“Beauty is the battlefield where God and Satan contend for the hearts of men.”
– Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“Late have I loved thee, Beauty so old and so new; late have I loved thee. Lo, you were within, but I was outside, seeking there for you, and upon the shapely things you have made I rushed headlong — I, misshapen. You were with me, but I was not with you. They held me back far from you, those things which would have no being, were they not in you.”
– Augustine, The Confessions
I recently listened to this lovely classical guitarist:
She is not only extremely gifted, she is also quite attractive.
God has blessed her with so many gifts which she shares with us, the rest of the world.
Whenever I hear lovely music, or see something well crafted, created with care and skill, I see God.
For me, that is beauty and the purpose of beauty.
Fr. TS Reid wrote an insightful blog post, Beauty and Catholic Life, pertaining to this topic.
Here are some excerpts I want to share:
"Beauty and Catholic Life
by Fr. Timothy S. Reid
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!”—St. Augustine of Hippo
As Catholics, we know that the whole purpose of this life is to become holy so that we can live with God forever in heaven. Our goal is to become like God Himself, in whose image we have been created.
If God is Beauty Itself, as St. Augustine suggests in the quote above, then perhaps we can refer to this process as beautification! With this in mind, living a Catholic life is really a process of becoming more beautiful.
... Great philosophers of history like Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas teach us that beauty is a quality, either natural or man-made, that delights the senses, the mind, or the soul. ...
Most importantly, beauty is not something we consume, but it is something that must be contemplated in order to be enjoyed. In other words, we must receive it and allow it to shape us. Beauty is something to ponder or to meditate upon.
To fully appreciate beauty, it is helpful to look at the way St. Augustine used the word “beauty” in the quote at the beginning of this article. For St. Augustine, “beauty” is another word for God Himself. God is not simply beautiful; He is Beauty.
... beauty, along with unity, truth, and goodness, is one of the transcendental attributes of being.
.... Beauty is not just another attribute or adjective like “prettiness,” or “ugliness.” There is a metaphysical reality to beauty that bespeaks of God Himself, and that’s why Augustine referred to God as “Beauty.” God is Beauty Itself.
...the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn...reflected on the statement of another Russian author, Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “Beauty Will Save the World.”
... most of us don’t see beauty as a necessity, but merely as a pleasant accessory to life. This is where Catholic thought and philosophy must step up to the plate. Dostoyevsky was right. Beauty can indeed save the world, and it does so one soul at a time. ...
All of us live in two spheres of existence, one internal and one external. ...
Beauty’s power to connect us with our interior life stems from its transcendent nature. ....
... beauty draws us out of ourselves. Specifically, beauty draws us toward God, who is Beauty Itself. ....
While so much of our society is wrapped up in physical beauty, as Catholics we know that inner beauty (or moral goodness) is what matters most. ...., the experience of beauty feeds our souls. It reminds us that we have eternal and immortal souls, and that we were created to live eternally with God in heaven.
The experience of beauty is actually a foretaste of heaven because it leads us to God,... Beauty is our portal to the interior life of our soul. It is through beauty that we can come to know and love God better in this life, which will only increase our desire to be with Him in the next.