Book Categories. Authors In the News! Walter Kasper.
Richard Leonard. More from this Author. Beauty: A Path to God is an invitation to embrace a spirituality of beauty. Grounded in the foundational writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar, it explores the ability of beauty to introduce components of prayer, joy, and spirituality into our lives today.
How to Stay on God's Paths
Starting by looking broadly at the spirituality that comes from living amidst beauty, it then focuses on the beauty that resides in key aspects of a strong spiritual life, exploring the beauty inherent in appreciating the present moment, the beauty associated with forgiveness, and the beauty that comes from gratitude.
Merrill said there is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is, while Victor Hugo said it expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. In a beautiful tribute, the great organist Helmut Walcha said: "Bach opens a vista to the universe.
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After experiencing him, people feel there is meaning to life after all. But there's the rub. Many people can be deeply moved by music, as I am, without the slightest inclination to the religious impulse that it gives to me. What is happening: are they being pointed to a higher reality they are not at this point able to accept? That would be a tendentious claim.
Finding Your Own Spiritual Path to God
Yet I certainly don't want to concede that the sense of spiritual elevation or transcendence that many people encounter when listening to great music is merely a subjective or psychological state. The important word there is "merely" — it is, of course, a subjective experience, wonderfully so. But that's not all it is. My musings were freshened again by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's September Beethoven festival, with British pianist Paul Lewis playing all five of Beethoven's piano concertos in four concerts.
If it were not bordering on blasphemy, I should describe Lewis' playing as near-miraculous, every single one of the tens of thousands of notes deeply considered for touch, colour, shape and architecture, and near-perfectly executed. The struggle, torment, beauty, nobility and serenity were all movingly realised. Many composers fully understood the link between music and the spiritual. Gustav Mahler observed that if a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.
Some felt they were touched by the divine, while Scriabin, a Russian musical megalomaniac and mystic, had no doubt he was the divine.
The path of justice
He believed the first performance of his week-long masterwork Mysterium , to be given at a specially built temple in the Himalayas, would bring to an end the world as we know it in a purifying ecstasy and would usher in a new era of "nobler beings". Perhaps fortunately, he never finished it.
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Obviously, what sets music apart is that it can bypass our rational centre to reach the human core. As Martin Luther observed, this makes it ideal for worship. Music has always had this role in my life: it unleashes emotions I sometimes find hard to express, and I am certain that helped lead to my adult conversion to Christianity.