Subsidiarity in Art

Subsidiarity in Art:

the flow of celestial language

by Michael D. O’Brien


Subsidiarity is often confused with the word subsidiary, which is a partaking of some aspect of a higher authority, a “delegated authority,” as in the case of a business executive who permits an employee to exercise a task he does not have time to do himself.

While there can be elements of the subsidiary involved in subsidiarity, the latter is a much broader and deeper concept of the inter-relatedness of persons and actions in the human community. This important concept in Catholic social teaching has been articulated in Papal encyclicals such as Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno and John Paul II’s Centessiums Annus and other Church documents. For the sake of brevity, and leaving aside the facets and qualifiers that are inevitably associated with the subject, we might reduce the principle to this:

Subsidiarity is the principle which states that freedoms and their inherent responsibilities are best managed by the smallest competent authority at the level most appropriate to the nature of the persons involved. For example, the family, not the state, is the “first teacher” of the family’s children. Governments may assist the family if parents are unable to exercise their subsidiarity, but the state should do so only as a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or personal level. In other words, the government and its administrative organs, such as a department of Education, must serve the family, and not the other way around.

The Catholic understanding of the term is comprehensible only in the light of the whole truth about man. Man is a creature both temporal and eternal, of flesh and spirit. Our position in the cosmology God brought into existence is an exalted one, for in the hierarchy of creatures we are far above the animals and a little lower than the angels. We are situated so high because we are created in the image and likeness of God; our faculties are an intimate sharing in the life of the Giver. Moreover, we are redeemed by God himself who became one of us in Christ.

In his masterful essay On Fairy Stories, J.R.R. Tolkien coined the term “sub-creation” for the writer’s freedom to create imaginative worlds and universes, and emphasized the correlation between this human faculty and the image of God-the-Creator in us. He takes pains to note, however, that no matter how wildly imaginative the sub-created world may be, it must never depart from faithfulness to the moral order of the real universe. The fish might fly through the air and the birds swim in the depths of the sea, the sentient beings might have green skin and wings, but the imaginative universe must not violate the divinely ordained moral order. In other words, a writer’s subsidiarity will remain healthy to the degree that it is moral sub-creation. But this morality is God-given, not a subsidiary of any social or state pressures, not servile to the ever-unstable, imposed ethical systems of sociopolitical theorists. This is why “political art” almost always fails as art, because in the process of choosing servility the political artist abandons the more personal relationship of sonship of the Father and consequently blocks certain graces and inspirations which God wishes to bestow upon the creative imagination. In this regard one need only ponder the artistic and intellectual sterility of Marxist “Socialist Realism” and the propaganda art of Hitler’s Reich Kultur Chamber.

In less odious forms there can still be much confusion regarding the function of artists in society. Take for example the problem of commissioned art, and more specifically sacred art. Local parishes, dioceses, or religious institutions still from time to time commission a painter to create a work to “decorate” their walls, and it is common for them to appoint a committee to oversee its “production.” Depending on the maturity of committee members, the artist may find himself with carte blanche license to be as outrageously iconoclastic as he wishes, or alternatively find himself at the other end of the spectrum where every detail of the work is dictated, as if he is no more than an insensate brush in the hand of the committee. Clearly, from the Catholic point of view, neither of these approaches are acceptable, nor are they fruitful in artistic and spiritual terms. Neither do they exhibit an understanding of the artist’s subsidiarity.

How, then, to exercise a fully Catholic subsidiarity in such situations? First and foremost, the artist must recognize that he is responsible to God. He knows that committees do not produce works of art, yet he keeps in mind that committees are there (potentially, theoretically) to assist him. Above all, he must pray for inspiration, and if he is a wise artist he will be asking for the prayers of the committee and those of the community for which the art is being created. He must be willing to discuss themes, suggest various media for expressing them, and perhaps consider alternative stylistic aspects as well. At some point, however, after an ingathering of insight and reflection, the artist should be permitted to act according to what he has received and absorbed, and while not disregarding the needs of the community his primary attention will be from then on turned to the “still small voice” of the inspiration. He is neither a controlled machine nor a free-floating autonomous power. In a word he is a member of a community.

