[This sermon was delivered at the extraordinary form Mass following the Chant Pilgrimage, September 26, 2009, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.] A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Its loveliness increases; It will never pass into nothingness.
When the envoys of Vladimir, Prince of Kiev returned from attending the Divine Liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople in the late tenth century, they gave this report; "We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on earth. We cannot describe it to you; only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget the beauty!"
President John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, told of a visit to a "Romish Chapel." It said in part: "The music was consisting of an organ and a choir of singers, went all the afternoon, excepting sermon time, and the assembly chanted--most sweetly and exquisitely. Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell."
St. Teresa of Avila declared, "I am always shaken by the grandeur of the ceremonies of the church." The love of beauty and its expression for the work of art is not itself beauty but its expression …