Thursday, July 26, 2012

God's Beauty

I was reading a beautifully written essay by David Scott entitled "God, the Hound of Heaven." (Citation HERE) Scott asserts:

"The Catholic believes that the Trinity has left marks of his kindness and omnipotence in creation, like a divine tattoo. ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God,’ said the nineteenth-century Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, perhaps the finest Catholic poet. Another poet of the divine, the sixteenth-century Spanish monk St. John of the Cross, saw vestiges of the Trinity everywhere:
        ‘Scattering a thousand graces,
        He passed through these groves in haste,
        And looking upon them as He went,
        Left them, by His grace alone,
        Clothed in beauty
"All this beauty, all this power and glory, is meant to lift us up, to lead us deeper into the weft of the Father. We know with Augustine that ‘heaven and earth and all that is in the universe cries out to me from all directions, that I, O God, must love you.’"
I’m not sure when I first began to love beauty. I was not raised in a "cultured" family that appreciated art and fine music and nature’s beauty. It wasn’t that my parents were against such things, it was just that they were not raised that way.

We did go to the beach when I was a child and so I learned to love the sea and its beauty. And I was read to when I was little all these wonderful childhood stories and I eventually read the books myself and have always loved reading ever since. Reading opened wide my imagination. In High School I was enrolled in the College Preparation program, and so I was introduced to some classical literature at that time.

But perhaps I first began to experience beauty and its inspiration when I attended an Episcopalian Eucharist, which I would later learn was very much like the Catholic Mass. Having been raised a Methodist, at that time that denomination’s worship was based in very good songs and the preaching of God’s Word. Not much emphasis was placed on the visual and ritual.

That first Eucharist I attended, it enchanted me. The music was good. The preaching was good. But what I had never experienced connected to the worship of God was seeing a priest in vestments, praying over the bread and wine, and the deep reverence of that prayer and the reverence showed by those attending. I started attending the Sunday Eucharist in that Episcopal Church and I liked the ceremony, the opening procession with banners and the sense that this kind of sacramental worship had a long history. I would eventually trace this history back to the Catholic Church itself and so become a Catholic.

But from that first time, when I was still in High School, when I attended my first Eucharist, I discovered that God is beautiful and speaks to us in beauty.

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