Via Pulchritudinis: The Luminous Beauty of Christ, Part 1

Moving on to part B) we discuss The Luminous Beauty of Christ and its Reflection in Christian HolinessWe’ll take this topic in two parts, starting here:

Jesus Christ is the perfect representation of the Glory of the Father. He is the most beautiful of (human) children …, for He possesses the fullness of the Grace by which God delivers (us) from sin, delivers (us) from the bondage of evil and returns (us) to (a) first innocence. A multitude of men and women have let themselves be seized by this beauty to consecrate themselves to it. As Pope Benedict XVI expressed during the first Canonization of his Pontificate at the closing Mass of the XI ordinary general Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, “the saint is the one who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his perfect truth that (she or) he is progressively transformed by it. For this beauty and this truth, (she or) he is ready to renounce everything, even (her- or) himself.” (23 October 2005)

The human commitment to consecration usually means a vowed religious life. This seems to be where the Pontifical Council is leaning here. With respect to the men and women who do commit to that form of life, I’d have to say the message to the Church as a whole needs to be much wider. Saints are there to be found in many walks of life. Families are at least as likely: spouses sacrificing for the other, parents for children and their own elderly parents.

Declared saints …

If Christian holiness configures to the beauty of the Son, the Immaculate Conception is the most perfect illustration of the work of beauty. The Virgin Mary and the saints are the luminous reflection and attractive witness of the singular beauty of Christ, beauty of infinite love of God who gives Himself and makes Himself known to (us). These reflect, each according to their manner, as prisms of a crystal, faces of a diamond, contours of a rainbow, the light and original beauty of the God of Love; (human) holiness is participation in the holiness of God and by it His beauty. When this is fully welcomed into the heart and spirit, it illuminates and guides the lives of men and women in their daily actions.

A lovely image, but many saints would self-describe as clear and transparent windows for Jesus to shine through as unfiltered as possible.

The beauty of Christian witness expresses the beauty of Christianity and provides for its future. How can we be credible in announcing the “good news” if our lives are unable to manifest the “beauty” of this life?

I think we suffer when we preach instead of announce, or indulge in apologetics, rather than gesture to something beautiful. Non-believers are singularly unconvinced by teachers and the frequent arrogance of the Church’s spokespeople. It appears to be the farthest thing from an artful witness, let alone something of beauty. It’s about utility. At best.

From the meeting of faith with Christ, springs forth, in an interior dynamic action supported by Grace, the holiness of the disciples and their capacity to make “beautiful and good” their common life and that of their neighbors. It is not exterior beauty and superficiality, a façade, but an interior beauty that is painted under the action of the Holy Spirit. It shines before (us): nothing can hide that which is an essential part of its being.

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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