On truth and beauty

Abrief reflection on these words by David Warren: “Beauty, truth, goodness, are allied; as too, their opposites.”

Saint Augustine, speaks of veritatis splendor first. Many Christian thinkers followed Augustine in the exploration of the relation between truth and beauty. Implicit in the saint’s thought is the relation between lies and ugliness. Paradoxically Augustine sees an incipient form of freedom in obedience to dogma for the commandments of God free us from slavery to sin and its concurrent ugly results. By making ourselves servants of Christ we shake the heavy yoke of sin.

Monsignor Inos Biffi wants us to go one step ahead: “It is said that the dogmas are true. One must go farther, and say that the dogmas are beautiful. … One must continue and observe that the beauty of the mystery is not only that which appears through theological discourse, as intellectual aesthetics, through “the architectural organization of ideas,” but also … that which pours forth from the “cathedrals of stone,” or in the aesthetic of the visible, and, we would add, of poetry, of music.”

Wisdom leads to ecstasy by way of contemplation. Often that is a path traveled physically. I believe the miracle of a man and a woman falling in love and reaching the gates of creation through the Sacrament of Marriage is a natural allegory of that process that leads us from the womb of our mother to the beatific vision, that point when we know we are truly alive because we can “see” God.

The Mass — at least in my imagination — is a scale model of that path, an enchanting display of man’s pilgrimage: from the moment when the priest receives the faithful all the way to the moment of Communion, one can see not only an allegory of one’s life but mankind’s path through History. We ought to be overwhelmed by the mystery of the Mass, by its complexity and depth so we can develop new eyes in the same manner that the blind man of Jericho found new eyes when he made an extraordinary effort to call Jesus’ attention (Ephesians 1:18). When we go to Mass we first cry out for mercy in the very words that the blind man uttered: Kyrie eleison, “Lord, have mercy!” and then we see the Lord just like that blind man saw for the very first time and the very first thing he saw was God’s face.

At Mass we are given the vision of the Creator — both meanings of the word “vision” — wesee Him and we learn to see like Him: “Blessed are the clean of heart for they will see God.” We ask for mercy, we do ritual penance and then, having cleaned our hearts, we see God.

In the spiritual battle now raging around us the forces of evil are trying to obscure the splendor of truth. One of the main targets of the damned is the Eucharist for they believe that, if they eliminate the Mass and the Eucharist then they will have magically managed to put God in a pen. Many saints have warned us that the constant sign of the presence of God among us is going to be temporarily taken away. It happened to Jesus in Calvary when he sensed the absence of the Father and felt truly forsaken before darkness fell upon the earth for one hour. Beware He told us to expect the same treatment He got.

The attack on the Mass will continue until the damned achieve their objective. We may see a Christ-less Mass in our time, perhaps a Rome without a Holy Father, even a ban of Our Blessed Mother all at once, for those are the three things that make us Catholic and Catholic is now a bad word soon to be replaced by the more politically correct “ecumenical” or “all embracing.” As we descend into the darkness of that final eclipse we must remember that this is part of the process of separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be given new eyes to see a world made new by Christ after the Day of Wrath. As for the goats, because they say “we see” their sin remains and with it remain their chains, their blindness, and the ugly desolation of Gehenna.


Published 02 November 2013.

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