Ideally the community will understand that his “talents” are a unique gift, a kind of charism for the service of the Body that cannot be replaced by any other kind of charism. Put another way, the artist’s subsidiarity cannot be replaced by the collective opinions of committee members, no matter how well they have been formed in aesthetics. By the same token, if the artist hopes to serve Christ he must paint in the attitude of humility, and such humility cannot be imposed by exterior pressures; it can only be lived from within the artist’s soul. Likewise the commissioning body needs humility, if it would truly assist the artist in his work. Again I must underline that all parties need a sensitive balance that should never be a passivity to human taste and whims, but rather a constant striving for docility to the Holy Spirit.

Subsidiarity is crucial in other fields such as love and sexuality, where the theology of co-creation has been discussed with increasing depth of understanding, notably in John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” When a man and woman conceive a child together they are creating a new human life, an eternal soul. They are doing so not as bio-puppets or animal functionaries, but as knowing beings in harmony with natural law given by God and infused (in its most consecrated form of marriage) with grace. In this way God creates not only through his human creatures but also with them.

As with all human activity, spousal love is inseparable from accountability to God, a measuring of how well we use our gifts in union with the will of the Giver. Indeed all man’s choices in the flow of time are leading toward the eschaton, the Last Judgment when we will render accounts before the Lord regarding how well we have cared for his creation. Parents will render an account of how they have nurtured their children in all aspects of their humanity toward the salvation of their souls. The educator will render an account of how faithfully he has imparted truth to other people’s children entrusted to him. The artist will render an account of how well he has used his talents toward the creation of “words” that give life, that enrich the lives of other human beings toward the salvation of their souls

These faculties of human nature — to love, to reason, to create, and so forth — are not mere static possessions but are to be used by man in freedom integrated with responsibility, in a world that is both inexpressibly beautiful and fraught with perils, not least of which is the possibility of losing our identity, indeed of never reaching our eternal destination. They are to be used as God would have us use them, that is, for the restoration of creation to the divine order. In short, we live in neither a mechanistic universe nor a fully restored universe. It is a dynamic universe, in which we live and move and have our being in a state of impermanence and incompletion, yet bearing within ourselves glimmers of eternal glory. This is no promethean light stolen from the “gods” but an indestructible divine light given by the Father.

Creation, it goes without saying, is damaged, and the primary damage has been done to human nature itself, for we are the point through which Satan continues to strike at the Holy Trinity. God chooses to remain so vulnerable, and will continue to be so until the end of time. In this as in so many other of his attributes one can see the nature of his love. We are damaged but not destroyed, and even in our present condition we are beloved. Beloved to the point that in order to free us God entered into creation as a man and submitted himself to a shameful and agonizing death for our sake. From Christ’s submission to the Father came the Resurrection, and at the end of time this submission will bring about the final defeat of Satan and death itself, and the restoration of the entire creation to divine order.

Submission is not a popular word these days, for in common usage it has come to mean a negation of the self, denial of personal identity, and even oppression or forceful suppression. In fact, a true and wise submission is the only way to find oneself, to learn one’s identity and to live it fruitfully. The word derives from the Latin sub missio — within the mission. But how to find this sub-mission when human nature — even baptized human nature — remains so full of unruly contradictions and willfulness? A helpful first step is to admit a few certain truths about our present condition. Saint John of Damascus once wrote that when Adam fell, man lost the likeness of God but he did not lose the image of God. Only with Christ’s redemption does it become possible for us to be restored to the original unity of image and likeness. The theology of the Latin West, no less than that of the Christian East, was vitally concerned with the Imago Dei for more than a millennium, and only in the late Renaissance did this consciousness wane as the excitements of the new humanism gripped the artists and thinkers of the time (we shall leave aside here the subject of how this humanism affected Machiavellian princes, bankers, and merchant-barons). As the Christian humanism gave way through historical pressures to an increasingly autonomous humanism, the awareness of man’s complete identity declined, with the result that new aberrations manifested themselves in all spheres of human activity. Culture expressed it like a barometer.

