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Ricardo Piñero Moral
Full Professor of Aesthetics and Theory of the Arts
We should be very grateful to those who have reminded us with their lives that every moment of our existence is worthwhile, especially if they have done so because they are convinced that there is no more important goal than the search for truth. To be seekers of truth... that should be our daily commitment. Benedict XVI will always be an example of clarity, of intellectual honesty, of philosophical and theological rigor, but he will also always be an irrefutable test that the truth is not only convincing, but above all something desirable, pleasant and cordial.
One of the initiatives that most defines his way of being Pope came to light on the vigil of Christmas 2009. He invited all of us to take part in the Court of the Gentiles. Under that metaphorical formula was an authentic challenge. The purpose of this symbolic space was to keep alive the search for the supreme truth that is God. It challenged us all. Everyone means everyone: believers and non-believers, agnostics and atheists, intellectuals and workers, manual laborers and professionals from all walks of life. The reason was simple: to seek the truth as a qualified way to facilitate a meeting staff with Christ, with that Christ who is the very Incarnation of Truth. The Atrium was an important project in which he reflected from the intelligence and the heart, from dialogue and doctrine, from honesty and prudence, in order to deepen, renew and strengthen the beautiful presence of God in the life of human beings. He never doubted that knowing Christ better is what has made us discover the beauty of his Love.
Benedict XVI has taught us to share the gifts we have received, especially reason and faith, and has carefully shown us the beauty of an undisguised truth. His works have accompanied us in this search for an infinite horizon in which God himself becomes visible. With his words and with his actions he has insisted that we cannot live with our backs turned to what we believe. At every moment he has been an integral and faithful witness that those who live in and for the truth are also capable of discovering and loving, in addition, goodness and beauty. The splendor of beauty is the prelude to that loving lucidity which is to know in depth the nature of truth. This is the good life, the life worth living: a life worthy of the children of God.
His intellectual acuity is paralleled by his aesthetic sensitivity. On August 31, 2011, he reminded us how the via pulchritudinis, the way of beauty, was a privileged path to connect our perception of beautiful things with the Creator. The interior of a Romanesque temple transmitted to him an impulse of recollection and a desire for prayer. In the Gothic edges he could see that verticality that transports us to heaven, and in the height of the cathedrals that paradoxical combination between our smallness and the longing for fullness. In both cases, the beauty in them was evident to him as an open door to the infinite, a way to open the mind and the heart to that supreme beauty that is God. And what to say of the music in which he experienced the eternal vibration of the strings of a heart in love.
For the Pope Emeritus, love for truth and beauty have always been the perfect ways to overcome the split between the human conscience and the Christian conscience. Beauty is the great need of the human being, and truth is the root from which the best of our lives springs. Hans Urs von Balthasar pointed out that beauty is the last word to which the reflective intellect can attain, for it is the halo of indelible radiance that surrounds the star of truth and goodness. Benedict XVI taught us thatauthentic beauty opens the human heart to nostalgia, to the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, towards the beyond. Beauty and truth reveal to us the meaning of life, they show us the evidence of the mystery of Love, they place before our gaze not only the immensity of the infinite, but above all the closeness of a God who never abandons us.
Beauty is one of the irrefutable proofs of God's existence, that is why beauty leads us to hope, because in God's heart nothing is lacking, everything is given to us. Benedict XVI has transmitted to us a firm and sincere bequest : truth and beauty are the fruit of God's love for us. This should encourage our spirit, sharpen our intelligence, and gladden our heart. For all of this, with all my soul,... thank you....