Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Desiring Beauty

Yoga class includes meditation for those seeking inner peace, but
how can the soul be peaceful if it does not have beauty and God?
Beauty inspires the senses to God, encourages transcendence and so is an opening for grace.  For the contemplative man, beauty is a little vision of Heaven on earth.

Grace is a spiritual gift of God.  Sanctifying grace is given to Catholics who receive the Sacraments.  It envelops our minds and souls to desire God.  Actual grace gives Divine assistance to our actions.  When we accept grace we are able to work directly with God.  We are able to see, appreciate and even create beauty.

Beauty, as St. Thomas says, is objective and has four attributes: truth, goodness, oneness and symmetry.  Beauty, when comprised of these qualities, directs us to God.

In clothing for example: there is an athletic trend that directs us away from beauty.  Some wear sweat suits, T-shirts, leggings, sneakers, headbands, etc.  What does this clothing express?  It is a love for fitness, comfort, casualness, earthiness, sensuality, essentially a love for the physical and temporal world.  This is purely functional.  As the architect Louis Sullivan described modernist style, "Form follows function".

But what is the style of Christian civilization?

Beautiful clothing encourages us to contemplate God
in the beauty and order of the universe.
Painting by Frank Weston Benson
The style at the heights of Christian civilization is undeniably beautiful and uplifting to the spirit.  It directs the soul to God rather then confining it to superficial worldly indulgence.  Beautiful clothing encourages us to contemplate God in the beauty and order of the universe.  It represent the supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.  These virtues combined with the desire in our souls to do good and avoid evil, govern Christian society and also form the basis of beautiful design.  Beauty is literally graceful because it comes into our lives through the infusion of Supernatural virtue. 

Truth can be seen in clothing that identifies the wearer as a man or woman, his status and occupation, even his character and family.  Goodness is in the quality materials, and fine workmanship and in the modesty that respects the natural virtues.  Oneness is in the completeness of the ensemble and the way it matches in an ordered way.  Symmetry is the proportion, consistency and uniformity that comprise it.

This can be applied to everything: music and architecture, furnishings in the home, work and crafts, words and manners, meals and dinner tables, beautiful prayers and good reading.  Local traditions sustain cultural beauty in holidays, ceremonies and ways of being that began long ago when people turned to God and received a flow of grace to generations.  This realization makes us love and keep alive tradition.  Beauty is expressed in many cultures and is diverse since God's creation is immense.  However, beauty cannot go against the natural order.

It would be very good then to visit the exquisitely beautiful Cathedrals and Churches, castles and mansions in Europe or America to teach our souls to appreciate the presence of God in the Western world.  The stories of places like Mont St. Michel in France truly allow us to see a little vision of Heaven.

Beauty lifts the spirit above what is purely functional to the realm of spiritual satisfaction in our quest for the Supernatural.  How can we not constantly marvel at and reach for the heights of beauty to fill up our minds and souls with the contemplation of God?

Read my favorite article on modesty and dress HERE.

1 comment:

  1. While there is a time and place for athletic clothes, I agree that they should be limited to an athletic situation (and definitely less form fitting).

    Farm Lassie


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