Images and the transmission of the faith


Sandro Magister wrote about the new Compendium a few weeks ago. In his piece (see about 3/4 of the way down the page), he includes an article that appeared in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops' Conference.

The use of sacred images is nothing new. Long before there were written catechisms, the Church made systematic use of art in order to communicate the contents of the faith. This was much more than a pragmatic stratagem, and perhaps this greater dimension has sometimes been misunderstood or overlooked in the past. Benedict XVI has done justice to Christian art.

Of course, the sensitivity and commitment of his predecessors prepared the way. But now, with this important step, the pope has restored the image to the people of God precisely where the Church communicates to the people, through the catechism, the great deposit of the faith.

Imagery is a structural part of the Christian faith. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul defines Christ himself as the image, the icon of the invisible Father. The Gospels and the letters of John similarly emphasize the fact that, in Christ, what previously was a verbal expression has become an iconographic expression. The Word became flesh so that we could see. The Word of God made himself visible, the first letter of John says, so that we could contemplate him, see him, and touch him with our hands.

So, as one of Paul's other writings says, what God spoke on many occasions to our fathers through the prophets he no longer says in words, because words have shown themselves to be inadequate for expressing the full weight of what God has to say, and for man's capacity to understand his message. In these last times, God has spoken through something that everyone can see: the manifestation of his very being in the glory of his Son.

The whole thing is quite good.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on July 30, 2005 12:56 PM.

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