Art and Evangelization Print
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 14:10

Written by Joe Waters

As a follow-up to my last post...
Here is a quote of Cardinal Ratzinger's that I first saw in Fr John Saward's book The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty (Ignatius, 1997), but which I think is from The Spirit of the Liturgy:

the only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church's human history.

For some time now there seems to have been a proliferation of lay Catholic apologists on the national speaking circuit and while they do great work, the sort of propositional apologetics they practice cannot become a substitute for true evangelization that is an encounter with the Person, Jesus Christ. I think the Holy Father's invitation here is to recognize that a far better approach to evangelization and apologetics is found in the saints, art, and the community of disciples that gives rise to these under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I am afraid that we often substitute propositional apologetics for the hard work of genuine holiness, creativity born of prayer, and fostering the types of Christian communities that bear witness to Christ in the world.