The concern for the beauty of God’s house and the concern for the poor of God cannot be separated. Man is in need not only of what is useful but also of what is beautiful; he needs not only his own house but also the presence of God and the signs of his presence. Wherever he is glorified, there our heart rejoices also. All of us have nowadays become somewhat puritanical: Should we not have given all these treasures to the poor?
We overlook, in so asking, that beauty given over to the Lord is the only true common property of everybody. What a difference there is between a residence and a church, between a museum and a cathedral! What a difference there is between laboring through the art museums of the Louvre, the Uffici, or the British Museum and prayerfully participating in the song of praise rising from the very stones in a living church! The beauty offered the Child of Bethlehem is dedicated to all, and we need it like daily bread.
Those who would rob a child of beauty to make something useful out of it do not support but destroy; they take away the light, without which all our calculations turn cold and trivial. Of course, if we truly join the pilgrimage of the centuries, which was anxious to lavish the most beautiful things of this world on the newborn King, then we must never forget that he still lives in a stable, in a prison, in the favelas [South American slums], and that we do not praise him should we refuse to find him there. Yet such an awareness will not enslave us under the tyranny of usefulness, where joy becomes a stranger and somber seriousness a dogma.
From: Gottes Angesich suchen, p.12