The Theology of Beauty and the Sacred Liturgy

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Every sacrament of the Church involves encounter with the things of heaven, bringing aesthetic knowledge of things outside of the natural realm through earthly matter, leading to the concept of “sacramental aesthetics.” This course investigates the theological concept of Beauty in the classical realist tradition, defining beauty as the revelation of the nature of things as understood in the mind of God, which in turn leads to investigation of the Truth of things. The understanding of Beauty as understood in the West by Thomas Aquinas will be explained, as will that of the East in the tradition of iconography, then all will be tied together in understanding the nature of the scared liturgy as a beautiful revelation of God’s own self to His creatures.  

The Theology of Beauty and the Sacred Liturgy

Class 1: Sacramental Aesthetics

Class 2: John Paul II's Letter to Artists and Useful Terms

Class 3: Thomas Aquinas and Beauty

Class 4: The Theology of Icons  

Class 5: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar

Taught by Dr. Denis McNamara

Dr. Denis McNamara is Associate Professor of Sacramental Aesthetics and Academic Director at the Liturgical Institute. He holds a BA in the History of Art from Yale University and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, where he concentrated his research on the study of ecclesiastical architecture with Richard Guy Wilson and Carroll William Westfall.  

Dr. McNamara makes a specialty of bridging the gap between the Church’s great artistic tradition and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He has also done groundbreaking research on scriptural understandings of architecture and the sacramental meaning of the classical architectural tradition. 

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Are you ready to study the Church’s liturgical life in an atmosphere that is rigorously academic and deeply prayerful?

At the Liturgical Institute students enjoy a mix of intense study and research; invigorating lectures and discussions; and active intelligent participation in the Church’s liturgical life with daily celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, all with an eye toward the renewal of the Church.

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