A new chapel was opened in the Redemptoris
Mater Seminary in Perth Australia. It was
built with taste. Everything about it speaks
of beauty. Many people went to visit and
pray in the chapel over these last few months.
One visitor was a nine year old girl who
came with her uncle. She is not baptized.
When she saw the chapel, she ran to her uncle
and said: "Come and see the most beautiful
room I have ever seen in my life! I wonder
who lives in it."
This little child spontaneously connected
beauty with a person. But who is this person?
This person, as the Russian novelist Fyodor
Dostoyevsky unequivocally points out is Jesus
Christ. "The world will be saved by
beauty," he wrote rather enigmatically
in his book The Idiot, and then he added,
"...and the beauty is Christ."
Jesus Christ is beautiful. The Church applies
to Him the words of the psalmist, "You
are the fairest of the children of men and
grace is poured upon your lips."
And yet the Church does not hesitate to apply
also to Jesus Christ the words of the prophet
Isaiah 53:2: "He had neither beauty,
no majesty, nothing to attract our eyes,
no grace to make us delight in him."
"How can we reconcile this?" asks
the then Cardinal Ratzinger in a message
entitled 'The contemplation of Beauty' that
he wrote in 2002. This is paradoxical but
all of us should know that a paradox is a
contrast and not a contradiction.
Beauty cannot be separated from truth and
goodness. The beauty that is Christ, is not
the superficial cosmetic prettiness that
forgets conveniently pain and suffering.
It is neither skin beauty - an ephemeral
craze that gradually fades away with age.
As Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Beauty is not
in the face; beauty is a light in the heart".
Beauty is the gift of God. It expresses a
new life that sprouts from the person of
the risen Christ in whom death has been overcome.
It embraces offence, pain, and even the dark
mystery of death and somehow rises above
The Rabbis says that when the people of God
arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai, they
were filled with diseases, ugliness, and
defects caused by sin and slavery. However
there happened an event. God married a people,
a marriage that caused a regeneration. The
people recuperated the original beauty of
Adam and Eve. "The blind regained their
sight, the lame could walk, the lepers were
healed, the deaf could hear once more…"
It was fashionable at one stage to state
that after Auschwitz, we cannot write any
more poetry, we cannot possibly speak of
a God who is good. Recently, people wondered:
Where was God when the tsunami hit so many
We know the answer. God is in the suffering,
transforming it. "The One who is the
Beauty itself let himself be slapped in the
face, spat upon, crowned with thorns; the
Shroud of Turin can help us imagine this
in a realistic way", commented the Pope
in this message of 2002.
The truth of the matter is that "in
his Face that is so disfigured, there appears
the genuine, extreme beauty: the beauty of
love that goes "to the very end";
for this reason it is revealed as greater
than falsehood and violence."
Yes, Jesus Christ is beautiful. And anyone
who rubs with Him becomes as beautiful. I
know. I have seen it in teenagers who living
a life of familiarity with Jesus Christ,
are just gorgeous! I have seen beauty in
hospital beds when people embrace the will
of God even if this means horrific pain.
I have seen it in married couples who, when
confronted with a serious cross in their
lives, did not react negatively. I have seen
it in the eyes of religious nuns who live
their consecrated lives with simplicity and
"If we know him, not only in words,
but if we are struck by the arrow of his
paradoxical beauty, then we will truly know
him, and know him not only because we have
heard others speak about him. Then we will
have found the beauty of Truth, of the Truth
Today this becomes even more apparent in
a Christian community. The beauty of the
life of a Christian community where people
live in unity and love one another with a
forgiveness that is bigger than death makes
the risen Christ present today. So whoever
sees the Christian community, where the love
to the enemy appears, sees the true icon
In the course of history, the Church has
always perceived this bond between beauty
and evangelization. The Church along the
centuries has been the greatest producer
of beauty… liturgy, icons, music, churches,
paintings, Gregorian chant, hospitals, schools,
virtue, lives of saints… Many fail to recognize
this but facts are facts.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson recommended, "Never
lose an opportunity of seeing anything that
is beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting
-- a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every
fair face, in every fair sky, in every flower,
and thank God for it as a cup of blessing."
Welcome it also in the Church. May the beauty
we love become what we do.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright