(Originally posted at Ignitum Today)
Lent is a time I think to reflect on beauty.
True beauty is something that uplifts the soul. It draws us to God.
As Pope Benedict XVI once said about art,
“The work of art is the fruit of human creativity, which questions the visible reality, trying to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of shapes, colors, sounds. (It) is an open door on the infinite (which) opens the eyes of the mind, of the heart. One example of this is when we visit a Gothic cathedral; we are enraptured by the vertical lines that shoot up towards the sky and draw our eyes and our spirits upwards, while at the same time, we feel small, and yet eager for fullness … Or when we enter a Romanesque church: we are spontaneously invited to recollection and prayer. We feel as if the faith of generations were enclosed in these splendid buildings. Or, when we hear a piece of sacred music that vibrates the strings of our heart, our soul expands and helped to turn to God. A concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, in Munich, directed by Leonard Bernstein, again comes to my mind. After the last piece of music, one of the Cantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed something of the faith of the great composer to me and pressed me to praise and thank the Lord “.
Like photoshopped images that entice us to be more like them, an impossibly attainable beauty that doesn’t truly exist. That bring dissatisifaction and distraction from God rather than a desire for Him. The beauty of shopping and beautiful clothes that can never really satisfy. The lure of pornography.
We were made for more than this.
“God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” – St Augustine
True beauty for me is found (in no particular order) in:
- Wisdom, prayerful thoughts from past and present saints
- Words, like from a good novel or a great article that make you see the beauty in life, and phrase things in a way you had never thought of before.
- Mass, the chance to “meet heaven”, to praise God and to be in the presence and recieve Christ himself.
- Children, little miracles who came from nothing to their mothers wombs, to be born and bring their small features and little wisdoms and their love of life.
- Music, that uplifts, praises and reflects on love and life and the beauty in it.
- Witnesses, those who live their lives well, who try to follow Christ in all they do, no matter how challenging it is. As St Josemaria Escriva says, they let their life “read the life of Jesus Christ”.
- Images, like those posted here , that draw you in and make you take a moment to reflect and pray.
As Pope Benedict XVI said recently after his final retreat, “In this certainty let us go forward, confident in the victory of God, sure of the truth, of beauty, and of love.”
What do you find beauty in? What uplifts your soul?