Can we know what true beauty and goodness are? Is there an objectivity to these attributes or is it simply what we perceive them? Let's focus on what God has created for women to be and what society tells them to be. Does the truth lie in the fact that women are career women who succeed in excluding their own feminine nature? to depend on the admiration of others for their self-esteem; or in their being mere physical objects of pleasure? Or are they called to find the truth of their dignity in the model of Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who reflects and participates in the Divine Truth, Beauty and Goodness, to which all creation is called to reflect and to participate ?
The question of truth, beauty and goodness is an issue that has intrigued men for centuries. The pagan philosophers seek to identify what is true, good and beautiful. For the Christian, however, there can be no other answer than that which affirms that the Trinity God is the True, the Beautiful and the Good. By its very essence, God is the three. All the rest is only through participation. We can know because God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2500 tells us that "even before revealing ourselves to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to (man) through the universal language of the creation". Every creation reflects its creator; therefore, we can see something of beauty itself in creation. Truth, beauty and goodness, called "transcendental", can not be separated from each other because they form a unity as the Trinity is One. The truth is beautiful in itself. And goodness describes all that God has done. "God saw everything he had done and it was very good" (Gen.1: 31).
The man is the top of the Creator's work, as the scripture says by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of other creatures. . "God created man in his image …" (Genesis 1:27). Thus, not only has man been created good and beautiful, but he has also been established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation that surrounds him, in a state that does not would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ. . The inner harmony of the first man, the harmony between the first man and the first woman (Adam and Eve) and the harmony between the first couple and all the creation called "original justice ". All this harmony of original justice has been lost by the sin of our first parents. Created in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "deified" by God in glory. But he preferred God and disobeyed his orders.
Thus, Adam and Eve immediately lost the grace of original holiness and the harmony in which they had lived was destroyed. They have been separated from beauty itself. However, God did not give up humanity, which all share the sin of Adam, since "by the disobedience of a man, all became sinners" (Romans 5:12) . At the end of time, God sent His Son to restore what had been lost. The Son, who is "handsome above the sons of men", has come to restore us to beauty.
We now turn to beauty. Von Balthasar has already pointed out that when one seeks to attract others to God, one must start with beauty because beauty attracts. Beauty will then lead to truth and goodness. Therefore, if we want to start with beauty, we must know what it is. I will make a distinction between two types of beauty, even if only one of them is the beauty in the most real sense of the definition. There is an "alluring" beauty that is often reflected in our current culture. It would imply anything that attracts us to self-destruction (morally or spiritually). It takes us away from what we were created for, the union with beauty itself. I will return to this type of beauty, but first I want to establish a definition and an appropriate understanding of what is "true" beauty. It is first and foremost what attracts us to our true fulfillment and happiness. In his book The Beauty of Holiness and The Holiness of Beauty, John Saward, drawing inspiration from the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, defines beauty as follows: "the glow of the substantial or real form that the it is found in proportionate parts of a material object. "In other words, if it is possible to find beauty in the external appearance, one must go further in the nature or essence of the thing. .
"Thus, in a material substance (such as man), there is beauty when a thing shines clearly by its outward appearance." It can be said that the beauty of his soul shines through the face of a person. For this to happen, three things are needed: holiness (integrity), proportion due (harmony), and radiance (clarity). It is important to note that this definition encompasses the fact that beauty is a reality in itself. This is not something we produce when looking at an artwork or other thing that draws us. On the contrary, beauty radiates from what we see. He shines because he participates in beauty itself. As far as Jesus is concerned, "the Christian tradition – from Augustin and Hilary to Peter Lombard, Albert, Thomas and Bonaventure – maintains that beauty can appropriately appropriate the Second Person …"
. Thomas says that the three marks of beauty are in Jesus. The radiance is in him because he is the Word of the Father and the Word eternally pronounced by the Father expresses it completely and perfectly. It is the clarity of the Father's spirit. The right proportion is in the Son of God, for He is the perfect image of the Father. As a perfect picture, he is divine beauty. Jesus has fullness because he has in him the whole nature of the Father. In engendering the Son, the Father communicates all his divine essence. Thus, we have a divine person, God the Son, who, without ceasing to be the true God, was made true man for us in the belly of the Virgin. When we see the Virgin and the Child, we see a witness of the Trinity. Pope John Paul II explains that this image of the mother and the child "constitutes a silent but firm declaration of the virgin maternity of Mary and, for this very reason, of the divinity of the Son."
