Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Shakespeare's poetry. A mother holding her baby. The first signs of spring in the garden. In every corner of the earth, God's beauty, in all its' perfect, various forms, stretches out, to touch us in grand images of splendor and the simplicity of everyday life.
As Catholics, we embrace beauty in our churches, our rituals, our music, and our icons. We preserve this beauty, because it is a gift from God, through which we are given a small window into the full grace and splendor of Heaven.
The beauty of the world is but a small part of the beauty that we will experience in a Christ-filled life. If we live for God, we live for truth, beauty, and love. Once we look at the world through the eyes of our Lord, we cannot help but be filled with love for its wonder, and respond in awe to the creation he has made.
The great priest Hans Urs von Balthasar once said, "The beautiful claims the viewer, changes him, and then sends him on a mission." Christ uses the beauty of his creation to galvanize us to action, to give us a small slice of his eternal reward here on earth. We see God's love in this beauty, and we are called to reflect it in ourselves.
In this way, we can use beauty as a form of evangelization. In fact, Fr. Robert Barron suggests that the best evangelical strategy is one that moves first from the beautiful, then to the good, and finally to the truth. The progression from beauty to truth is natural, and although intellectualizing and moralizing tend to be harsh, beauty can soften their blow, and create alchemy in our souls. We have the opportunity to change metal to gold in our lives, simply by observing and appreciating beauty. In doing so, we become closer to God, and richer in our faith.
The New Evangelization calls us to share the truth, the beauty that is God. By witnessing beauty and fully appreciating it in its many forms, we strengthen our desire to share the good and seek the truth. Begin with beauty, change metal to gold, and share the glory of Heaven!