”In the Eye of the Beholder? What is Beauty and Why Should We Care?”


Beauty is, “that which being seen pleases” –St. Thomas Aquinas

-“everything possesses beauty”

– “beauty is something that is detected at a first glance. Something that the soul, remembering, names. Recognizes.”

-“our soul gives welcome to it and in a way fuses to it. When the soul sees something beautiful, it becomes more beautiful”

-Beauty shows us who we are, where we come from, and what we are destined for

* a joyful pain

Truth, goodness, and beauty- our minds want truth, our wills want goodness, our feelings want beauty à we will never grow bored with these

– all that exists is true, good & beautiful

– “The good, taken separately from truth and beauty, is only an indistinct feeling, a powerless upwelling;

truth taken abstractly is an empty word;

and beauty without truth and the good is an idol.”

“…beauty is the same good and the same truth, corporeally embodied in solid living form” (Vladimir Soloviev, The Heart of Reality, trans V. Wozniuk, p. 16)

Every beauty is in “some unique way like He who made it”

–      “the most beautiful thing in the world is perfect goodness”, holiness

  the most beautiful sight that ever existed is Christ

“holiness is irresistible”…

“the saint is the most beautiful thing on this earth”


– “one simple way to become a saint is to see the beauty of God”…

There is no sin in heaven: “In the beatific vision, we will see the beauty of God so clearly, so overwhelmingly, that it will be impossible to sin”

Nature, Art, Poetry & Music:

– “The beauties of nature are a secret that God has shared with us alone” (C.S. Lewis)

– “Art is like God’s perfume”….icons

– “Art for art’s sake is not only idolatry, but fatal to art”, “put goodness above beauty, and beauty flourishes”

–  “Poetry…emboldens the soul to accept mystery” (Keats)

– Story of Russian Emperor:

Catholic Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Church, Judaism- went to services of each

Went to Eastern Orthodox Service and said “My soul went to heaven. Russia will be orthodox”

*** This is “why liturgical defamation is so destructive…” The liturgy is  God’s work of art



Journal entry: October, 2011

         “I bet when God looks at us enjoying the beautiful things He created, He smiles. Just as a painter enjoys the praise of another pondering his masterpiece- enjoying it- allowing its beauty to move him- allowing a part of his creation, the stuff of his deepest deep, to seep into another’s. the artist became a part of his admirer that day, even though the observer did not seek the painter’s signature at the bottom of the painting.”



Beauty of the human body/attractiveness of the opposite sex:

The Husband Must Desire His Wife’s Beauty: (TOB Explained, Christopher

West, p.397)

“If we are to understand beauty and attractiveness in its proper perspective, we must listen to that “echo” of God’s original plan still deep within us; we must recognize the distortions of sin; and we must trust in the power of redemption to restore holiness in our lived experience of the body.” (West, 397)

“Love binds the bridegroom…to be concerned for the good of the bride; it commits him to desire her beauty and at the same time to sense this beauty and care for it” (TOB 92:4)

“In appreciating the beauty of Eve’s body, Adam was not seeking his own gratification in any selfish or grasping way. He certainly took delight in her. But, without the least tinge of lust, he would have appreciated her beauty as a person created for “her own sake”. He would have seen woman’s beauty as a marvel and image of God’s beauty.” (West, 397-398)

Christopher West’s story:

“Several years ago, during a Mass at the

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I noticed a very beautiful woman sitting a few pews ahead of me. At one point she casually flipped her red hair over her shoulder. Whoa! This gesture tapped into some deep well in my soul. It captured all that was so beautifully “feminine” about her. Lord, what was that”? I prayed. Rather than repress the stirrings of my heart, I surrendered them to Christ so he could purify them and show me their true meaning. As I prayed, it dawned on me that the beauty of woman—if we have the purity to see it—lies in her being a living, incarnate symbol of heaven…”

“…This is what purity of heart affords and how grace reorients us when we let it. The deepest truth of my attraction to this woman confirmed my desire for heaven” (388-389).


