Father Richard John Neuhaus of the First Things blog is up to it (June 28):
In discussing R.A. Scotti’s new book, Basilica, the other day, I mentioned reasons for my ambivalence about Baroque art. Philip Bess, a Chicago architect of catholic and Catholic tastes, countered with this appreciation from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI:
Baroque art, which follows the Renaissance, has many different aspects and modes of expression. In its best form it is based on the reform of the Church set in motion by the Council of Trent. In line with the tradition of the West, the Council again emphasized the didactic and pedagogical character of art, but, as a fresh start toward interior renewal, it led once more to a new kind of seeing that comes from and returns within. The altarpiece is like a window through which the world of God comes out to us. The curtain of temporality is raised, and we are allowed a glimpse into the inner life of the world of God. This art is intended to insert us into the liturgy of heaven. Again and again, we experience a Baroque church as a unique kind of fortissimo of joy, an Alleluia in visual form.
[Father Neuhaus] The Holy Father has been living with the Baroque much longer than I have, and I do not doubt that he has also given the matter more thought. So I will only confess my underdeveloped appreciation by saying that I prefer glimpses into the inner life of the world of God that leave more room for the imagination.