Mother Teresa's Secret
TIJUANA, Mexico, SEPT. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).Ahead of the 13th anniversary of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's death on Sunday, and following the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth (Aug. 26), Missionary of Charity Father Joseph Langford shared with ZENIT some excerpts of his book "Mother Teresa's Secret Fire" (Our Sunday Visitor).
Together with Mother Teresa, Father Langford is a co-founder of the priestly branch of the Missionaries of Charity.
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The Train to Darjeeling: Another Reading
On the morning of Sept. 10, Sister Teresa Bojaxhiu left Calcutta's Howrah Station, bound for Siliguri, in the northern plains of West Bengal. She would disembark in Siliguri and board what was affectionately called the "toy train," so nicknamed for its tiny dimensions, and from there continue on the last leg of her journey.
The tiny train's steam powered engine climbed along a narrow, two-foot gauge track up to Darjeeling, snuggled five thousand feet high in the foothills of the Himalayas. We can surmise something of Mother Teresa's journey from an earlier account of a similar trip to Darjeeling, recorded by a visiting Englishman:
[The fact that] here the meter gauge system ends and the two foot gauge of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway begins, confirms what these things hint at. One steps into a railway carriage which might easily be mistaken for a toyWith a noisy fuss, out of all proportion to its size, the engine gives a jerk and starts. Sometimes we cross our own track after completing the circuit of a cone, at others we zigzag backwards and forwards; but always we climb
As the train ascended into the clean, cool mountain air, Sister Teresa would have looked out her window onto lush thickening forests. Trains were slow in that day, not because the engines were weak, but because the track was unreliable. A trip of several hours could turn into days, as late-summer heat could buckle rails and add hours to the journey. But, when moving, a passenger's mind could ride the rhythm of the train's progress and easily move into prayer.
Somewhere on this ordinary journey, in the heat, in the gathering shadows, in the noisy, crowded car, something extraordinary happened. At some unknown point along the way, there in the depths of Mother Teresa's soul, the heavens opened.
For decades, all she would tell her Sisters of that life-changing moment was that she had received a "call within a call," a divine mandate to leave the convent and to go out to serve the poor in the slums. But something incomparably greater and more momentous had transpired as well. We now know, thanks to early hints in her letters and conversations, and her own later admissions, that she had been graced with an overwhelming experience of God -an experience of such power and depth, of such intense "light and love," as she would later describe it, that by the time her train pulled into the station at Darjeeling, she was no longer the same. Though no one knew it at the time, Sister Teresa had just become Mother Teresa.
For the still young nun, barely 36 years old, another journey was beginning; an inner journey with her God that would turn every aspect of her life upside down. The grace of the train would not only transform her relationship to God, but to everyone and everything around her. Within eight short days, the grace of this moment would carry her and her newfound inner fire back down the same mountainside, and into a new life. From the heights of the Himalayas she would bring a profoundly new sense of her God back into the sweltering, pestilent slums of Calcutta -and onto a world stage, bearing in her heart a light and love beyond her, and our, imagining.
From then on, Mother Teresa would simply refer to September 10th as "Inspiration Day," an experience she considered so intimate and ineffable that she resisted speaking of it, save in the most general terms. Her silence would prevail until the last few years of her life, when she at last was moved to lift the veil covering this sacred moment.
Putting It All Together
As I worked on our constitutions in the Bronx, I began to ask myself if there might be a connection between Mother Teresa's experience on the train and Jesus' words, "I thirst." Could they both be part of the same grace; could it be that Mother Teresa's encounter on the train was, at its core, an encounter with Jesus' thirst? If that were the case, the words on the wall would simply be her way of telling us, without training the spotlight on herself, yet in a way we would not forget, the essence of what had happened that grace-filled day on the train.
As I prayed and thought over it in those months, I became more persuaded that the grace of the train had been, at least in part, Mother Teresa's own overpowering experience of Jesus' thirst. The only thing left to complete my quest was to seek her confirmation.
