Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beauty and God

Today's Gospel tells us of Jesus' transfiguration. It is hope in the midst of Lent; a glimpse of the Divine in the midst of trials. Anyone who has had such a direct experience of God will never forget it. Mostly, though, we must experience God through more earthly means: the Scriptures, each other, breaking our own boundaries of fear to reach out to others.

An often overlooked means that God has given us to experience Himself is through beauty. Experiencing nature as a "calling card" from God is something that transcends denominational and religious affiliation, yet, is in danger of disappearing as more and more of us spend more and more time in front of computers and televisions. Too, during the sometimes bleak months of winter (February, somehow being the worst of them) it is easy to hibernate and begin to feel that Spring, and Resurrection will never come. It is why, I think, that God gave us the seasons-- to experience all around us, what is going on inside of us. As we allow our fallen natures to take over, we experience a kind of death. We realize that on our own, we are failing; we have failed. As we reach out to God in our helplessness, the first, tiny flowers of spring are seen blooming in the otherwise dead landscape. It gives us hope.

Man participates in creation

As human beings, God has given us the physical senses as a way to experience Himself. As human beings, we long to connect with our Creator and to express our desire and love for Him. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain, they experienced, for a moment, the Transfigured Christ. They saw Jesus as He really is and received a foretaste of heaven.

In our imperfect humanness, we long to recreate this experience, not only for ourselves, but to show mankind the beauty of communion with our God. We do this by spiritual expression in art. For centuries, Christians, and especially Catholics, have expressed God and His Love through various artistic means. The height of the visual arts, and of music, it can be argued, has been achieved through this Christian longing. Taking Christ out of the culture has yielded mainly an anarchy of the senses and resulted in nonsensical "art."

Far from being a distraction, art, music and other physical expressions of worship, such as incense, can lift our hearts and minds up to the Lord, show our love for Him and illustrate scriptural truths to the world.

The contemporary liturgical and art renewal movements show that this physical expression of Truth is hardly dead. As much good as can be gleaned from our Protestant brethren, iconoclasm and the permanent stripping of our altars is not something to imitate. A spiritual world devoid of artistic beauty is one which comes perilously close to being devoid of God.


Marilena said...

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1060Bug said...

Artistic expression is a response to things we WISH we could experience, or as a rebellion against difficult living conditions or adverse political climes. I believe this expression increases as conditions worsten in the artists world. This creation is often a bleak and sometimes clandestine process, that when finally shown, can either lead to accolades, or reprisal for the artist..Fatih through art (or music) is not an easy journey!!

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

True. WE wish we could directly experience God and not "through a glass, darkly." Since we cannot (on this earth) we express our longing through art and music.

TACParent said...

I love the tree picture. Whenever I see beams of sun poking through a cloud or trees I always tell my kids, "That's God saying hello!"

Btw, this is LifeisgreatTAC (in case you couldn't figure it out). It wouldn't let me post that way ... who know why?????

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Thanks for the post! I thought of you as I was writing the part about nature. That picture does tend to say it all, doesn't it? When I was a kid, I always thought, when I saw rays of sunshine like that, that someone was going to heaven.

318@NICE said...

I just wanted to thank you for your blog.
Mental illness is for real, and I believe many times due to demons.
My older brother killed himself a few years ago.
He left the Church in highschool and became a drug addict. My parents put him in rehab many times. But he then fell into deep depression. My parents took him to different doctors who had him on medication, but he got so tired of the medication.
Then came the serious problem. He quit taking his medication and then for the next three years holed himself up in a small room in his apartment, just watching all kinds of movies. He didn't speak to any of his family members. We tried coming over to see him, especially my mother, but no one ever saw him.
I saw him one night during that time and only for five minutes.
I live in North Carolina and he lived in Michigan. So he opened the door, but would not let me in. He just said hi and said he was tired and he had to go back to sleep.
That was the last I saw of him.
a year later my little brother phoned me and said that my older brother killed himself. He went to go see a movie and then killed himself.
It was only after me and my brother went to his apartment to get his personal items that we saw what his world was like. Whatever took over his mind drove him to be like an animal and to extreme despair.
I now know the seriousness of this and it should never be taken lightly.

God bless,

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Dave, I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. Mental illness is real, and, many times, treatable. It can be devastating to those who suffer from it and their families.

St. Dymphna, pray for us!

Jeffrey Smith said...

That's a beautiful church. Where is it?

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

St. Peter's Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland, Maine

AutumnRose said...

I particularly agree with your last paragraph :¬)

Adrienne said...

The photo is gorgeous and your post is great! Thank you.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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