Every sacrament of the Church involves encounter with the things of heaven, bringing aesthetic knowledge of things outside of the natural realm through earthly matter, leading to the concept of “sacramental aesthetics.” This course investigates the theological concept of Beauty in the classical realist tradition, defining beauty as the revelation of the nature of things as understood in the mind of God, which in turn leads to investigation of the Truth of things. Dr. McNamara will explain beauty as it is understood in the West, influenced by Thomas Aquinas, and as in the East in the tradition of iconography. Then all will be tied together in understanding the nature of the Sacred Liturgy as a beautiful revelation of God’s own self to His creatures.
Dr. Denis McNamara is an Associate Professor and the Executive Director of the Center for Beauty and Culture at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He is the former Academic Director of the Liturgical Institute. He holds a BA in the History of Art from Yale University and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, where he concentrated his research on the study of ecclesiastical architecture with Richard Guy Wilson and Carroll William Westfall.
Dr. McNamara makes a specialty of bridging the gap between the Church’s great artistic tradition and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He has also done groundbreaking research on scriptural understandings of architecture and the sacramental meaning of the classical architectural tradition.
He is the author of Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago, Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy, and How to Read Churches: A Crash Course In Ecclesiastical Architecture which was published in eight languages.
An experienced singer, Dr. McNamara has been a member of numerous large and small vocal ensembles for over three decades. He has led training classes in liturgical singing and teaches the Liturgical Institute’s course on the documents of sacred music.