Monday, June 15, 2015
Our Lady: The Fullness of Beauty
Beauty is often a word that is misunderstood. It is often a term used in a subjective manner to describe something that is pleasing to the senses. It is true that beauty can have a subjective element to it. One can personally find a Gothic church more pleasing to the senses than a sunset over the gulf coast for example. Both however can described as being objectively beautiful. The church pleases the senses because it brings to the senses the truths of God. God's majesty and truth is presented through the stained glass or the statues of His Saints, adorned with gold and masterfully carved out of marble or wood. Likewise we see the handiwork of God in the sunset over the gulf which God created and sustains. These are objective subjects of beauty.
Likewise we can define things that defy the definition of beauty objectively. We can objectively say that things that are sinful are not beautiful, since these actions go against nature and teleology properly speaking. Ideas that stem from disordered appetites are also outside the bounds of beauty. When we see sin being depicted on television for example, it is not beautiful. We can say the act depicts ugliness. Something that is disordered towards its form and nature is not beautiful. So a human being that is physically or deformed, although that person retains the image of God and retains an inward beauty, we can define their exterior appearance being objectively ugly. For example a person who is mutilated or afflicted with a disease such as leprosy is objectively physically ugly. Ugliness is the description of the corruption of something.
This applies to actions in and of themselves as well as spiritual realities. Likewise when a person lives in a state of sin, that is a lifestyle going against their very nature as God created them, this state is objectively ugly. A person who lives perpetually in adultery for example live a spiritually repulsive life that defies beauty. As for another example, today we see that most women are dressed extremely immodest in public. Although their human form, their body can be pleasing to the eye, well formed or physically beautiful, the person by dressing immodestly defies the nature of true beauty in their action. So beauty can be objectively defined when something more perfectly conforms to its nature, either physically, in actuality or spiritually. So something that conveys a truth about God and His Saints for example can objectively be defined as having beauty. Something which depicts a corruption of one's form and nature can be objectively defined as ugly.
We can also say that things which are evil by nature do not convey beauty, but ugliness. Thus the demons are not beautiful. Evil actions such as abortion are not beautiful. The mutilation of one's body is always defined as ugliness. Evil or satanic acts, or acts against virtue are always ugly. Music that conveys disorder is not beautiful. People who commit evil acts are not beautiful in their actions, although their physical appearance may convey beauty by having more perfection of bodily proportions, and so forth. Again this is not to say that one may find one object of beauty more pleasing than another.
Now we turn to created beauty par excellence. Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary defines the fullness of beauty in every sense of the word. Aside from the incarnation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is no higher beauty we can contemplate. Since Jesus is God, we can say that there is no created creature under God that is more beautiful than Our Lady. She conveys the highest beauty in both the physical and spiritual attributes of all created creatures. She was chosen by God from all time to be His Mother as well as be the anti-thesis to Eve. While Eve was the mother of fallen man, Our Lady is the Mother of redeemed man. Saint Ireneaus wrote of Our Lady, "The knot of Eve's disobedience was loosened by Mary's obedience. The bonds fastened by the virgin Eve through disbelief were untied by the virgin Mary through faith."
Our Lady is often described by the mystics who have seen her in apparitions as too beautiful to describe and too beautiful to depict in any image. When Mother Mariana saw Our Lady as Our Lady of Good Success she could not describe her beauty. In fact, when Our Lady asked Mother Mariana to have a statue made of her, she thought it was a futile task because she said no one could make a statue that would ever come near doing her justice in her beauty. As we know, Our Lady had the statue started by a local artisan, but it was finished by an archangel so that the statue would at least convey something of her great beauty, although of course imperfectly. If you have ever had the opportunity to see the beauty of the statue of Our Lady of Good Success in person, you will understand. It is certain that there is no created creature more beautiful. Saint Bernadette said the following after seeing Our Lady. "My Lady is beautiful, beautiful beyond compare; so beautiful that when one has seen her once, one would wish to die so as to see her again; so beautiful that when one has seen her, one can no longer love anything earthly."
Our Lady's spiritual beauty is also indescribable and incomprehensible. She gave her full ascent to God's command and with her full will cooperated with every grace that was given to her. Our Lady never had the stain of original sin on her soul. She was never touched or stained by evil. Saint Ephraim the Syrian in 361 praises Our Lord and His Mother, "You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?" Her beauty is pure because she fully represents in her form and nature the light of God's image to which all men are created. She is the epitome of beauty in all things human. Her prayers, her words, her thoughts, her ideas, her actions, her intercession, and her love are all beautiful in the fullest sense of the term. She also possess beauty by overcoming the evil in our world and in our own souls. Her beauty conquers the devil and his attempts to thwart the beauty of God's plan of salvation. There is also beauty in Our Lady crushing the head of Satan, stamping out the evil in the world, and untying the knot of sin. There is so much more that can be said of Our Lady, that we do not even scratch the surface of the praises she deserves.
Who then should we turn to open the arms of her Son, Jesus Christ? What beauty there is in asking Our Lady to help us. What beauty there is in her intercession and in her maternal affection. Our Lady is calling us to spend more time in prayer, because she loves us. We should heed her words and pray the rosary daily as well as offer up prayers and reparation for the ugliness of sin in the world. Our Lady is also calling us to spread her devotion under the title of Our Lady of Good Success so that the time will be shortened until her reign comes to put the breaks on the devil's plan of death, destruction and damnation. We can hasten her intercession by pleading to her and offering up novenas under this noble and glorious title. The more time we spend with Our Lord and Our Lady the more we will see beauty in our lives and in our world. As our souls become more pure and virtuous, we become instruments guided by the Holy Ghost and henceforth we become more beautiful in the eyes of God. As we conform more to our true nature as it was created, defined and directed by God, the beauty of God grows in us.
I leave you with the thoughts of Saint Gemma Galgani who demonstrated great love for Our Lady throughout her life. May we also echo these same words in our own lives.
"..what great goodness this Heavenly Mother has always shown me! What would have become of me, if I had not had her? She has always helped me in my spiritual wants; she has preserved me from countless dangers; she has freed me from the hands of the devil who was ceaselessly coming to molest me; she pleaded my cause with Jesus when I sinned, and she soothed Him when I moved Him to anger by my wicked life; she has taught me to know Him and love Him, to be good and to please Him. Ah, my dear Mother, I will love thee always and forever." what great goodness this Heavenly Mother has always shown me! What would have become of me, if I had not had her? She has always helped me in my spiritual wants; she has preserved me from countless dangers; she has freed me from the hands of the devil who was ceaselessly coming to molest me; she pleaded my cause with Jesus when I sinned, and she soothed Him when I moved Him to anger by my wicked life; she has taught
me to know Him and love Him, to be good and to please Him. Ah, my dear Mother, I will love thee always and forever."