September 28, 2007

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Beauty will save the world

Sean GallagherWith October approaching, we’ll soon be entering that time of year when the beauty of God’s creation is most especially on display all around us.

Now the splendor of God can be found in one way or another during every season. But his blazing glory surrounds us at this time of year when he uses a broad palette of colors on the autumn leaves that fall at our feet.

I’ve heard few people say they dislike this season and a lot who say they appreciate the fall colors.

But it seems that it is easy for us to take it all for granted. This might especially be the case for busy parents.

Just as the leaves start to turn, the busyness of the school year starts to speed up. If we’re not taking children to and from school, we’re shuttling them to this or that sports practice or game or helping them with their homework.

Parish schedules also get jam-packed at this time of year with, among other things, religious education programs for young people as well as adults getting started.

So in our hurrying to and fro, we can easily scurry pass the beauty of God unaware.

Now, mind you, the things that make up the busy life of families that I’ve just described aren’t bad. Whether it’s in school work, extracurricular activities or parish programs, parents work hard to make sure that their children learn to know and choose what is good and to discern and embrace what is true.

God draws us all—children and adults alike—to himself in what is good and in what is true.

But he also attracts us in what is beautiful.

In fact, the human heart is sometimes softened to hard moral truths when we are able to appreciate their beauty.

Perhaps the more that we train the eye of our hearts to focus on the beauty of creation, the more our hearts will yearn for other forms of beauty.

We might gravitate toward humanly created beauty in music or various forms of art.

And all of this might then open us to the beauty that God has woven into human nature, into his design for marriage and the life of families, and into the brilliant web of love that he has willed for the millions of relationships that make up human society.

Whoa. This seems pretty big and idealistic to say the least.

But this noble edifice that the late Pope John Paul II called the “civilization of love” is built one brick at a time.

This construction project is under way right in the midst of our homes. (And if your home looks anything like mine, where three boys under age 6 live, it just might look like a construction zone.)

This can happen when parents and children slow down to pause and appreciate the beauty of the season.

It might be found in the falling leaves, in the squirrels who dart here and there searching for nuts, in that distinct aroma of burning leaves for those of you who live in the country, in fall mums or in bright orange pumpkins.

Take time to grow in your appreciation of what is beautiful and you’ll find it easier to help your children do the same.

The 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote that “beauty will save the world.”

All that is beautiful ultimately leads us to the source of that saving beauty, who is Christ. Help your children love what is beautiful and you’ll walk hand in hand with them to him.†

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