Hilaire Belloc addressed this question in a 1924 letter to Mrs. Raymond Asquith. I found this in Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' most excellent journal, First Things.
I realize that I have been quoting a lot of dead, white European men lately. My apologies... but this was too good not to pass on.
"Is not this what always has been?
Am I not here in converse
with That which heard the words
and saw the gestures and was startled by the cry of death
and stupified by the resurrection?
It is that answer which is the core of the affair;
and there is only one answer.
There is only one voice on Earth
which speaks in the tone of 1st century and the 13th,
and of the men who had gooseflesh at Emmaus,
and of the men and women who have the later visions
down to the last, and the many who are to come.
It is the-Church-as-it-is which commands attention,
convinces, and receives assent.
S0, in a long devotion one looks with a smile or a little fear
at the portrait thirty years old.
But the object received and loved is that of today,
and therefore of forever;
and of the past, all of it,
and of the time to come.
For my part I rejoice at new things.
They are to me the proof of life;
and the sudden burst of devotion
to the Mother of God 400 years after,
the special exaltation of the Eucharist
in such a rite as Benediction- not 400 years old:
these and the lesser things are part of a living thing in which I live:
not a document or a mere record.
And that living thing is not of man.
It is for man from that by which man is
and by which we have our knowledge of any and all beauty."