Fragments of Light

Struck by Beauty

“When men have a longing so great that it surpasses human nature and eagerly desire and are able to accomplish things beyond human thought, it is the Bridegroom who has smitten them with this longing. It is he who has sent a ray of his beauty into their eyes. The greatness of the wound already shows the arrow which has struck home, the longing indicates who has inflicted the wound”
—​Nicholas Cabasilas​ (1320-1390) ​“The Life in Christ” ​quoted ​​in “The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty,” Message of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the Communion and Liberation Meeting at Rimini (24-30 August, 2002 )

In his thoughts on contemplating beauty the then Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to say: “The beautiful wounds, but this is exactly how it summons man to his final destiny. . . . The beautiful is knowledge certainly, but, in a superior form, since it arouses man to the real greatness of the truth. Here Cabasilas has remained entirely Greek, since he puts knowledge first when he says, ‘In fact it is knowing that causes love and gives birth to it.’ ”

(. . . )

“Being struck and overcome by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction. Of course we must not underrate the importance of theological reflection, of exact and precise theological thought; it remains absolutely necessary. But to move from here to disdain or to reject the impact produced by the response of the heart in the encounter with beauty as a true form of knowledge would impoverish us and dry up our faith and our theology. We must rediscover this form of knowledge; it is a pressing need of our time.”

Artists whose work is concerned with truth offer us avenues into reality where we may know in this life the impact of the Beauty we can not yet see face to face.

​Comments welcome.​

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