On her next visit to New York, in early 1984, I finally had both reason and opportunity to ask her about the experience of the train. A few days into her visit, when I was alone with her in the front garden outside our house in the Bronx, I told her of what had been my long search to better understand her "inspiration," and my desire to describe it accurately in our community's constitutions. I explained to her that, for me, the only thing that made sense of her placing "I thirst" in her chapels, was that it grew out of her own experience of the thirst of Jesus -and most importantly, that her encounter with the divine thirst had been the heart and essence of September 10th. If this were true, I did not want to leave it out of our constitutions, but if it were not, I did not want to continue being in error.
I waited in silence for an answer. She lowered her head for a moment, then looked up and said, "Yes, it is true." Then after a pause, she added, "And one day you must tell the others"
At last I had the confirmation I was seeking, and the answer to the questions sown in my soul years before in a Roman bookstore. Here, finally, was the core of Mother Teresa's secret. In the end, it had not been some dry command to "work for the poor" that had made Mother Teresa who she was. What had forged Mother Teresa's soul and fueled her work had been an intimate encounter with the divine thirst -for her, for the poor, and for us all.
More than a confirmation, her words that day were a mandate. This was not to be the end of my quest, nor of delving into the words on the chapel wall. It was, instead, another beginning. I had to somehow "tell the others;" and while I felt entirely inadequate to the task, I needed to find some way to share her words, not only with her Sisters, but with a wider public.
In the most indirect and humble of ways, not unlike the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa had wished to exalt the goodness of the God she had met on the train, and the divine message that, after changing her life, held the power to change our own. She had always known, as I later realized, that her message was meant for us all -for the neediest and furthest away first of all. And the message of Jesus' thirst, of his longing to love us, silently conveyed in her works of love as much as by her few and gentle words, was bearing fruit all around her and all around the world. Already, in the time I had known her, I had seen with my own eyes how her unspoken message could touch, and heal, and change lives.
Her Message Launched
Mother Teresa's understanding of the thirst of God was entirely simple, yet deep, powerful and engaging. She learned that God not only accepts us with all our misery, but that he longs for us, "thirsts" for us, with all the intensity of his divine heart, no matter who we are or what we have done.
But how can God "thirst" for us if there is no lack in God? While thirst can imply lack, it also has another sense. In Mother Teresa's lexicon, thirst signifies deep, intense desire. Rather than indicating lack, the symbol of divine thirst points to the mystery of God's freely chosen longing for man. Simply put, though nothing in God needs us, everything in God wants us -deeply and intensely, as he shows throughout Scripture.
Mother Teresa's insights reveal something important, even essential, in the depths of God's being. Mother Teresa insists that the thirst of Christ reveals something not only about Jesus, but about God himself. Jesus' thirsts points us toward a great mystery in the very bosom of the Godhead -what Mother Teresa describes as "the depths of God's infinite longing to love and be loved." As ardent a statement as this is, her insights are confirmed by no less a source than the Fathers of the Church. The great St. Augustine would write that "God thirsts to be thirsted for by man" (see Appendix Three for a collection of patristic quotes on the divine thirst). In our own day, Benedict XVI would affirm that "the thirst of Christ is a gateway into the mystery of God."
The mystery of God's thirst for us was the one great light Mother Teresa held high in the night, hers and ours. This was the banner she raised for the poor and suffering of Calcutta and beyond. It was as witness to this message that Jesus commissioned her, soon after the experience of the train, to "Be My light;" and this she would energetically do, in season and out of season. She would spend her whole life proclaiming the light of divine love, even when her words fell silent, her hands spoke more eloquently still.
Sharing the Darkness of the Poor
As difficult and painful as her dark night became, Mother Teresa never allowed herself to become "lost" in her darkness. She never rebelled against it, nor against the God who laid it on her shoulders, nor against the poor of Calcutta with whom and for whom she bore it. On the contrary, she gradually came to understand its deeper meaning, and even to willingly embrace it for the sake of her God -who had borne that same agony for her sake, in Gethsemane.