Consider the fact that Boticelli’s “Madonnas” (sensual Venuses disguised and “legitimized” with Christian hieratics) were followed only a few short centuries later by chopped Picasso women, butchered by a painterly meat cleaver and reassembled according to the artist’s morbid curiosity or malice divorced from any sense of reverence for women. This is not Goya protesting the violation of man, it is the celebration of violation. And this in turn has given us the world of the absolutely anti-human, the feast of hell that one finds in the horror-sculptures of artists such as Mark Prent and the blasphemy constructions of artists such as Andreas Serrano. These are the sons of Nietzsche, each a creator-as-destroyer, a “wrecker of values” who considers himself to be accountable to no one. Such figures in the world of contemporary culture are numerous. Their works are symptoms of radical loss of any sense of who we are, often accompanied by the willful demolition of any manifestation of human dignity. It is informative that such art (which appears to be anti-rational) has arisen in a culture that is overwhelmingly dominated by rationalism, a rationalism that not only dissociates man from God but at the same time separates man from himself, fragmenting his inner life, convincing him that he is a bio-mechanism composed of separate parts such as mind/body/emotions, while denying the existence of that dimension of his being which is eternal. As one of the characters in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov points out, “If there is no God then everything is permissible!”

But if God does exist, then every good becomes possible. In his 1999 Letter to Artists Pope John Paul II wrote:


Human beings, in a certain sense, are unknown to themselves. Jesus Christ not only reveals God, but “fully reveals man to man”. (23) In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. All believers are called to bear witness to this; but it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed: the human person is redeemed, the human body is redeemed, and the whole creation which, according to Saint Paul, “awaits impatiently the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19), is redeemed. The creation awaits the revelation of the children of God also through art and in art. This is your task. Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.


In Love and Responsibility, (first published in Polish in 1960 and in English in 1981) Karol Wojtyla pointed out that the scientific rationalism of modern man has obscured the sacred order of creation, and this makes it difficult for us to understand the principles on which the moral order is based. He says that Natural Law has its origin in the divine will of God and cannot be tampered with without negative consequences. To alter the order of existence is a right that belongs only to the Lord himself. When Christ walked on the water, multiplied the loaves and fishes, and (most significantly of all) rose from the dead, he was exercising his divine right. The Apostles understood this and worshipped him. Only the Creator, who holds authority over all creation, can suspend the laws of creation. But even in his omnipotence God never violates the moral order of the universe. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus always acts with total responsibility.

So, too, when God gives creative powers to the artist, he does not do so in any simplistic subsidiary mode but rather in genuine subsidiarity — that is, he does not drop raw power into the artist’s hands and then abandon him to his own autonomous will. Neither does he treat the recipient as a tool or depersonalized appendage of himself. The receiver of the gift is a person in a community of persons, regardless of whether or not he knows it. The generosity of the Father is an act of faith on His part, an entrustment of power and authority into the hands of a creature who is by nature unreliable. At the same time, through the graces invoked by prayer and assisted by the wisdom of the Church and her traditions, the recipient can mature into responsible sonship. He is free to ignore all such aid or to humbly learn from it. He can use his gifts for good or for ill. He can even go so far as to employ them exclusively for the pursuit of pleasure, the most obvious example being the procreative gift of sexuality. But I am speaking here of the creative powers of art.

The kind of disordered pleasure that is to be had in creative life is closer to the spiritual than to the carnal, and as such it is more dangerous because it approaches the level of angelic pride (fallen angels, I mean). The social exaltation of the artist as a protean-being, as a kind of magus or superman, is widespread these days and thus the cultivation of such false images of the self and the basking in human adulation are easily accessible to any artist who knows how to shock and dazzle and delight—not in the sense of evoking wonder and reverence for mystery, but rather by provoking sensory thrills. If he chooses this path of pleasure he will find himself more and more bound in a prison of egoism that must be fed with ever-larger doses, if the illusion is to be sustained, leaving him emptier and emptier the more he feeds it. In this situation, love (which is the very source of creativity) becomes impossible, for the egoist seeks to serve himself only. As with disordered sexuality, the end result of treating other human beings as depersonalized objects for the service of his false persona is that the user himself becomes increasingly depersonalized—experiencing himself as an object.

