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The Role of Beauty PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 January 2007 06:25

Written by Keith Strohm

A while back, at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping blog, Andrew began an intriguing post with the following sentence:

I submit to you that beauty is really the source of authority
Reading this started me down a path of reflection about the role of beauty in the New Evangelization.

As we embrace our call to live as apostles of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, to what degree do we reflect the beauty of life in Jesus Christ. Not that we each have to look like we came off the cover of a magazine, or that our lives have to have a measure of studied perfection, like a Norman Rockwell picture--that would be beauty as the world sees it, transient and passing. Rather, in the storms and trials of life, as well as in its better moments, how clearly can our neighbors, our pharmacists, our childrens' school teachers, or even the strangers that we meet, see the loving heart of Jesus Christ in our life.?

It is beauty, ultimately, that sways the human heart. Intellectual explanations and reasoned approaches to the Revelation of God merely utilize human gifts to apprehend the beauty and the glory of the God who has pursued us before we were born. Beauty, therefore, moves us to conversion with the sublimity and power of its very nature.

But how can we, between our struggle to make mortgage payments, change the oil on the family car, wrestle children into clothes appropriate to school, get to work on time for that big presentation--how can we even think about being beautiful (as in the beauty of holiness) in the midst of the chaos of our lives?


It is grace that gradually perfects us, building upon our human nature so that we might become more like the One Who Is Beauty. It is grace that transforms the human heart, polishing its rough contours until it reflects the Sacred Heart of Christ Himself everywhere we journey. It is grace, therefore, that allows us to become Beautiful, so that others might encounter the Living Christ in everything that we do.

Our role is to dispose ourselves to that grace--to open ourselves to Beauty, even in the midst of ugliness and horror, or the numbing, relentless sense of blandness that can often afflict our lives. In doing so, we echo the insightful words of the Romantic poet John Keats in his poem, Ode On A Grecian Urn, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."

The difference here is that Beauty is not a concept, but a Person.

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