Even while tending to the physical and material needs of the poor, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, Mother Teresa's primary focus was their "salvation and sanctification," their inner advancement toward divine union, as their highest dignity and long-term vocation. She was not sent simply to work for material betterment, a point even her admirers often miss. Calcutta's poorest, living and dying on the streets, enjoyed neither sufficient material goods, nor the goodness of their fellow man. Since they were left with nothing and no one to mirror to them the face of God, Mother Teresa was sent to show them in his name, in concrete works of love, how beloved of God they were. For love's sake, she herself would bear a portion of their interior pain. She would give of herself, in this life and the next, to "light the light of those in darkness on earth." The more the truth of her victorious faith is known, the more she will be an inspiration to those who are learning to f
ind their peace, to make their contribution, and to cling to their God, as she did, in the night.
Lessons in the Night
For all who "have eyes to see," there is a great light hidden here. Beyond the obvious light of Mother Teresa's charity, there in the heart of her night lies a deeper light still.
But how can light be born of darkness? This question is critical, for it is key to the process and the history of divine transformation. First, there is the creation story, in which the Almighty transformed the dark void into substance and light. There is the second creation story, where Adam and Eve are cast from a luminous Eden into a world of darkness and temptation. The Redeemer, light of the world, is heralded by a night-star at his birth. The Nicene Creed sings of him as "light from light, true God from true God." Finally, in the Resurrection, the darkness of death is conquered by his brilliance emerging from the tomb.
Darkness need not be the opposite, the enemy of light. When seeded with God's grace, darkness becomes its catalyst. Night becomes womb to day. It is the power of love, of God's own nature as love, that works this alchemy. When embraced for others, when transformed by love, darkness indeed becomes light.
Paradoxically, by embracing her darkness for the sake of the poor, Mother Teresa fulfilled her call -in her welcomed darkness she became God's light. Her sacrifice shone with a light that transcends our logic. 
The importance of Mother Teresa's example, even for those who bear much milder Calcuttas, is in showing how far faith and love can reach in this life -even in the night, even buffeted by pain, with every wind against it. Her victory in the night is proof that the exercise of faith and love is ultimately our free choice, never beholden to circumstance, a decision accessible at all times. God makes it always possible to move beyond preoccupation with our own pain, and to reach out to assuage the pain of others. Rather than isolating us, we can choose to make of life's burdens a sacred bridge into the pain of others.
Turning the Darkness to Light
We are each called and equipped by God to not only survive our personal Calcutta, but to serve there -to contribute to those around us whose individual Calcutta intersects our own, just as Mother Teresa did, if on a different scale. If she could face the worst of human suffering in such immense proportions, and do so despite bearing her own pain -then there must be a way that we can do the same in the lesser Calcutta that is ours. We must never forget, distracted by the demi-problems of our routine existence, just how important our one life is in the plan of God, and the great amount of good we can yet contribute.
How important can our one small, unspectacular life be? Consider this: the good that each of us can accomplish, even with limited resources and restricted reach, not even a Mother Teresa could achieve. The family, friends and coworkers whom we alone can touch, with our unique and unrepeatable mix of gifts and qualities, not even Mother Teresa could reach. No one else on the planet, and no one else in history possesses the same network of acquaintances and the same combination of talents and gifts as each of us do.
There is no need, then, to travel to far-off lands to contribute to Mother Teresa's mission, or to follow her example. Wherever we are, with whatever talents and relationships God has entrusted us, we are each called not to do what a Mother Teresa did, but to do as she did -to love as she loved in the Calcutta of our own life.
Mother Teresa's Secret
The inner fire that saw Mother Teresa through the night, will be her contribution for generations to come. Here is the wisdom of a Nobel Prize laureate and a saint; here is her recipe for happiness in the midst of want, for living for others despite one's own needs, for hoping in the face of setbacks, for peace within while conflict and struggle reign without, for giving our time and our love even while our own health and supports are wrenched away. Mother Teresa has taught us the divine alchemy that turns our personal hardships into compassion for others, our lack of material goods into wealth of spirit, and, should it come to that, the loss of our standard of living into the chance to become what ease and abundance would never have allowed us to be.