By contrast, he will use his gifts fruitfully to the degree that he understands the Giver’s intention, and realizes that a crucial dimension of this intention is faithfulness to the moral order, which necessarily includes self-denial and self-giving (the true self) for the good of others. When this is lived well, though not without trial and error, his powers will be used in a co-creative way, human powers and divine grace interacting in a relationship of persons—God as Person and the individual artist as person within a community of human persons. The artist is not a petty god with absolute rights over his powers. He is a son of the Father, and if, like his Father, he would be a life-giver in turn, he will learn from him, will submit to divine authority and act in sub missio. It is only willful childishness or an impulsive adolescent mentality that misinterprets obedience as oppression. In truth, genuine submission is discipleship, not a negation of freedom but rather a path of discipline in the responsible use of freedom. In this way the receiver of the gift gradually matures, comes to know himself, and bears good fruit.

In order to better understand the underlying principles of responsibility in missio, it may be helpful to examine other fields of human activity. For example, like the artist, a scientist must also submit to a discipline, laboring diligently to increase his knowledge and refine his technique. All too frequently, however, an overwhelming focus on knowledge and technique obscures the larger context and purpose of the particular field of work. Scientists can study (and manipulate) human biology as if it were divorced from moral order, forgetting that the body is a revelation of the meaning of the human person, forgetting in the pursuit of “knowledge” that knowledge is not wisdom. Knowledge dissociated from moral sense precipitates immoral action: if a thing can be done then why should it not be done if more knowledge can be gained through it! By contrast, the light of wisdom reveals that sterilization, contraception, abortion, mutilation, fetal experimentation, and the proliferating fields of bio-engineering are acts of violence against humanity and insults to God.

Thus, the physician, for example, should not be merely a technician, a kind of mechanic tinkering in the motor of human flesh disassociated from its ultimate meaning. He must serve the patient with attention to the full significance of his being, as God intended it to be “from the beginning.” Similarly, if an artist paints the naked human figure, he must portray it in a way that contributes to our awareness of the whole truth about man––an example of which is Masaccio’s “The Expulsion From Paradise.” Though the subjects of this painting are naked, their bodies are not the primary focus. Rather the truth of their interior condition is revealed. While prudence demands that such scenes be depicted with a certain restraint, there is a place for them as long as the ultimate meaning and dignity of the human subjects is primary. To make of the body an end in itself is lust, which can be a form of idolatry.

In his collection of essays on aesthetics, Art and Scholasticism, (first published in 1935) Jacques Maritain examines the problem of the “rights of Art” and the “rights of Prudence”, and the tensions which can arise between the two. Such tensions are resolved only by understanding the larger context of God’s purposes in giving the powers of freedom and creativity to man. The independence of Art is a necessary part of natural law, he points out, but if it is not to degenerate into an instrument of corruption it must find its proper role within the divine order. It can never become an absolute unto itself; it should always strive to foster the final good of man—in other words, salvation. Maritain does not mean by this that Christian art should be simplistic morality plays, but he does assert that all good art, be it explicitly religious or implicitly religious, must be a search for truth and beauty. Moreover, the artist, as he creates, must be ever-attentive to both the good of his subject and the good of his “audience.” In a word, he is responsible.

The context I refer to above is, of course, the divinely appointed moral order in creation. But it should be added here that fidelity to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Church needs integration with spiritual gifts, because merely avoiding evil in a strictly legalistic way is insufficient for a fruitful life. In order to bring good to other souls and to assist in the restoration of the world to Christ, the artist, no less than any other person, needs spiritual discernment, wisdom, and prudence.

In his 1952 Mellon lectures, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, (published in 1953, Princeton University Press), Maritain reflects on the philosophical foundations of the creative process, and in a section examining types of poetry he probes certain aberrations that peculiarly afflict the modern age. Be it high or low culture, he warns, the dangers of self-deception are not inconsiderable for the artist, and especially so in a century that would confuse us more than ever with its individualism and proliferating ideologies. The real challenge for the poet, he says, is to distinguish between his tendencies to genuine creative intuition and the impulses of the self-centered ego.

