Saturday, February 07, 2004

Beauty Most Sublime

Today, I went to a symposium on "The Theological Aftermath of Vatican II", with Avery Cardinal Dulles, sponsored by the University of Chicago's Lumen Christi Institute. It was an absolutely fascinating discussion of the current state of Catholic theologians and misinterpretations of critical Vatican II documents. I was particularly impressed by Father Robert Barron's response, in which he suggested that much anthropocentric theology could be rescued from subjectivism with a emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in human experience. When I have time, I'm going to go read a book or two by him. The real experience, though, was the concluding Mass at Rockefeller Chapel.

The minutes after we (the choir) finished practicing, but before the Mass began, were a reflection on sublime beauty. It occurred to me that an enclosed cathedral is somehow more "spacious" than the outdoor sky (maybe because we can see the continuity of a majestic arch up to the ceiling, rather than a blank gulf over the heads of the trees), and then the organ began to play the central melodic section from Holst's Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. I'd found the song lovely through headphones, but there's something about the live experience, hearing it echo off of the stone walls as the young women in the choir chant along from memory, that almost moved me to tears there and then.

It was a fantastic Mass, celebrated by Avery Cardinal Dulles, concelebrated by Francis Cardinal George and two other bishops, with all of the beautiful little trappings (save for a Catholic chapel with a tabernacle), and a good Medici dinner afterwards. All in all, a very worthwhile day.

Current Task: Not writing my European Civilization paper (life imitates art)
Current Mood: Wildly swinging

P.S. I seriously need a haircut; however, I must say I like the silhouette cast by my wooly head these days. OK, that was absolutely random.

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