A brief email conversation with a friend a couple of days ago got me thinking about beauty.
It is commonly commented that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but certainly the human eye (and mind and heart) can be formed to appreciate beauty. Beauty is an objective reality. The ancients knew this and since antiquity goodness, truth and beauty have been considered to be the three great transcendentals.
Many of our little churches of the Good Shepherd Hurunui parish have beautiful stained glass windows. They were placed in these beautiful churches by people who knew the importance of beauty in the life of weekly worshippers. A few years ago Pope Benedict was in the United States and took the opportunity when in St. Patrick’s Cathedral New York to reflect on the beauty and symbolism of stained glass:
“…stained glass windows, … flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor… It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.” Pope Benedict, April 2008, New York.
In this brief video clip, architectural theologian Denis McNamara reflects on the beauty of the stunningly beautiful San Chapelle in Paris.