Beauty is the Radiance of Truth

Graduale Aboense, hymn book of Turku, Finland....

Has the Church of the late 20th and early 21st century forgotten the importance of beauty for the soul’s search for truth and her longing for God? We continuously hear from the elite that music and art play no real significance in the Church or Her liturgies. But I wonder if that is so. In a previous article I wrote about the aspects of the Divine Love which let us recognize His Presence hidden among us: for instance, in Truth, Light, Goodness and Beauty. If one cannot see Christ’s connection in life to beauty then such a man displays a withered soul in need of the Eternally Beautiful that it might stimulate him.

Our art and our music are significant in that they can, when inspired, move our souls to the peace, love and tranquility that are but reflections of the One who gives the soul her true rest. Have we modern men forgotten how to love, how to expand our souls, how to be transported to another world by these mediums? Are we no longer humans, with a longing for beauty? If so, I am afraid that we have lost our sense of holiness just as we moderns have lost our sense of sin.

It would seem that this may be so if we were to walk into a modernistic church designed in the minimalist motif or listen to the modern hymns that transport the soul not to God but to an auditorium full of children gathered for a sing-a-long. Our hearts and souls contract when confronted with the inexpressive lines of minimalism. It shouts that there is nothing to say, nothing to long for, nothing to aspire to; it is just utilitarian in form and design and that is all that life can offer. In contrast to a gothic church, we do not see the hope for something timeless and eternal but instead see what is stark and sterile.

The same can of course be said of music which contracts our souls and sets our hearts square on the world. It was the other worldliness of Gregorian chant that once moved man’s heart, mind and soul to places it had never dreamed of going. It was a glance into the heavens and it expanded the souls of those who would listen to be transported as it were into a heavenly world full of angels, awe and mysteries of unspoken beauty. Our hearts ache for beauty as the human heart has always done. I do not believe, nor will I ever believe that the human heart and soul has lost its relish for beauty, goodness and love: we long for it and thirst for it as a foretaste of the All Good, the All Beautiful, the All Loving God of our dreams. It is a means through which we glimpse God Himself.

These external and superfluous additions to liturgy are not therefore pointless and they do not take our mind off of the mysteries and the incomprehensible goodness of the sacraments. Instead they draw one closer and expand our hearts to better receive Him, our God, our Love and the All Beautiful Christ into our longing souls who wait with awe and who thirst for His Holiness. For holiness consists, in part of unspoiled beauty, unspoiled goodness, unspoiled truth and unspoiled love.

When man no longer recognizes beauty he will no longer recognize God. I cannot for a minute think that man’s innate love for beauty was place within our hearts and souls for no reason. I do not find it of little value and little worth as we seek our Divine End for which we were made.

Living In the Presence of God

prayer..

It is our task in life to live in the presence of God continuously; “to pray without ceasing.” It is impossible for man but nothing is impossible for God. So we may think we are incapable but as we have already discussed everything is possible with Christ.

About 3 posts ago I wrote a post that nobody seemed to understand. It didn’t strike me until the comments all had a similar ring to them that belied the intended message I wished to convey. I finally had to give the commenter, Jay, an explanation of what the blog was intended to be and so I apologize: it’s not the reader, it’s the fault of the author when things are not understood.

The post was titled, Failure to Commit, and my explanation could be paraphrased as follows:

 My point of reference was myself, as I am the only one I can speak for with any certitude; and as the author I was afraid that if done poorly, it could sound as if I were pointing a finger at my readers.  It was written solely for the purpose of showing the reader that we all need God’s grace to accomplish anything: that even simple prayers for an increase in faith, hope and love, may one day help us in this task of making and keeping important commitments. I’m no saint and recognize that most people fall short as well; but that does not mean that any of us have lost the opportunity as long as God continues to hold us in existence upon this earth. I was just trying to get across our real need for increased grace and that I too must be realistic about my own failures. Our failures show a weakness; and the weakness usually resides in our own individual will. Only love can motivate the will sufficiently to make the hardest commitment of all: dying to self. Without this truth indelibly infused into our minds there is no hope of dropping the pose for the true inner experience that we desire. The death of our ego, which we should seek, must begin within us so that God can be allowed to live His life within our souls. He will not accept competition in this regard. Only a very strong love and desire to die to self and to be reborn in Him will allow this to happen. And we will all fail; over and over again. That is why our prayers for each other are so necessary and beneficial for our advancement. My final analysis was that successful commitments need a strong love and a strong sense of sacrifice. In short, sacrificial love.

 It is important to get this straightened out at the outset of this post should you have read the last three entries.

So we acknowledge that we need to develop sacrificial love in our hearts, agape love, the type that Christ had for us. As Christ perfects our souls in love through many trials, we continue to work on our virtues and our prayers, failing often but setting out again with the knowledge that Christ is teaching the soul and perfecting our love.

This action of repeatedly traversing from consolations to desolations and back again, occur both in our prayers and in our everyday living. This cycle brings us to a point where we begin to see God in all aspects of our lives. He is there in the joyous moments and even more present when our souls are suffering great torment. It is in this well-spring of spiritual life that God’s presence becomes the living water and an abiding presence that never leaves us.

Only then can our will gain the loving resolve to accept God’s will in all things. We are ready, finally, to surrender ourselves to Divine Providence. A complete abandonment of our self-serving will: I am yours, O Lord, do with me what you will.