Beauty is a complex issue – a huge variety of things are described as beautiful – music, sporting moments, paintings, dancing ….Most people identify beauty with art.
There are strong claims made for beauty: “Dostoyevsky claimed that, ‘only beauty will save the world.’ John Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth and truth beauty….That’s all we know and all we need to know.”
John O’Donohue in our own day claimed that, “the contemporary crises of our world can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty”. He goes on to suggest that the strongest condemnation of modern industrial life is its ugliness rather than its often cruel and crude materialism.
In our complex, rushed world it is easy to miss out on beauty (even in church) – a world in which efficiency is often valued ahead of beauty. Pope Benedict at his inauguration, called for a greater sense of beauty in liturgy, “if the church is to continue to transform and to humanise the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection?”
Pope Francis in Laudato Si, claims there is a beauty enfolded in our world, a divine presence in every presence. The Pope is telling us about a new way of looking, a new way of seeing, a new way of being that can see the divine message in everything, see the seeds of beauty scattered everywhere.
He wants us to recapture our sense of beauty – and view our planet the first sacrament of God’s beauty.
Beauty beckons to us and nourishes our spirit – it can take us past the ordinary to the mystical away from the expedient to the endlessly true…it is beauty that can sustain us in the midst of sorrow. Blaise Pascal suggested that in difficult times, you should always carry something beautiful in your heart. Could we add, even in your purse or pocket. Perhaps it is true, that beauty will save us in the end..