Mother Teresa's lessons will prepare us, as no political plan or economic program could, to live through our trials with grace, and to turn them into blessing for others. If this simple, humanly un-extraordinary woman could have filled Calcutta's slums with such love and energy and ingenuity, then we can learn to do the same in our life, no matter what may come.
Danielle Rose Pursues God's Call To A New Direction
FRANKLIN PARK, IL (July 28, 2010) Following two years of an intensely personal journey to discern her vocation with the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ—a Franciscan charismatic religious order—recording artist, composer, and Notre Dame graduate Danielle Rose accepted God’s invitation to witness the transformative grace of following God’s call. Free from the distractions of contemporary living, Danielle spent 28 months in communal and silent prayer listening to God—setting aside her musical career to discover who she truly is. Danielle accounts, “When I entered the convent, I thought this meant I would never record another CD or perform again. This was a very painful surrender. I realized that I had equated who I am with what I do,”
This religious community that welcomed and accompanied Danielle on her journey offered great support through her discernment. “The discernment process is a journey of steps,” says Danielle, “and all you can do is take one step at a time, in prayer, and listen to where God is leading you. It became peacefully, undeniably clear that God was leading me to resume my life in the world, with a profound freedom to embrace my call and mission.”
The decision to leave was not without struggle. Through the guidance of her spiritual director and the community of sisters, Danielle was able to identify the fears that might keep her from fully embracing God’s will for her life outside of the convent. She says she is very grateful for God’s invitation to enter the religious life and experience all it had to offer. Her time of formation ended in November 2009, when she left the convent and began her new journey.
Immediately before her entrance to the convent in August 2007, Danielle Rose recorded a new CD titled "Pursue Me," published by World Library Publications (www.wlpmusic.com). This project is her reflection on vocation. Her intent through this recording is to help those discerning their own vocation, by joining in their journey with her songs. “In my own life, I experienced the grace of hearing Jesus in the silence of my heart, revealing His eternal and infinite love for me as His bride. This album is a musical testimony of the grace that transformed my heart to respond to Christ’s call.” Her previous recordings include: "I Thirst" a musical reflection and celebration of the life of Mother Teresa; "Mysteries," a musical reflection of the rosary based on scripture; and her debut recording "Defining Beauty," featuring her widely popular song, "God Is."
Now, two and a half years later, Danielle is continuing the pursuit of God’s will in her life, leading her to resume travel, lead retreats, perform concerts, and share the music gifted to her with the world. Her message today is, “God is pursuing every soul, in every moment—in every vocation.” While Danielle knows that no one can be certain of the future, she trusts God, and says, “I will allow God to lead me in the dance of His will, one step at a time.”
Danielle Rose is now welcoming invitations to minister to parishes, retreat centers, and schools, as well as to perform for concerts and special events. She can be contacted for booking through Jose Melendez, email@example.com, or call 417.598.0607.
For media inquiries contact Lisa Bagladi, Public Relations Manager at World Library Publications, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847.233.2749.
Pursue Me CD, WLP #007570, ISBN 978-158459-4406, and all of Danielle Rose’s music is available to stores worldwide and can be found at www.wlpmusic.com, Amazon.com, and several digital music stores, including iTunes®, Rhapsody, Napster, and Verizon Wireless.