It is as such a witness of the Trinity that allows Mary a privileged place in relation to the true, the good and the beautiful. The Blessed Virgin, said John Lydgate, poet of the fifteenth century, is the "most beautiful mother of all time". Many poets and artists have sought to express their praise and admiration for Her who is so closely united to the Godhead. When Dante reaches heaven, he finds the beauty of the Son of God perfectly reflected in Mary, from whom he was born. Thus, we will see how Mary should be for all, but especially for women, a model of true beauty, and therefore of goodness and truth, reflecting a sharing of the life of the Trinity. "All the beauty for the soul and the body that the Son of God brought to the world, all the beauty that he wanted to lavish on humanity is summed up and is mediated by the person of his always virgin Mother ", a woman clothed in the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev. 12: 1). If there is beauty, it is here. "
To understand Mary's beauty, one must know the gifts bestowed upon her and her response to these gifts, which put her in touch intimate with Beauty, itself: Scripture, the revealed Word of God, tells us that "an angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, in a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. .. and the name of the virgin was Mary. And he (the angel) approached her and said: "Hi, full of grace, the Lord is with you! … Do not be afraid of Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your belly and have a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and called the Son of the Most High … And Mary says, "How can it be if I do not have a husband?" And the angel said to him, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, which is why the unborn will be called holy, the Son." of God." … And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word." "(Luke 1: 26-38).
To become the mother of the child Savior, Mary received the necessary and worthy gifts. Mary was welcomed as" full of grace "as if it were his real name.A name expresses the identity of a person." Full of grace "is the essence of Mary, her identity and the meaning of her life Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her, and the grace with which she is fulfilled is the presence of the One who is the source of all grace, and she is delivered to him who came to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world, she is, by a singular grace, free from all sins of sin because of the merits of her Son, she has the harmony lost by Adam, so she has the first two qualities of beauty: reason due (harmony) and integrity because, by the merits of his Son and the fullness of grace that has been given to him, his nature is complete – not bland tried and undefiled by sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that "Mary, the most holy Mother of God ever virgin, is the masterpiece of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in fullness times … In it, the wonders of God that the Spirit was to perform in Christ and in the Church began to manifest. " Through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, "the objects of the merciful love of God, to communion with Christ"
. Grace has been described as "the best beauty of God, the splendor of the soul". And Mary, full of grace, radiates this splendor, this spiritual beauty. Grace (sanctifying grace) gives us a share in the divine life; He conforms our souls to the likeness of Christ. Mary in her abundance of grace is a reflected beauty of her Son. She possesses the "radiance" which is the third of the qualities of beauty. The great Saint Bernard of Clairvaux declares that "to contemplate the face of the mother is the best way to prepare to see the glorious face of the Son". Saward agrees with this idea by emphasizing the fact that Our Lord is conceived by the Holy Spirit without seed, so there is only one human person to whom he resembles in his humanity, and that is only one human being. is his Virgin Mother.
How does the beauty of Mary enable women today to be an image of true beauty, and therefore of truth and goodness too? Mary, Theotokos – the mother of God, the mother of infinite beauty, who is herself beautiful, will guide women to what is true and good. It shows the lie of "seductive beauty", which we have noted above as being what draws us into our desire to destroy ourselves (morally or spiritually), by opposing its own "true" beauty. Before showing the essence of Mary's beauty, which meets St. Thomas's requirements for beauty: integrity, fairness and brilliance, we will examine the claims of society in matters of feminine beauty. Society today says to women that what is good and beautiful is what is glamorous and alluring. Beauty is separated from God, who is ignored and whose goodness is exchanged for a "basic spirit and improper conduct" (Romans 1:28), leading to a dissolution both spiritual and often physical. The "truth" that is taught to them is that which "considers the human being (and therefore the woman) not as a person, but as something, as an object of commerce, at the service of selfish interest. and the simple pleasure … this lie produces fruits as bitter as the contempt of men and women, slavery, the oppression of the weak, pornography, prostitution … "
So Beauty is often considered a mere physical quality. This lacks "fair proportion" because we only consider one aspect of the person. The company puts the emphasis on the physical to the exclusion of the spiritual. Starting from this same type of mentality, we find that women are more honored for their work outside the home than for their work in the family. What is "considered" as attractive is a woman capable of succeeding the "good" of a successful career that promises happiness and "equality with men". To do this, women often give up their femininity or become a mere imitation of the male role. In a sense, they negotiate the quality of "integrity", which is necessary for true beauty, for the limited claim of beauty to society. This "seductive beauty" that promises so much "good" gives rise to a hedonism that deforms and falsifies human sexuality and the true dignity of the human person. This not only leads to a lack of respect for what a woman should be, since the truth about their personal dignity as a person created and redeemed by God is unknown, but it also prevents women from reaching "fullness". of grace "for which they were created. This leads to the spiritual destruction of women because they do not lead a life of grace. They do not live for God.
Mary, who led a life full of grace, is however the model of the redeemed woman. God himself "manifests the dignity of woman in the highest possible form by assuming the human flesh of the Virgin Mary, which the Church honors as the Mother of God". The highest elevation of human nature took place in the male gender, when Jesus, the Son of God, became man and man. The highest elevation of the human person has taken place in the feminine gender, in the Virgin Mary. His divine maternity gives him an exalted dignity. She is "blessed among women". Therefore, every woman shares her blessing and makes her radiant. "When the Virgin Mary is honorably honored for the sake of her Son, women will be honored … for she has revealed the true beauty of femininity."
Looking at what we have already said about Mary, we know that "it is complete" of grace "reveals its essence, its identity.This is also the key to its reflection of the true , good and beautiful.It is the key for women to discover the truth of their own dignity and thus get the divine life offered to them through a life of grace.C & # 39; is a life that will give them true goodness and beauty, which is a participation in the beauty of the Creator.
