend more time in January getting reconnected with music, and I would also like to experience a Latin Mass for the first time. Have you ever been touched by a beautiful experience in your life in the way that Pope Emeritus Benedict describes above? If so, share with the class.
For those interested: The National Catholic Register covered Bishop Conley’s address here and it is now available from Catholic Answers in both digital edition and in a CD collection. Check it out for some great inspiration!
Won’t you join me in ushering in a beautiful 2014?