Benedict XVI's Address To Artists
With great joy I welcome you to this solemn place, so rich in art and in history. I cordially greet each and every one of you and I thank you for accepting my invitation. At this gathering I wish to express and renew the Church's friendship with the world of art, a friendship that has been strengthened over time; indeed Christianity from its earliest days has recognized the value of the arts and has made wise use of their varied language to express her unvarying message of salvation. This friendship must be continually promoted and supported so that it may be authentic and fruitful, adapted to different historical periods and attentive to social and cultural variations. Indeed, this is the reason for our meeting here today. I am deeply grateful to Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and likewise to his officials, for promoting and organizing this meeting, and I thank him for the words he has just addressed to me. I greet the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests and the various distinguished personalities present. I also thank the Sistine Chapel Choir for their contribution to this gathering. Today's event is focused on you, dear and illustrious artists, from different countries, cultures and religions, some of you perhaps remote from the practice of religion, but interested nevertheless in maintaining communication with the Catholic Church, in not reducing the horizons of existence to mere material realities, to a reductive and trivializing vision. You represent the varied world of the arts and so, through you, I would like to convey to all artists my invitation to friendship, dialogue and cooperation.
Some significant anniversaries occur around this time. It is ten years since the Letter to Artists by my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. For the first time, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope, who was an artist himself, wrote a Letter to artists, combining the solemnity of a pontifical document with the friendly tone of a conversation among all who, as we read in the initial salutation, "are passionately dedicated to the search for new 'epiphanies' of beauty". Twenty-five years ago the same Pope proclaimed Blessed Fra Angelico the patron of artists, presenting him as a model of perfect harmony between faith and art. I also recall how on 7 May 1964, forty-five years ago, in this very place, an historic event took place, at the express wish of Pope Paul VI, to confirm the friendship between the Church and the arts. The words that he spoke on that occasion resound once more today under the vault of the Sistine Chapel and touch our hearts and our minds. "We need you," he said. "We need your collaboration in order to carry out our ministry, which consists, as you know, in preaching and rendering accessible and comprehensible to the minds and hearts of our people the things of the spirit, the invisible, the ineffable, the things of God himself. And in this activity ... you are masters. It is your task, your mission, and your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colours, forms -making them accessible." So great was Paul VI's esteem for artists that he was moved to use daring expressions. "And if we were deprived of your assistance," he added, "our ministry would become faltering and uncertain, and a special effort would be needed, one might say, to make it artistic, even prophetic. In order to scale the heights of lyrical expression of intuitive beauty, priesthood would have to coincide with art." On that occasion Paul VI made a commitment to "re-establish the friendship between the Church and artists", and he invited artists to make a similar, shared commitment, analyzing seriously and objectively the factors that disturbed this relationship, and assuming individual responsibility, courageously and passionately, for a newer and deeper journey in mutual acquaintance and dialogue in order to arrive at an authentic "renaissance" of art in the context of a new humanism.
That historic encounter, as I mentioned, took place here in this sanctuary of faith and human creativity. So it is not by chance that we come together in this place, esteemed for its architecture and its symbolism, and above all for the frescoes that make it unique, from the masterpieces of Perugino and Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others, to the Genesis scenes and the Last Judgement of Michelangelo Buonarroti, who has given us here one of the most extraordinary creations in the entire history of art. The universal language of music has often been heard here, thanks to the genius of great musicians who have placed their art at the service of the liturgy, assisting the spirit in its ascent towards God. At the same time, the Sistine Chapel is remarkably vibrant with history, since it is the solemn and austere setting of events that mark the history of the Church and of mankind. Here as you know, the College of Cardinals elects the Pope; here it was that I myself, with trepidation but also with absolute trust in the Lord, experienced the privileged moment of my election as Successor of the Apostle Peter.
Dear friends, let us allow these frescoes to speak to us today, drawing us towards the ultimate goal of human history. The Last Judgement, which you see behind me, reminds us that human history is movement and ascent, a continuing tension towards fullness, towards human happiness, towards a horizon that always transcends the present moment even as the two coincide. Yet the dramatic scene portrayed in this fresco also places before our eyes the risk of man's definitive fall, a risk that threatens to engulf him whenever he allows himself to be led astray by the forces of evil. So the fresco issues a strong prophetic cry against evil, against every form of injustice. For believers, though, the Risen Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. For his faithful followers, he is the Door through which we are brought to that "face-to-face" vision of God from which limitless, full and definitive happiness flows. Thus Michelangelo presents to our gaze the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of history, and he invites us to walk the path of life with joy, courage and hope. The dramatic beauty of Michelangelo's painting, its colours and forms, becomes a proclamation of hope, an invitation to raise our gaze to the ultimate horizon. The profound bond between beauty and hope was the essential content of the evocative Message that Paul VI addressed to artists at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on 8 December 1965: "To all of you," he proclaimed solemnly, "the Church of the Council declares through our lips: if you are friends of true art, you are our friends!" And he added: "This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world."
Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair. The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation -if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.
Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy "shock", it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum -it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it "reawakens" him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. 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." The painter Georges Braque echoes this sentiment: "Art is meant to disturb, science reassures." Beauty pulls us up short, but in so doing it reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, fills us with new hope, gives us the courage to live to the full the unique gift of life. The quest for beauty that I am describing here is clearly not about escaping into the irrational or into mere aestheticism.
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. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation. 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, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day. In this regard, Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists, quotes the following verse from a Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: "Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up" (no. 3). And later he adds: "In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, the artist gives voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption" (no. 10). And in conclusion he states: "Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence" (no. 16).
These ideas impel us to take a further step in our reflection. Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, the fundamental themes that give life its meaning, can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality. This close proximity, this harmony between the journey of faith and the artist's path is attested by countless artworks that are based upon the personalities, the stories, the symbols of that immense deposit of "figures" -in the broad sense -namely the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures. The great biblical narratives, themes, images and parables have inspired innumerable masterpieces in every sector of the arts, just as they have spoken to the hearts of believers in every generation through the works of craftsmanship and folk art, that are no less eloquent and evocative.
In this regard, one may speak of a via pulchritudinis, a path of beauty which is at the same time an artistic and aesthetic journey, a journey of faith, of theological enquiry. The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar begins his great work entitled The Glory of the Lord -a Theological Aesthetics with these telling observations: "Beauty is the word with which we shall begin. Beauty is the last word that the thinking intellect dares to speak, because it simply forms a halo, an untouchable crown around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another." He then adds: "Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. It is no longer loved or fostered even by religion." And he concludes: "We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past -whether he admits it or not -can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love." The way of beauty leads us, then, to grasp the Whole in the fragment, the Infinite in the finite, God in the history of humanity. Simone Weil wrote in this regard: "In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious." Hermann Hesse makes the point even more graphically: "Art means: revealing God in everything that exists." Echoing the words of Pope Paul VI, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II restated the Church's desire to renew dialogue and cooperation with artists: "In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art" (no. 12); but he immediately went on to ask: "Does art need the Church?" -thereby inviting artists to rediscover a source of fresh and well-founded inspiration in religious experience, in Christian revelation and in the "great codex" that is the Bible.
Dear artists, as I draw to a conclusion, I too would like to make a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal to you, as did my Predecessor. You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty! Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity! And do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty! Faith takes nothing away from your genius or your art: on the contrary, it exalts them and nourishes them, it encourages them to cross the threshold and to contemplate with fascination and emotion the ultimate and definitive goal, the sun that does not set, the sun that illumines this present moment and makes it beautiful.
Saint Augustine, who fell in love with beauty and sang its praises, wrote these words as he reflected on man's ultimate destiny, commenting almost ante litteram on the Judgement scene before your eyes today: "Therefore we are to see a certain vision, my brethren, that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived: a vision surpassing all earthly beauty, whether it be that of gold and silver, woods and fields, sea and sky, sun and moon, or stars and angels. The reason is this: it is the source of all other beauty" (In 1 Ioannis, 4:5). My wish for all of you, dear artists, is that you may carry this vision in your eyes, in your hands, and in your heart, that it may bring you joy and continue to inspire your fine works. From my heart I bless you and, like Paul VI, I greet you with a single word: arrivederci!
[The Pope greeted the artists in various languages. In English, he said:]
Dear friends, thank you for your presence here today. Let the beauty that you express by your God-given talents always direct the hearts of others to glorify the Creator, the source of all that is good. God's blessings upon you all!