Counterfeits of Beauty:


Of truth, goodness and beauty, “beauty has the greatest power over our souls”

“If beauty didn’t move us more than goodness, temptation would be impossible”

– temptation always needs the attractiveness of beauty to tempt (the worm on the hook)

> Why most addictions come from something which appears beautiful

–      Gollum’s ring

–      False mysticism in drugs

–      False love which is counterfeit of married love (without truth) (Kreeft)

“Beauty withers when we worship it as the absolute”

“Beauty is not the absolute but points beyond itself”

– “Beauty without the truth and the good is an idol” (Soloviev)


“chastity most of all makes one apt for the contemplation of truth, since venereal pleasure most of all weigh the mind down”


Journal entry: Jan. 2011


There was a part in the book Bel Canto where Ann Patchett talks about one of the soldiers and the music. His reaction to the music was turned into a vulgar indulgence…I hated that page. I hated that excerpt. What recollections of beauty from that book I had cherished were dominated at that point by a toxic, taintedness.

Because by wanting to take beauty for himself in that way, he had stripped beauty of its purity, and thus its uttermost origins. By hunting beauty in the manner he had, he had destroyed beauty’s compelling fragrance. His very intentions- poisoning what could save him.

         I think about beauty often. Her catching force- purity. And how we, in our most sinful state, are still touched by her. But we reach for her with our own hands- loudly- or subtly- like De Daumier-Smith? Trying to make her our own. I think to myself even…hunting beauty. Do I hunt her consolations? Or if I live inside her embrace long enough, will I see God’s face?”


– we must look along beauty, not at beauty…follow it as a finger which points


How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul excerpt (Jason and Crystalina Evert):


…Anorexia, bulimia, cutting, sexual abuse, STDs, chemical contraception, abortion, degradation through pornography, prostitution and the sex trade, obsessive cosmetic surgery, and so on. Why is it that all these things affect women far more than men? Why are the threats against the woman’s body so insidious?

One gentleman in his twenties emailed us a letter he wrote for women, praising their goodness and beauty. In it, he offered an insightful explanation of why hell seems so hell-bent on destroying the woman:

…Satan attacks most viciously that which has the greatest ability to lead us to God. I hope you know that he fears your beauty. He knows it can lead people to God, who is the fulfillment and source of all beauty. And if you believe that he was once the angel of light surpassing all  others in beauty, then you should realize that you are the image to him of everything that he lost. He has taken aim at your beauty and has set his plan to ruin God’s plan for it…

The devil knows the untapped potential of every woman to lead souls to God. Because he fears your beauty, he’ll seek either to destroy it, or to hide it from you. Heaven and Hell understand the value of your body and power of your beauty. Do you?” (p. 198)


Blessed Mother- “Without a doubt, this woman is the most beautiful creature God has ever created” (West, 400)



“we want to be united to the beauty we see…bathe in it”

–      we shall someday pass into that splendor she reflects

Journal entry: July, 2011

Perhaps, we need to allow Beauty her free will as well. She cannot be captured and kept. But perhaps exists to be celebrated and lived alongside. To be laughed with. To be caressed, not with the greedy fixation on immediate satiation, but to be beheld with the detached patience of love spent in time”

“Beauty is a mystery that can only be participated in”…we can’t come to the end of mysteries, because we are in them

** Dostoevsky said that, “Beauty will save the world”

>For what of this earth is not beautiful, and what being is incapable of experiencing beauty?

        Beauty leaves no soul untouched

** we eat and drink God’s truth, goodness and beauty at every Mass


BONUS thought =) …on suffering

“The cross itself is not beautiful. It is ugly. But the embracing of that cross by supreme love is supremely beautiful” (Kreeft)

* Note: Anything below which is has quotes surrounding it is taken from Peter Kreeft’s talks on “Good, True, Beautiful” and “Beauty”, unless otherwise specified


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