This year for Christmas my husband gave me Bishop Robert Barron's new book, To Light a Fire on the Earth. When I asked for it I didn't even know what it was about, but I had heard good things and it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Barron's.
Of course I dove in right away Christmas day. After a brief summary of his life, the book delves into Barron's philosophy of evangelization, which may be summed up in three words:
Lead with beauty.
I turned the pages in utter delight, for I realized that this has been my own (albeit unarticulated) method of evangelization since I took up graphic design at age sixteen. It is, essentially, to draw people into the mystery of God and the fullness of the Catholic faith by inviting them into an encounter with something beautiful, "...something so obviously transcendent and powerful, [that it] leads people to wonder how such a thing is possible, what might have fostered it or inspired it, and from there an openness to the divine and religious thought is born."1To Light a Fire on the Earth, pg. 50.
"Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only 'finds' the beautiful moving; he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it."
—Hans Urs von Balthasar
And the beautiful is by no means limited to art, although art is certainly a powerful gateway. Beauty may be found in literature, architecture, movies, music, nature, the human form—even, according to Barron, the exciting atmosphere of a baseball game. For indeed, all that is beautiful and true and good points to the ultimate source of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness: him who we call God.
Here at the start of the new year, I have, like most people, made new resolutions—like eating better and working out again. But for tiSpark it is less a new resolution and more like a deepened affirmation: That in all my work I will seek the beautiful. That my life will be a witness to the good. That my words will speak Truth. I will allow the Holy Spirit to move and inspire, so that my art will be done not only for its own sake and not even for the advancement of my skill, but for the praise and the glory of God.
And on that note, I make no promises for the art that I will produce over the next year, for I may be captivated by anything, from a woman's face to my beloved horse. But in all of these, I am motivated by beauty.