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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Thoughts about Beauty and Rage

On Real Beauty:

I was thinking about beauty today, especially beauty in the faces of the people I love. Most are not beautiful by the world's standards, for we are just average, every-day people. I considered how maybe the surface-attractiveness as defined by the world might at times draw us to people, none of us really recognizes it as a defining feature.  Rather, we look at the wrinkles, the laugh lines, the dimples, the surface imperfections that, together paint a tapestry.  When I think of my friends and loved ones, I remember them with animation. They are not cold photographs, but flesh and blood with quick smiles, ready expressions and identifiable mannerisms that draw me past the surface and into their real presence.

They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and I must disagree.  To simply "behold" is to remain at the surface. To enter into real friendship and to know someone as they are, no matter what they reveal on the surface is true beauty.

Beauty isn't revealed in the appearance of the skin covering mere bones, but in the life that animates us all, giving glory to God.

On Rage Against Beauty:

It occurred to me at Mass last night that there is a reason so many rage against the perfect beauty of the Mass, and seek to remove the symbolism and accoutrements that draw us deeply into the mystery.  The Mass is the fullness of life, it reveals the fullness of God if we would but pay attention, and it is both the source of summit of all things.  This is the very depths of beauty as God intended it. It far transcends our paisley-colored lives, the Naugahyde coverings we use to either adorn our imperfections or block out the light of Christ.

It is no surprise that so many rage against the Mass, for when it is properly celebrated it reveals the fullness of God, forcing us to recognize the emptiness of our souls when we come face-to-face with Him.  Those who cannot stand the revelation are enraged, and instead of realizing true beauty and perfection, they seek to destroy the mirror that reveals them to themselves.

As Gaudium et spes, 22, tells us, "God reveals man to himself, making his supreme calling clear."  When we are not living up to our supreme calling, it is much easier to seek to destroy and thus deny the revelation of Truth than it is to shed the vestiges of a false life and choose to embrace holiness.


Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Though I am not Catholic, I find parts of Mass beautiful as well. There is something about ritual that appeals to the human spirit and seems to bring us closer to the spiritual.

Conversely, there is something in us that indeed does rage against ritual and the feeling we are being "told" what to believe in.

I guess I see it from both sides.

Adoro said...

Katherine ~ I only have a moment so I can only give a short answer to your comment.

Where do you go in life where somehow you are NOT "told" what to believe in? We experience this as children, and maybe we don't understand that the sky is blue, and when we get older, why it is blue. But do we accept that explanation? What if the explanation is wrong? So maybe we investigate it, and become meterologists as we recognize Truth in that.

If you become, say, a Baptist, you are "told" what they believe, and that in order to be a member of their community, you must believe these things.

I never see anyone complaining about that in any religion but the Catholic Faith. Why is that?

What we believe defines who we are. We are not just "told" what to believe. We are provided with Divine Revelation and given the chance to accept or reject it in accordance with our free will.

If we reject it, we are rejecting the whole. We have that choice.

The reason I am not Muslim, or Buddhist, or Presbyterian is because I reject the tenants of their belief. They, too, are told what to believe. They have people who choose to believe those things and thus identify themselves as a part of that religion.

(Of course, we and the Presbyterians share a LOT in our beliefs, but clearly, we differ on some major points of theology!)

Do you see what I'm saying? So why do you lament people being "told" what to believe? The reality is that we all have an intellect and will, and maybe if we question a certain teaching, rather than dissent or leave, we are invited to ask questions, to investigate WHY the Church teaches as she does.

I had to do this myself when I returned to my faith. I had to learn why we must go to Confession, why the Church teaches against contraception, why the Church teaches against ordination for women, etc., and why moral teachings cannot be changed. I had to put time in, prayer, and yes, I also had to submit to teachings of knowledgeable people far wiser than I. Yet not without thinking for myself, which is often the charge.

So it was that through that process I came to recognize the reasonableness of my Faith, and I gave my assent of will and Faith, coming back to the fold with confidence and great love.

Not everyone has the need to investigate so deeply, for they simply choose to make their assent of faith. Yet, do not mistake them for mere "sheep". To do so would be a very, very grave error. (Not that you are doing any such thing!)

And I must run!

God bless!

Adoro said...

FYI - I am closing comments for the remainder of Advent.

Katherine, please feel free to email me about anything I said here as I am not doing this to "close off" a discussion but rather just to limit the "work" of blogging for the rest of Advent.

My email can be found on my profile.

God bless!