I have heard it frequently said that we must evangelize through beauty, and I wholeheartedly agree. My definition of beauty is a broad one. Actually, beauty has been of great interest to me since I was a child. I have always been able to see beauty in everyone, some feature, some sign, some unnamed energy even.
Have you ever looked at the face of an elderly person and seen someone more beautiful than a painted runway model? Have you ever encountered a difficult person and somehow, despite their seemingly purposeful mission to hurt you, you have seen a salvific beauty there?
Beauty is truth, and truth beauty. We should meditate on these words often. Creating interest in the Catholic life is something we all want to do, and I’m grateful that God has provided us so many and various beautiful helps. If these earthly things are but a minuscule foretaste of Heaven, then we are in for unspeakable ecstasy if we are blessed someday to see the Beatific Vision.
When most Catholics and even many seculars refer to the beauty of The Catholic Church, they mean the soaring Cathedral ceilings, the unspeakable beauty of The Mass, the pageantry that our Lord fully present in the Eucharist deserves. Few people can resist the smells, sounds, and vibrations in the air that are experienced during the Mass. If you don’t find this beautiful, you may not like Heaven very much, since the Bible and Tradition tells us that Heaven will be nonstop worship of God. The Mass, in a very real way, is Heaven on earth. And to think, you can have it every single day, no matter where you are in this world.
The beauty of the Church doesn’t end there.
I can think of few things as beautiful as serving others. This is what we were conceived for: to help, hold, feed, wash, instruct, and love the other.
Our Blessed Mother is beauty personified. No one knows exactly what she looked like on earth or now, as Queen of Heaven. In my heart and my dreams she appears as a healer, a mother, a friend, sometimes very young and sometimes, her face etched with pain.
The sorrow of Mary has its own tragic beauty. Anyone who has mourned a loved one, or suffered deeply in any way, should cling to Mary. She is not a distant icon. She is as close to you as you allow her to be, beloved Mama of the boy Jesus, the woman who carried Jesus inside of her for nine months, felt his kicking inside of her, and finally watched him slowly die on a cross. She can take your pain, too, and share the burden of it with you. Hers is not a superficial beauty, but a supernatural one.
Life is beautiful. Fighting for life is our mission as the Body of Christ, because one of the tenets of our faith is that every life has dignity and beauty. The least among us is not always a beautiful child awaiting adoption. Sometimes the least among us is what the secular world calls a blob, or a parasite, or a “product of conception.” To us, this life is beautiful because God made it and endowed it with His presence from the second of fertilization.
Laughter is beautiful. God wants us to be joyful, silly and easily fascinated like little children. Many of us are just about beaten down with pressures and pains. If we can show the world joy in spite of that, then truly we are witnesses of Christ’s redemptive love.
Peace is beautiful. Keeping silent instead of having the last word. Protecting someone else when it will reduce your own popularity to do so. Nurture peace in your own heart instead of discord, competitiveness, and jealousy.
So many times, what the world calls ugly is really beautiful. Beauty, as we have heard ad infinitum, is in the eye of the beholder. This is true in the Catholic life. As the beholder, you have the opportunity, the responsibility, and the God-given gift to see beauty where others are limited to only seeing deformity, disability, weakness, and imperfection.
The secular world has fooled itself into believing that beauty is something that man can make! How silly and prideful we are! How arrogant! How fervently you should pray that your eye can see the beauty of the all knowing, all powerful God’s hand in every creature rejected by this dark, cynical, materialistic world.
Evangelize through beauty? Yes! But don’t put beauty in the one box that you are comfortable with at this point in your spiritual journey. Let Christ show you, through His words and through humble receiving of the Eucharist, how very near to you true beauty is, and how far above you you have convinced yourself it resides.