Innocence is the awe with which a child will look at something that is truly beautiful. Innocence is the perfect appreciation of beauty. Innocence is only possible in those who possess a pure and unsullied soul. Innocence is rare.
Yes; it is rare to see someone who still has this important virtue as an adult. But even worse, it is rare to see children who still have innocence at three or four years old!
The loss of innocence is definitely related to our society, the lack of knowledge of God, and the lack of ability to marvel at beauty. In times past children were taught to marvel at the beauty of God's creation and the beautiful things that men built. Today we lack this virtue, the ability to be inspired by beauty and to attempt to recreate the good things that we see.
Whether it is a floral bouquet, a Church, a book, or a hat, all things must be created in an objectively beautiful way; the way that God intended them to be. To determine if something is beautiful, four attributes must be present, according to St. Thomas Aquinas:
This does not mean that beautiful things are alike. There is great diversity in the type of beauty that is present in different things. For example, a sunflower, house, picture, and dog may all possess the qualities of beauty but in no way look or act similar. A child, however, will marvel at the uniqueness of each and meditate on their meanings.
Innocence seeks beauty. It could maybe even be said that it feeds upon it. This is why in our sterile society- where beautiful things are few and far between- innocence is rare.
We need to have innocence. We must be able to appreciate the intense rightness of each person, place and thing when it aligns itself with the unique duty, function, or position God made it to be. Children are born with this ability. To preserve it, encourage your children to marvel and analyze.
Here's a great article about what is happening to modern children and what to do about it: