Truth, Beauty, Kindness : Does anyone know what true beauty and kindness are? Is there any objectivity to these attributes, or is it just how one views them? Let’s focus on what God has created for women and what society has commanded them to do.
Does the truth lie in women being successful career women despite their own feminine nature; in dependence on the admiration of others for their self-worth; or by their existence as mere objects of physical pleasure? Or are they called to discover the truth of their dignity in the model of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, who reflects and participates in the Divine Truth, Beauty, and Goodness that all creation is called to reflect and share?
Questions about truth, beauty, and goodness are questions that have intrigued mankind for centuries. The pagan philosophers sought to identify what was Right, Good, and Beautiful. But for Christians, there is no other answer than to affirm that the Triune God is the True, the Most Beautiful, and the Good. By His essence, God is all three. Everything else only with participation. We can know this because God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2500 tells us that “even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God revealed himself to (humans) through the universal language of creation.” All creation reflects its Creator; therefore, we can see something of Beauty itself in creation.
Truth, beauty, and goodness, which are called “transcendental”, cannot be separated from each other because they are one entity because the Trinity is One. Truth itself is beautiful. And goodness describes all that God has created. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
Man is the pinnacle of the Creator’s work, as the Scriptures state by clearly distinguishing human creation from other creations. “God created man in His own image…” (Gen. 1:27). Thus, man is not only created good and beautiful, but he is also founded in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that will only surpass the glory of the new creation in Christ. .
The inner harmony of the first man, the harmony between the first man and woman (Adam and Eve), and the harmony between the first couple and all of creation, is called “original justice”. This whole harmony of original justice was lost by the sin of our first parents. Created in a holy state, humans are destined to be completely “divine” by God in glory. But he chose himself over God and disobeyed God’s commandments.
Thus, Adam and Eve soon lost the grace of true holiness, and the harmony they lived in was broken. They are separate from Beauty Itself. However, God did not forsake mankind, all of whom shared Adam’s sin, for “through the disobedience of the one man all were made sinners” (Rom. 5:12). In the fulness of times God sent His Son to restore what was lost. The Son, who is “beautiful above the children of men,” came to restore our beauty.
So, now we turn to beauty. Von Balthasar once said that when a person tries to attract others to God, he must start with beauty because beauty is attractive. Beauty will then lead to truth and goodness. Therefore, if one is going to start with beauty then one should know what beauty is. I will make a distinction between two types of beauty, even if only one of them is beautiful in the truest sense.
There is a “seductive” beauty, which is often reflected in our culture today. This will require whatever persuades us to destroy ourselves (morally or spiritually). It takes us away from the purpose for which we were created, to unite with Beauty itself. I will return to this type of beauty, but first I want to establish a proper definition and understanding of what “true” beauty is.
It is first and foremost whatever draws us to our true fulfillment and happiness. In his book The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty, John Saward, drawing on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, defines beauty as: “the luster of substantial or actual form found in the proportions of material things.” In other words, while one can find beauty in outward appearances, one must go deeper into the nature or essence of h.
“Thus, in material substances (such as humans) there is beauty when the essence of something shines brightly through its outward appearance.” The beauty of one’s soul can be said to radiate from the look on one’s face. For this to happen, three things are needed – wholeness (integrity), proper proportion (harmony), and light (clarity).
It is important to note that what is understood in this definition is the fact that beauty is reality itself, it is not something we produce by looking at a work of art or something else that attracts us. Instead, beauty radiates from what we see. It radiates from participating in Beauty itself. Regarding Jesus, “Christian tradition – from Augustine and Hilary to Peter Lombard, Albert, Thomas, and Bonaventure – holds that beauty can be adapted in a special way to the Second Person…”
St. Thomas says that all three signs of beauty are found in Jesus. Light is found in Him because He is the Word of the Father, and the Word forever spoken by the Father completely and perfectly reveals Him. He is the brightness of the Father’s mind. The right proportions are found in the Son of God because He is the perfect image of the Father. As image perfect, She is divine beauty. Jesus has wholeness because He has all the nature of the Father in Him.
In giving birth to the Son, the Father communicated His entire divine essence. So we have a Divine Person, God the Son, who ceaselessly became true God, became true man for us in the womb of the Virgin. When one sees the Virgin and the Child, one sees the witness of the Trinity. Pope John Paul II explained that this image of Mother and Child “is a tacit but firm statement of Mary’s virgin motherhood, and for that reason, the divinity of the Son.”
It is such a Trinity witness that allows Mary a special place in her relationship with the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. The Blessed Virgin, said fifteenth-century poet John Lydgate, was “the most beautiful Mother who ever lived.” Many poets and artists have endeavored to express their praise and admiration for Him who is so closely united with Divinity.
When Dante reaches Paradise, he finds the most perfect beauty of the Son of God reflected in Mary, from whom He was born. Thus, we will see how Mary should be to all, but especially women, a model of true beauty, and thus, goodness and truth, because she reflects sharing in the life of the Trinity.
“All the beauties of soul and body which the Son of God brought into the world, all the beauties which He wished to bestow upon mankind, are summed up, and mediated by the person of His ever-virgin Mother, ‘a woman in the dress of the sun, the moon under her feet, and in the upon his head is a crown of twelve stars’ (Revelation 12:1). If there is beauty, it is here.”
