March 2013 Print

The Last Word


Producing art presupposes a mind using material means such as words, sounds, colors, measurements, materials in order to express realities that go beyond the realms of material things. Art for this reason is only conceivable for a mind imbued with higher ideas, gifted with special sensibilities, for a mind gifted with an exceptional talent for expression. An artist has to use the material world and means, and at the same time he has to raise it up to a higher level.

The Gothic cathedral, for example, is a building supported, not by walls, but by pillars. The stone structure is supposed to be pointed; the accentuation of the vertical axis is one of the defining characteristics of Gothic architecture. A large number of huge glass windows replace the stonework and makes the edifice extremely transparent. Light plays an important role in this design.

This transparency applies to multiple aspects of the visible and invisible world: the cathedral does not only want to be transparent to the light of the sun, it wants to be transparent to supernatural reality, to heaven, to the divine light. The cathedral provides much more than a roof over one’s head: it is a reminder that forces the visitor to look up, to raise his eyes and to fix his desires upon the things which are above the world.

Gothic master builders were convinced that order is based on the laws of mathematics. The ratios we find in geometry, in music and in the cosmos should be found in the proportions of the cathedral so that it will be harmonious and perfect. Architects therefore studied these laws and found out about the correspondence between musical harmonies and the geometric system of measurement in order to apply them to their buildings. The cathedral as a model of order is a reflection of geometrical and cosmic proportions, is music translated in the language of stones. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: “I have the impression that the whole temple is singing.”

Modern times—materialistic, practically minded, profit seeking and following utilitarian principles as major guidelines—have a limited appreciation of what is beautiful, timeless and ingenious. A large section of the population in reference to beauty and aesthetics would rather prefer easy pleasure and emotional satisfaction.

The challenge and aim of the Angelus team was to offer a useful guide to the source of spiritual and artistic richness of Catholic life. To the alert eye, going attentively through this edition, the exceptional value of beauty will become apparent. We hope the diligent reader will learn that art is much more than just a mere human work and that real architecture transcends the sphere of lines and numbers.

In Christo,

Father Jürgen Wegner