Danielle Rose Provides Inspiration CD to Young Adults and Men Seeking Life in Christ
Cullman, Alabama (October 26, 2009) World Library Publications (www.wlpmusic.com), the music and liturgy division of J.S. Paluch Company and the Paluch Family Foundation, has teamed with contemporary Catholic musical artist Danielle Rose in the release of a new CD titled Pursue Me, which Rose hopes will gift listeners with inspiration to follow God’s call in their chosen vocation.
Before leaving her career as a musical missionary and following God’s call to enter religious life in a Franciscan charismatic religious community, The Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, Danielle (now Sister Rose Therese) wanted to demonstrate her obvious love of God by creating reflective and meditative lyrics, both spiritually comforting and challenging, especially for those discerning about the priesthood or a religious vocation.
“I recorded Pursue Me with the great hope that God will be glorified by using these songs to encourage others who are also discerning a vocation to religious life,” Danielle said. This album is a musical testimony of the grace that transformed her heart to respond to Christ’s call and is a wonderful gift to the Church which is “destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.”
Like her past CD’s, which unfold with hidden lyrical and musical subtleties and beauty, Danielle’s insight, prayerful discernment, and vibrant joy and love are reflected in the newest project and can be truly appreciated only by listening. Her music has an intimate quality that calls each person to the heart of God – to rest in the joy and peace that is present in that full awareness. With appreciative reviews, this CD is a masterpiece with several real gems and a wide mix of styles, including a unique blend of southern gospel and bluegrass styles. In particular, the songs feature Danielle’s pure delicate voice, often likened to Alison Krause. Stand out songs include: ‘Pursue Me’, ‘Abraham’s Offering’, and ‘Gates of Heaven’.
Her popularity began with the release of ‘God Is’ from her debut album ‘Defining Beauty’, which continues as a top selling album, followed by her 2-CD set titled ‘Mysteries’, musical reflections on scripture based on the mysteries of the rosary, and ‘I Thirst’, musical reflections on the life of Mother Teresa. Danielle has touched and represents the hearts of the ‘JP II’ generation, who heard him proclaim over and over again, “Be Not Afraid (to follow Christ)” as well as today’s religious young people. These songs will inspire young adults discerning God’s call in their lives. It is hoped that her consoling voice and lyrics will encourage religious listeners to respond with a deeper ‘YES’ to God’s will so that they can co-create their vocation with God and for the good of all the Church.
Listen to Danielle’s testimony as contained in the booklet which accompanies the new CD. “In His great mercy, Jesus has pursued you relentlessly from the foundation of the world. What is your response? Be willing to sacrifice all that you are and all that you have for the love of him who gave his life for love of you. Allow God to reveal who you truly are, and trust in his loving plans to give you a future full of hope. As you take up your cross and follow in his footsteps, he will be with you and will sustain you every step of the way.”
The new ‘Pursue Me’ CD is available free-of-charge to those discerning about the priesthood or religious life and who are between the ages of 18 49 years of age. Young men and adults can obtain a copy of the new CD by contacting Br. Benedict Dyar, OSB, Associate Vocation Director, St. Bernard Abbey, 1600 St. Bernard Drive, S.E., Cullman, AL by using his e-mail address: email@example.com or the regular mailing address listed above. Young women can order a copy by contacting Sister Magdalena Craig, OSB, Vocation Director, Sacred Heart Monastery, 916 Convent Road, NE, Cullman, AL 35055 by using her e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or her regular mailing address. Allow one-two weeks for delivery. There is a limit of one CD per vocation prospect.
If you don’t qualify as a vocation candidate, you can purchase a copy of the CD (# 007570) by contacting World Library Publications (www.wlpmusic.com) at 800-566-6150 or using their e-mail address: email@example.com. The fax number is 888-957-3291. You can write them at: World Library Publications, 3708 River Road, Suite 400, Franklin Park, IL 60131 for more information. The price is $17 excluding postage and handling. Royalties from the sales of this CD will be directed to support vocations to the priesthood and religious life.