To understand the beauty of Mary, one must know the gifts bestowed upon her, and her response to these gifts, which puts her in intimate contact with Beauty, Itself. The Bible, God’s revealed Word, tells us that “an angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph … and the name of the virgin was Mary.
And she ( angel) came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord be with you!… Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found the mercy of God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you will call Him Jesus.
He will be great and be called Son of the Most High… And Mary said, ‘How can this be because I have no husband?’ And the angel said to him, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’ …And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.'” (Luke 1:26-38).
In order to become the Savior’s mother, Mary was given the gifts necessary and fit for the role. Maria was greeted as “full of grace”, as if that was her real name. A name reveals a person’s identity. “Full of grace” is Mary’s essence, her identity, and the meaning of her life. Mary was full of grace because God was with her.
The grace she fills is the presence of Him who is the source of all grace, and she is handed over to Him who has come to live in her and whom she will give to the world. He was by sole grace free from the stain of sin because of the merits of his Son. He had the harmony that was missing from Adam. As such, she possesses the first two qualities of beauty: proper proportion (harmony) and integrity (wholeness) because by the merits of her Son and the fullness of grace that has been bestowed upon her, her nature is complete – unharmed and unsullied by sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterpiece of the mission of the Son and of the Spirit in the fullness of time … In her, the ‘wonders of God’ that the Spirit must be fulfilled in Christ and in the Church begin to be manifested.” Through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring man, “the object of God’s merciful love, into fellowship with Christ.”
Grace has been described as “the better beauty of God, the splendor of the soul.” And Mary, full of grace, radiates that splendor, that spiritual beauty. Grace (sanctifying grace) gives us a share in the Divine Life; it makes our souls like Christ. Mary in her abundance of grace is a reflection of the beauty of her Son.
She has “glow” which is the third quality of beauty. St. Bernard the Great of Clairvaux stated that “contemplating the face of the Mother is the best way to prepare to see the face of the glorious Son.” Saward supports this idea by pointing out the fact that our Lord was conceived by the Holy Spirit without a seed, so that there is only one human person He resembled in His humanity, and that is His Virgin Mother.
How does Mary’s beauty enable today’s women to be images of true beauty, and therefore truth and goodness? Mary, Theotokos – Mother of God, Mother of Infinite Beauty, who herself is beautiful, will guide women to what is right and good. She demonstrates the falsehood of “seductive beauty,” which we noted above as anything that entices us to our self-destruction (morally or spiritually), by maintaining its own “true” beauty in contrast.
Before showing the essence of Mary’s beauty, which meets the requirements of St. Thomas for beauty: wholeness, proportion, and radiance, we will look at society’s claims about female beauty. Women today are told by society that what is good and beautiful is glamorous and seductive.
Beauty is separated from God, who is neglected and His goodness is exchanged for “unnatural thoughts and unseemly conduct” (Rom. 1:28), leading to spiritual and often physical destruction. The “truth” they are taught is that which “considers human beings (and therefore, women) not as persons but as things, as objects of commerce, for their selfish interests and pleasures… this falsehood bears bitter fruit such as contempt for men and women, slavery, oppression of the weak, pornography, prostitution…”
Thus, beauty is often seen as a mere physical quality. It does not have “proper proportions” because only one aspect of the whole person is considered. Society emphasizes the physical to the exclusion of the spiritual. Flowing from this same type of mentality, we see that women are valued more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family.
What “seems” attractive are women who are able to achieve the “goods” of a successful career, which promises happiness and “equality with men.” To achieve this, women often give up their femininity or simply become imitations of the male role. They in a sense trade in the quality of “integrity”, which is necessary for true beauty, for society’s limited claims of beauty.
This “seductive beauty” that promises so much “goodness” gives rise to a hedonism that distorts and falsifies human sexuality and the true dignity of the human person. This leads not only to a lack of respect for what constitutes womanhood, as the truth about their personal dignity as persons created and redeemed by God is unknown, but also prevents women from reaching the “fullness of grace” for which they are. they were created. This leads to the spiritual destruction of women because they do not live a life full of grace. They do not live for God.
Mary, who lived a life filled with grace, however, is the model of the redeemed woman. The Lord himself “manifested the dignity of women in the highest possible form by taking the human flesh of the Virgin Mary, whom the Church venerates as the Mother of God.” The highest exaltation of human nature occurred in the male sex, when Jesus, the Son of God, became man and man.
The highest elevation of the human person occurs in the feminine sex, in the Virgin Mary. Her divine motherhood gave her a high dignity. He is “blessed among women.” Therefore, all women share in its blessings and become radiant by it. “When the Virgin Mary is humbly honored for the sake of her Son, women will be honored … because she has revealed the true beauty of womanhood.”
Looking at what we have said about Mary, we know that being “full of grace” reveals her essence, her identity. It is also the key to his reflection on the Righteous, the Good, and the Beautiful. This is the key for women to discover the truth of their own dignity, and hence, to the divine life that is offered to them through the life of grace. This is the life that will bestow upon them true goodness and beauty, which is participation in the beauty of the Creator.
