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Cultivating a sense of beauty

刊登日期: 2013.11.24
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  


 Last t ime, we considered the proper informing of our conscience. There is a part of it, it seems to me, to have been taken for granted and not fully appreciated. Our conscience has to have a sense of beauty. 

There is something about us that beauty uplifts and ugliness pulls down. By that I do not only mean art work or music. I mean that if the environment around us tends to be sloppy and ugly, we act that way too. A person not paying attention to his grooming has the tendency to act poorly. (This is a partial reason why people do not appreciate going to Mass if they dress poorly for church.) 

When I was in the seminary, it was the first time that a professor talked about cultivating the sense of beauty in a class on spirituality. He said that most sincere and eager seminarians think that all they should be reading are the Bible, books on theology and prayer and lives of saints. He said that they are important and indispensible sources for our growing close to God. But, he said, we must also feed our minds and our souls with beauty. 

Feeding our minds. He said that, to the extent we are capable, we should explore all our minds can handle in terms of the world around us. Some should take the time to continue to study science, others may pursue architecture. Since my university training was in computer engineering, I still read books on the subject and play around with the newest gadgets just to keep up with the technological advances. 

Many of my priest friends studied science and engineering in university and through their studies became at awe with the god of science. Many people have the idea that priests are not science oriented or even incapable of understanding science. 

In fact, if we look into the history of science and lives of scientists, we would find many priests among them, including Fr. George LaMaitre who inspired the term Big Bang, Fr. Gregor Mendel the father of modern genetics that led to the discovery of DNA, Bishop Nicholas Steno was a pioneer in the field of geology and many others. 

Feeding our hearts. Here he directed us toward cultivating the arts in all forms: music, literature, paintings, photography, etc. Our minds need to have a natural sense of beauty to invigorate our hearts. When we listen to good music, our whole person is elevated. This does not mean only classical music. To be honest, most classical music put me to sleep. That might be a good thing too. But I personally prefer vocal music. There is something about four part harmony that gets me to want to sing along, except, of course, Peking opera. That is why the Psalms are so wonderful. They are such beautiful poetry. Actually they should be sung. That is why they use monastic chant in movies if they want to portray some form of spirituality or religiosity in the scene. 

O n e a r e a o f exploration of the heart is the art of cooking. A priest professor does just that. He has a cooking show on TV! The most famous of scientists that inspire g re a t e m o t i o n s i s probably Dom Pérignon. He was a Benedictine monk who gave us champagne, a bubbly wine that is indispensible at feasts and celebrations such as weddings. 

God is the god of beauty. Wherever there is beauty, we see God. He is romantic and wants to speak to our hearts. 

Let the symphony of God’s creation lead you to sing from the bottom of your heart. 





Correction to: the article Moral Quicksand on the issue of November 10, 2013. 

The name of the dynasty cited on line 2, para. 5 should be Qing. It was published incorrectly as Qin in the above-mentioned article. The editor sincerely thanks for the inquiry from reader Ms. Marie Lam and apologizes for this error and any confusion caused.


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