I posted before on my reactions to Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, which I believe could only be written by a person immersed in Catholicism throughout her life (even if at the time she found herself at odds with her faith).
Now closer to the Church, Rice discusses her memoirs Called out of Darkness and the influence her faith has had on her life and writings:
Rice's experience of beauty is a great illustration of the need for beautiful artwork in our places of worship. She was affected by it even before she could read! A good picture (or a statue, for that matter) really can be worth a thousand or more words. Art is a form of catechesis that is accessible to everyone.
Through this she picked up on the richness of Catholicism, which she would come to apprecciate more fully later in life.
Beauty and pain are strangely (and perhaps wonderfully) united in Catholic art and Catholic theology. There is perhaps no better example of this than in the cross itself, an image which Rice mentions in this interview.
Sacrifice is beautiful, though it may include suffering. The incarnation is beautiful. The Resurrection is beautiful, but the beauty of the Resurrection would be incomplete without the torturous sacrifice that came before it.
J.R.R Tolkien put it quite well:
The Gospels...contain many marvels--peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: "mythical" in their perfect, self-contained significance, and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered history and the primary world... The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. .... There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. for the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary art, that is, of Creation. ...
Though human artistry could never perfectly depict divine beauty, skilled artisans can still come close enough to leave a profound impression.
Tip of the Ruler to: Alan