The artist who sees himself as a hero or a prophet, or a high priest of the socio-political forces to which he is loyal, which he believes are the historical necessities of his times, risks becoming a puppet. Whether he submits to these forces or wrestles with them publicly, he all too easily becomes a parody of himself, and then without knowing it submits his gifts to the demons of his era. Because he has no external (and eternal) measure with which to assess reality and because he has lost his place in the continuity of time, he becomes dependent on social affirmation and the drug of exalted feelings common to all revolutionaries. And in the end, if he does not free himself from these chimeras, he will destroy even as he thinks he creates. He will become a slave when he thinks himself most free.

Lest I become too unkind to contemporary artists, most of whom do not understand who they are nor why they possess their talents, indeed do not even perceive them as gifts from above, I should say that hidden within their desire for exultation (and exaltation) is a damaged longing for the transcendent. This we must never forget, for it is a remnant of something genuine and very beautiful in human nature, and this longing can yet be redirected and nurtured, despite the odds against it.

But where shall the artist find the timeless path of wisdom in his society, the world all around him that presents itself to his consciousness as normal, be it Machiavellian, Nietzschian, Hegelian determinist, Deconstructionist, or simply post-Modernist? As a first step he might ask himself where he is situated on the existential/historical map.

In an article in the journal Lumen Vitae the historian Christopher Dawson writes:


But if the combined influence of Renaissance and Reformation made for a wider diffusion of literary culture and the intellectualizing of religious education, it also tended to increase the practical and utilitarian elements of culture. Both the Byzantine East and the mediaeval West had shared the same ideal of contemplation and spiritual vision as the supreme end and justification of all human culture: an ideal which finds classical expression in St. Thomas and Dante. But from the 15th century onwards culture and education became increasingly concerned with the claims of the active life . . . this in turn led to the cultivation of the economic virtues of thrift and industry and to the acquisition of “useful knowledge” as the main end of education. There can be no doubt that secular utilitarianism was the direct product and heir of the religious utilitarianism that developed on the soil of Protestant and specifically Puritan culture.

(“Education and the Crisis of Christian Culture,” Lumen Vitae, Vol. 1., No. 2, April-June, 1946, Brussels, pages 210-212; Adapted and developed in Dawson’s Understanding Europe, Part II, Chapter XIII, 1952.)


We cannot deny what was great in the Renaissance, nor can we ignore the fact that the post-Renaissance world needed a spiritual revival. But neither can we escape the subsequent suffering these periods imposed on us. Humanism split off from the Catholic sense of the Imago Dei has not given us progress in any deep abiding sense. It has given us the development of technique. It has given us the triumph of subjectivism within a shell of rationalism. This in turn gave us despiritualization, and despiritualization has given us dehumanization, and dehumanization is now showing every sign of working out its terrible logic: in the end, unless there is a return to our true identity, the world will further degenerate into the purely diabolic, which means the annihilation of man.

Art has always asked the question: What is man? Who is he? Where is he going? These questions did not cease to be asked after the Renaissance. Neither did they fade from the picture after that second great blow, the “Reformation.” Yet from that point onward the split in consciousness widened and began to work out in praxis the consequences of its disordered theology—and thus its disordered anthropology.

As inheritor of these historical fragmentations, the contemporary artist suffers in all aspects of his being. Of the two obstacles facing him, the exterior and the interior, it is difficult to say which is the more formidable, but I am inclined to think it is the interior. Practically all artists now suffer from what T.S. Eliot called, in an essay on the Metaphysical Poets, “the dissociation of sensibility.” Unification of thought and feeling becomes more difficult to the degree that the artist is an atomized individual, adrift in time, grabbing at sense and sentiment as if to anchor himself in a weightless cosmos. In his famous essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Eliot suggests that the remedy is to be found where it has always been found, by obtaining “by great labor” a sense of tradition. The historical sense, he says, is a perception “not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.” … “This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as the temporal and of the timeless and the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.” Eliot makes the distinction between a vital sense of tradition and traditionalism, which fixates on certain periods of artistic “success” and will not budge from them. Eliot writes:


What is to be insisted upon is that the poet must develop or procure the consciousness of the past and that he should continue to develop this consciousness throughout his career.

What happens is a continual surrender of himself, as he is at the moment, to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.

(“Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Selected Essays by T.S. Eliot, 1932, Harcourt Brace & Co.)


