“You are the Custodians of Beauty”

A couple of months ago, I began a series of posts on beauty.  Pope Benedict XVI just last week addressed a group of some 250 artists gathered in the Sistine chapel on this very theme. What particularly struck me in his address was the link he made between beauty and hope.

Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair.  . .  . What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream a life worthy of its vocation–if not beauty? . . . the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it form darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful. [You can read the rest of the address here.]

Though this was addressed particularly to artists, I am convinced of the importance of all of us having this mind in the living of our daily lives.  We can all be “custodians of beauty” (Paul VI) wherever we are.  Even if all we do–and by no means of little importance–if all we do is constantly invite the Holy Spirit to make of our souls a thing of beauty, we will be a worthy custodian of beauty.  We each need contact with beauty ourselves, true beauty, that is–art, music, poetry, literature, nature, people–and we each need to be purveyors of beauty to those around us.  And, as we do this, I think we will discover that link that Pope Benedict spoke of between beauty and hope.

Need I say that most of all we need to long for the beauty of God, a longing that will not be fulfilled until we see Him face to face.    “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing . . .to find the place where all the beauty came from.” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)And isn’t that what Advent is all about?

I would be interested in where you find beauty: what books you’ve read, how you bring beauty into your homes, etc.  Please feel free to comment.