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The Way of Beauty

This Rock is a magazine of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. As we prepare each issue, we ask whether we have served that goal. Usually, the apologetics part is pretty clear: Did we defend the Church through Scripture? Did we teach real (not urban-legend) history? Did we explain and uphold Sacred Tradition? But how do we grade ourselves on evangelization? That part is not so straightforward: What does this issue do to further evangelization? Is it reaching the unchurched? The anti-churched? Before we we try to judge that, maybe we ought to define apologetics and evangelization. Here is how I think of it: Apologetics is giving reasons for faith. Evangelization is inviting people to faith. Bear with me as I take a detour here. Jesus, the Word of God—the Logos —isn’t just manifest in reasoned arguments. As Michael Schrauzer observes in his article on page 6, Jesus

spoke of the Father in parables, using the likeness of material things. He worked signs and wonders to allude to his divine power . . . He cured physical diseases as a token of his ability to cure spiritual disease and forgive sins. When he was transfigured, his blinding brightness was a visible analog of his infinite glory. And he bequeathed us those greatest of all outward signs, the sacraments.

Christ, the Word made flesh and the image of God, doesn’t just speak to minds using words: He speaks to hearts, using beauty. He speaks through the beauty of nature, of science, of visual arts, of music, of stage and film, of stories. And we too can use these things to speak of him. We live, largely, in a post-rational age. That seems, at first, like an insurmountable obstacle to a magazine, whose purpose is to teach through words. But as we’ve seen, the Logos is not limited to words. That’s why I thought it was so important in the redesign some years ago to start using traditional, beautiful Catholic art. Catholic art is evangelistic because it is a manifestation of the Logos. In these pages, we have tried to teach about images in order to equip you—the evangelist—to invite others to believe by appealing to their hearts: through reason, certainly, but also through beauty: the via pulchritudinis. That’s the reason we spend so much time and ink teaching about things that don’t seem—on the surface—to have anything to do with apologetics. We want to give you the tools that will allow you to manifest the Logos —to reveal the image of God—in a way that can be accepted by the unchurched and the anti-churched as well as the partially churched. In a nutshell: If ears and minds are closed to the Word, perhaps hearts may still be receptive to his image. How are we doing? How can we do better?

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