Eliot does not mean by extinction of personality a negating of personhood, nor does he mean self-annihilation or, alternatively, any submission to the dehumanizing forces of modern civilization. I believe he means by this a turning away from all that feeds the false self –– egocentricity, the autonomous self, the cult of artist-as-personality. He is pointing to the tradition of the Byzantine icon painter and the Gothic sculptor, of Goya and El Greco and Rouault, who believed they were finding themselves as they “lost” themselves in Christ, content to be at play in the fields of the Lord, in an ordered, creative universe suffused with grace.

The unification of feeling and form, intellect and imagination, spirit and talent, love and truth, past and present, Logos and man-made words, can only be rediscovered to the degree than we surrender to grace. “Tout est grâce! Everything is grace,” wrote Georges Bernanos in the final lines of his novel Diary of a Country Priest. Grace is everywhere. Sanctifying grace. Actual grace. Extraordinary grace. Grace in torrents. And we need only ask for it—humbly, in sub missio.

While it is true that the artist who does not have faith is yet capable of wholesome creativity, just as he is capable of rational thought or of love, the fullest dimensions of creativity, reason, and love will remain underdeveloped and out of focus for him. He is never deprived of the natural law within his nature — the Imago Dei — but lacking a right vision of the genuine cosmology (ranging from the meaning of his own personhood to the proportion/relationship of all created things) he will not create with the full power of his faculties. If he continues to seek truth, strives to love honestly, respects man and nature, he will be able to make works of art that are beautiful and true on some level. Yet he will fail to realize his full potential, and while his work may contribute to the general good of mankind, it will not bear all the fruit that might have been given to others through him.

The artist’s vocation is a daunting challenge at any time of history, but it is made even more difficult in an era that endlessly distorts its purpose, either by mythologizing him on one hand as a guru, prophet, seer, hero or anti-hero, or on the other hand by reducing him to a commercial mechanism—a culture-factory disgorging a marketable commodity. In these distorted views of the artist’s role, both freedom and responsibility are corrupted where they are not denied altogether. The Church maintains that in every act of freedom, whether it is in the realm of creativity, marital love, scientific research, fashion design, et cetera, there must be a parallel responsibility, responsibility to the whole truth about man. In all the fields of human endeavor, we must reverence human dignity, that of others as well as our own.

For example, a scientist who would destroy a child for research purposes, arguing that his increased knowledge will benefit other children, has in effect devalued all children. A young woman who wears provocative clothing created by a genius fashion-designer in order to capture the eyes of young men — either deliberately or unwittingly provoking them to lust — insults the very men she hopes to attract and insults her own personhood as well, for she is declaring in the cultural language of clothing that she is an object to be desired, chased, and consumed. A filmmaker who glamorizes violence or graphically portrays the conjugal act in the name of “realism” damages the broader context of the Real by undermining the moral foundations on which truth is built. When the Church critiques such activities, she is not for a moment being unscientific or prudish or anti-culture, for she is ultimately concerned with freeing us to know ourselves as we truly are, and to value ourselves by a measure that is the highest, most comprehensive, and most eternal. She also protects us from those theorists who wish to recreate man in their own images––the perennial temptation of those who have knowledge and power—“You shall be as God.”

In the end it comes down to this: We choose. We can attempt to be autonomous petty gods and thus, without knowing it, contribute to the degeneration of civilization; or we can accept to be sons of the Father, exercising our gifts with responsible subsidiarity, and thus contribute to the restoration of a truly human civilization.

The human person is a wondrous, phenomenal being created by the Father, each and every human being a unique logos, a “word” who is involved, knowingly or unknowingly, in a dia-logos between Creator and beloved creature, and consequently between the creature and all his fellow creatures—who are sons and daughters of the same Father. All communication, therefore, carries with it a great responsibility—and potential sublimity. Jesus tells us that we will be judged on every word we have spoken. In this, he is revealing to us the deeper dimensions of language itself, in its myriad rational and supra-rational forms. All “speaking”, including the immensely powerful cultural languages of the arts, has consequence. Words are not neutral data-transfer agents in an existential meta-machine. They are the flow of a celestial language that guides us either toward eternal death or to the eternal communion of love in Paradise.


+  +  +