Want to do some Catholic reading for the summer? Elizabeth’s Lev’s book, “How Catholic Art Saved the Faith; the Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art” may the just the ticket for you. Do you ever wonder why the Church invests so much of herself in art for the masses (or Masses I suppose.) This book will give you a clearer insight as well as beautifully enticing you into paintings to understand what they are doing, a skill that will go a long way in helping you understand and judge liturgical art in general.
Best of all, while dealing with topics that many experts like to make as complicated and exclusive as possible, Lev makes accessible and exciting. She does not give credence to tedious concepts of art or try to dazzle the reader with her great and lofty learning. Rather, she invites you in to enjoy the wonder and awe of the art which is supposed to be the point of liturgical art to begin with.
She does for art what Dr. Scott Hahn does for theology.
Best of all, the chapters and descriptions, while lush and full, are divided up into short and easy to digest chapters. Do you only want to read for 5 minutes? Done! Want to read for an hour? Perfect! Beware though if you have any love of art and faith. I would think that I only want to read for 5 minutes and then start stealing time from other things in order to read more.
This book is the beginning of a cure for what ails the Church today when it comes to art. I would make it mandatory reading for anybody responsible for the commissioning of art for a parish. It gives insight to the artists and patrons who respected what was handed on from the past and what was completely innovative for its day (which now seems so much a part of our standard bag of tools for liturgical art) and inspires us to have that same responsibility and innovation - the mix of order and chaos - that inspired the people of the Counter-Reformation.