Because Mary is “full of grace,” she has the wholeness that Adam lost. By grace, he “shines like the sun,” showing in himself the clarity of life in union with God. Such unity shines in one’s actions; actions that reflect the goodness of God. “The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty” (CCC 2500).
These acts, which are called virtues, are “acquired through education, by deliberate action and by diligence which is always renewed in repeated efforts to be purified and elevated by divine grace” (CCC1810). Grace affects every dimension of a person’s life. It is God’s grace that brings us closer to God. The closer we are to God, the more we reflect Him who is Truth, Beauty, and Good.
Mary was appointed to us as the model of a life of virtue. He is a guide in living a life of fidelity to grace. Due to space limitations, I will only briefly look at the three virtues that Mary possesses and invite us to emulate them. They are faith, obedience, and charity. The Church lauds Mary as “an excellent example in faith and love” (Lumen Gentium 53).
We see his faith as he entrusted himself freely to God at the time of the Annunciation, believing and trusting the angel’s message to him that the son to be born to him would be the Son of the Most High, convinced that “with God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:30). His journey of faith continues in his response to what is happening in his life of union with Jesus.
He fled to Egypt when Joseph was directed to go there (Matt. 2:13-15); he returns in the same way (Matt. 2:19-23); and he faithfully persevered in his union with his Son on the cross (cf. LG#58, John 19:25-27), while still trusting and trusting in the wisdom of God’s divine plan. He believed that his Son, though crucified and buried, would rise from the dead. He waited in prayer (Acts 1:14). We are also called to be women of faith, believing what God has revealed about His plan for us and our salvation.
Flowing from Mary’s deep faith, she demonstrates her loving obedience. Hers is not service compliance. Rather it is obedience that flows from humility. He knows the wisdom and greatness of God and therefore, strives to live according to it. Obedience to God means responding by trusting His wise plan. Again, at the Annunciation, he answered in obedience to the angel, “Let it be to me as you say” (Luke 1:36).
He obediently followed the instructions the angel gave Joseph, trusting in the Lord. Mary remained obedient to her role as mother even to the cross, where she obediently offered the full approval of her intellect and will to Him whose ways were incomprehensible. As we seek to imitate Mary’s obedience, we will find that it frees us from the bondage of sin. Obedience makes us beautiful because it opens us to God’s grace, to His life and love in us.
Mary’s faith and obedience allowed her great love to shine through. Mary, Mother of Most Beautiful Love, has a humble love, innocent of all narcissism. “By Christ and to the glory of the Father, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, our Mother is ‘everything’.” He devoted himself “wholly as a minister of God to the person and work of his Son. … he did this freely” (LG # 56).
Acceptance of her role as “Mother of the Son of God is guided by the love of a spouse, a love which completely sanctifies man to God. Through this love, Mary wants always and in everything that is given to God.” The love that remained faithful to his Son throughout his life, even until his cruel death at Calvary, extended to his Son’s brothers, souls who still wander the earth (cf. LG #62-63).
There is nothing more beautiful than charity, which we are all called to practice, and which inspires and animates all other virtues (cf. CCC 1827). Charity, the form of all virtues “binds all things together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14), an aspect of beauty.
This virtue and life of grace is made possible for all women, who seek to know the truth and take advantage of the grace that comes from the merits of Jesus Christ, who came to restore mankind to the beauty of adopted children and “partakers of the divine nature” (1 Pt 1 :3). Saint Francis de Sales notes that it is because of our grace that we are so Christlike that we resemble God perfectly, because in becoming human, Jesus took our form and gave us his likeness. So, we must do what we can to preserve this divine beauty and likeness that He has restored to us.
Mary helps women to do this. Her beauty is attractive, and because it is attractive she leads us to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Mary is loved and respected because she reflects the truth, beauty, and goodness of her Son through her actions, with her life of virtue. His role is to lead others to Him and to the truths He teaches and are. This is seen by looking once again at how creation reflects the beauty of God.
Everything God created is good; it is beautiful. Jesus, who is the fullness of revelation, has elevated creation to an even higher dignity by restoring all things “according to the plan which God pleased to restore in Christ. unite all things in Him in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 1 :9-10). Thus, harmony is restored, everything is made whole, and His glory is announced. Because “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14)
Man was created in God’s image and delight; Jesus renews mankind in His eternal image. He restores us to be like God. Mary reflects the beauty of her Son in her essence. Mary is the one who will, in collaboration with her Divine Son, help women to discover the truth of their feminine nature, to reflect the beauty of a child of God, and by the grace of God to live the goodness that comes from God alone.
Women, in order to achieve this goal, must turn to Mary as a model, whom God has chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of His Son, and to be our guide on our journey to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. , our true fulfillment and happiness.
Women must entrust themselves to Mary’s guidance because she has become their calling: full of grace. As the Church prays in the Divine Liturgy: Lord, as we honor the glorious memory of the Virgin Mary, we ask that with the help of her prayers, we too may come to share the fullness of Your graces,” so that by that grace we too may reflect what is True, Beautiful, and Good.