Maybe you have heard the expression, a picture is worth a thousand words. There is definitely some merit to this saying. The pictures, symbols and signs which surround us, are actually capable of speaking volumes! Just think of a stop sign, a countries flag, a set of stop lights, a no smoking sign… The list goes on. These images are able to express rules, cultures, behaviours and procedures without saying a word.
Now if I said there are certain images, symbols and pictures which are capable of expressing truth itself, would you agree?
The Catechsism of the Catholic Church writes this, “Truth is beautiful in itself… Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect. But truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltation of the soul, the mystery of God”.
So what we’re saying is: truth is beauty. Truth is understandable by means of the intellect. But truth can also be understood apart from words.
” Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos- which both the child and the scientist discover-” from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator’ ‘for the author of beauty created them'” ( pg. 532, 2500).
If God wishes to reveal himself through creation, then we need to search for him in these created realities. It’s incredible that he chooses such relatable, attainable and everyday circumstance to speak to us.
It is also true that sacred art, in many different forms, is a way to encounter God, truth, beauty and goodness. ” Created ‘ in the image of God’ man also expresses the truth of his relationship with the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works” ( CCC pg. 533, 2501).
Take for instance this icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the child Jesus. The beauty of this image is not only because of the artists’ talent. No, it is beautiful because it reflects God as our Creator. It is beautiful because it points us to what is true. It is beautiful because it moves us to contemplate God, who is love and life!
So, a picture is worth a thousand words, yes. But, it is also capable of bringing us closer to the Creator of the universe who is truth and beauty itself. What a blessing it is to understand God, his Mother, the Saints, Angels and the Church through sacred art.