Fixing our sense of beauty PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 March 2016 13:27

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

There’s practically an SOS signal issued widely today insofar as our sense of beauty is concerned. Beauty to most people has been abducted and is in urgent need for rescue. It has been held captive for a long time by some social, cultural and ideological forces that distort its true nature and character, and deny its full rights.

I remember Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, way back in 2008, making a most heart-felt appeal to reconnect the search for beauty with the search for truth and goodness of actions, or morality, which in the end can only be found in God.

The de facto separation of beauty from truth and morality has transformed beauty, in the words of the Pope Emeritus, “into a path that leads to the ephemeral, into banal and superficial appearances, or even a flight toward artificial paradises, which disguise and hide interior emptiness and inconsistencies.”

I believe this issue has to be given due and immediate attention before things get any worse. With the many developments nowadays that can easily seduce and intoxicate us because of their enormous capacity to give us instant pleasure, convenience and relief, we have to learn to be most discerning and prudent so as not to get lost or confused in what really would comprise as good and beautiful to us.

We need to reiterate quite strongly that beauty in the end is a matter of being with God. For art, for example, to portray beauty, it has to be inspired by God. I agree with what a certain Herman Hesse, quoted by the Pope Emeritus, once said. “Art,” he said, “means revealing God in everything that exists.”

Being “custodians of beauty,” artists therefore have to realize that they need to be inspired by God always. They have to go beyond technical perfection and worldly inspiration.

They need to be faithful to God and consistent to God’s will and ways. Only in this way can they capture real beauty, not the reduced and compromised one. Let’s hope that they can manage to pursue their artistic creativity and originality along these lines.

Thus, unless we see God in everything, which means that we have God in us to be able to see him in everything, we would hardly see real beauty. Our sense of beauty would be the distorted or false type.

We have to be wary of our strong tendency to romanticize our concept of beauty. It is often said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This can be true only if one has God in himself.

When our sense of beauty is truly inspired by God, then we can see beauty in everything, including our suffering, failures, and the drudgery of the daily routine of our life.

Otherwise, he will simply be dependent only on some technical if not peripheral aspects of beauty that at best can only be transitory and highly limited. He would simply be at the mercy of material or sensual stimuli. He would not be able to see beauty in everything, especially in those times when our human mind can only discern suffering, pain and other forms of contradictions.

We need to have a more effective catechesis on what beauty really is. We need to liberate the world from an insidious misconception that has deceived us for long. The organic connection between God and beauty has to be clearly established in the minds of people.

And after catechesis, one has to learn how to contemplate beauty in everything, seeing to it that more than simply guided by what our senses can discern, we have to be guided by the truths of our faith. In this way, we can contemplate God in everyone and in everything, and find beauty and meaning in them.

This would also be a good way to fill up our mind and heart with good things that would leave us happy and in a better position to do more good things. Right now, many people find themselves empty or simply drifting away, and very vulnerable to look for compensations that can be instantly sweet yet poisonous, like drugs, sex, etc.

This, I know, is a big challenge, but it simply has to be tackled one way or another. Let’s hope that more and more individuals can take on this challenge. And let’s hope that in the future, we can readily see some welcome change in our culture insofar as our sense of beauty is concerned.

Yes, we have to fix our sense of beauty so we may be able to see beauty in everything irrespective of our human and earthly conditions.