Because Mary is "full of grace," she possesses the totality lost by Adam. grace, it is "radiant as the sun", showing in itself the clarity of a life united to God.This union is reflected in the actions of a person, actions that reflect the goodness of God "The practice of the good accompanies a spontaneous spiritual joy and a moral beauty" (CCC 2500). s, "are acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by perseverance always renewed by repeated efforts, are purified and elevated by divine grace" (CCC1810). Grace affects all dimensions of a person's life. It is a gift from God that brings us closer to God. The closer we are to God, the more we reflect the One who is Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
Mary is presented to us as the model of the life of virtue. She is a guide to living a life of faithfulness to grace. Because of the lack of space, I will only briefly look at three of the virtues that Mary possesses and calls us to imitate. They are faith, obedience and charity. The Church salutes Mary as "an excellent example of faith and charity" (Lumen Gentium 53). We see her faith when she confides freely to God during the Annunciation, believing and trusting in the angel's message that the son who would be born to her would be the Son of the Most High, certain that "nothing is impossible with God" Lk. 1:30). His path of faith continues to respond to what is happening in his life of union with Jesus. She fled to Egypt when he was ordered to Joseph to go there (Mt 2: 13-15); she returns in the same way (Mt 2: 19-23); and she perseveres faithfully in her union with her Son to the cross (LG # 58, Jn.19: 25-27), while believing and trusting the wisdom of God's divine plan. She believed that her Son, though crucified and buried, would be resurrected. She waited in prayer (Acts 1:14). We, too, are called to be women of faith, believing what God has revealed concerning His plan for us and our salvation.
Based on Mary's deep faith, she shows her loving obedience. It was not a servile obedience. It was rather an obedience that stemmed from humility. She knew the wisdom and greatness of God and therefore sought to live there. Being obedient to God meant responding with confidence to his wise plan. Again, at the Annunciation, she responds with obedience to the angel: "Let it be done to me as you say" (Luke 1:36). She obediently follows the instructions given by the angel to Joseph, trusting in God. Mary has remained obedient to her role as a mother, even at the cross, where she docilely offers the full consent of her intelligence and will to the one whose ways are impenetrable. In seeking to imitate the obedience of Mary, we will discover that she frees us from the bondage of sin. Obedience makes us beautiful because it opens us to the grace of God, to his life and to his love in us.
The faith and obedience of Mary allow her great charity to shine through. Mary, the Mother of Beloved, has a humiliating love, innocent of all narcissism. "It is for Christ and for the glory of the Father, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, that our Lady is" all beautiful "." She consecrates herself "totally as a servant of the Lord to the person and to the work of her Son … she does it freely" (LG # 56). This acceptance of her role as "Mother of the Son of God (is) guided by conjugal love, the love that totally consecrates the human being to God." By virtue of this love, Mary wanted to be always and in all things given to God. "This love which remains faithful to his Son throughout his life, including up to his cruel death on Calvary, extends to the brothers of his Son, these souls still traveling on earth (see 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 together in perfect harmony" (Col. 3:14), one of the aspects of beauty.
These virtues and the life of grace are possible for all women who seek to know the truth and to use the grace that comes from the merits of Jesus Christ, who has come to restore to humanity the beauty of children adopted and "participants in the divine nature" (1 Pt 1: 3). St. Francis de Sales notes that, thanks to grace, we are so similar to Christ that we are perfectly like God, because in becoming a man, Jesus took our likeness and gave us his. We must therefore do everything in our power to preserve the beauty and divine likeness that he has restored to us.
Mary helps women to do it. Its beauty attracts, and because it attracts, it leads us to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn.14: 6). Mary is loved and honored because she reflects the truth, the beauty and the goodness of her Son by her actions, by her life of virtue. His role is to lead others to him and to the truth that he teaches and what he is. This is seen by looking again at how creation reflects the beauty of God. All that God creates is good; It's beautiful. Jesus, who is the fullness of revelation, has elevated creation to even greater dignity by restoring all things "according to the plan that God wanted to make in Christ." A plan to be realized in Christ, in the fulness of time, for bring all things into one in Him, in heaven, and on earth "(Eph 1: 9-10). Thus, harmony is restored, everything is healed and its glory is known. Because "the Word is made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, we have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father" (Jn 1:14)
L & # 39, man was created in the image and likeness of God; Jesus renewed humanity to his immortal image. He restored us to the likeness of God. Mary reflects the beauty of her Son in her very essence. Mary is the one who, in cooperation with her Divine Son, will 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 this kindness that comes of God alone. The women, to reach this ideal, must turn to Mary as a model who has been chosen by God from all eternity to be the mother of his son and to guide us on our journey to the true, the good and the beautiful, our true fulfillment and happiness. Women should confide in Mary's advice because she is already what they are called to be: full of grace. While the Church prays in the Divine Liturgy: Lord, as we honor the glorious remembrance of the Virgin Mary, we ask that with the help of her prayers, we also be able to share the fullness of your grace, "so that by this grace we too can reflect on what is True, Beautiful, and Good."