Papal Preacher strikes again! [via Happy Catholic] Fr. Cantalamessa offers a singularly trinitarian definition of beauty that meets with observations from Sr. Mary Ann Huddleston in her article from Spiritual Life magazine titled Beauty, The Forgotten Attribute: Beauty's Role In Holiness. In it, she explores beauty from the perspective of Aquinas, Kant, Balthasar, and Adler before posing the question, "How does Beauty lead us to Holiness?" To answer that question she lays out the following attributes:

1. It has universal appeal
2. It predisposes one for contemplation
3. It carries one out of oneself
4. It protects one from overindulgence

with her overarching thesis to restore Beauty to its rightful place among the Transcendentals, alongside Truth and Goodness. I find this most interesting because I helped conduct a retreat once upon a time in which we contemplated God as the One, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and my task was to prepare a reflection on God the Beautiful. Then I told my fellow retreatants that we need not meditate long on the mysteries of Creation all around us before we realize that God is Beauty; but I pressed for more when I asked them to ponder the Beatitudes, those descriptions of people who dwell in the Kingdom of God.

People who are holy have been beatified and manifest the Beatific Vision in the way they conduct their lives. I think this is what Sr. Huddleston is driving at. When we live in a beautiful way, we are on the Way of Beauty, which is clearly also the Way of the Cross, for it means being all those things that Christ demands of us in the Sermon on the Mount. So Beauty = Holiness. The pursuit of one will inevitably lead to the other. To pursue the One who is Good, True, and Beautiful will be the Way we should choose to live our lives, a sentiment shared by Keith Strohm at Intentional Disciples:

"That's why it is more important than ever for baptized lay men and women to support, nurture, and create artistic works that offer beauty to the world. We need to engage with the culture, not simply with another offensive in the culture wars, but by living lives that express beauty and love, offering witness to the dignity of the human person and the majesty and beauty of the God who Loves us even to His death."

That notion, that Beauty = Love, sums it all. Cantalamessa says, "Beauty is the three divine Persons facing each other from the beginning with a joyful and silent gaze." When we Love in this selfless, communal way, we participate in Divine Life. I've read a Patristic definition of the Trinity that is a summa unto itself: God is the Lover Loving the Beloved. This is the homily of the Crucifixion as well. And so I arrive at a second Lenten leitmotif:

In addition to being more Humble & Pure of Heart, we are called this Lent to render ourselves Beautiful.

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