by Michael Podrebarac
It seems the most profound things come in threes.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: one God, three divine persons. Faith, hope and love: the three things, which, in the end, remain. The body, the mind and the soul: the threefold essential makeup of the human person. The will, the intellect and the passions: the three things which each of us must continually calibrate as we strive for holiness.
And then there are these three: truth, goodness and beauty: the three great principles of our holy, Catholic faith. They are said to be the three fundamental qualities of God himself.
These realities transcend time and place, and are rooted in God’s very being. And because we are created in the image of God, they are also the ultimate objectives of the human person. They are the font and fulfillments of humanity’s adoration of the divine.
That same adoration of the living God is the first of the so-called “four ends” of the apex of the sacred liturgy, the holy Mass.
Which means that each must be present when we come together to offer our worship and praise through the church’s sacred rites. It’s not enough only to believe, for “even the demons believe — and shudder” (Jas 2:19). Neither is it sufficient to merely be good, “lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:9).
No, the God of supreme beauty cannot be properly adored in the manner truly capable of humanity unless beauty is also present. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” (Ps 84:1). Why would we settle for, or offer, anything less?
Earthly beauty reflects divine beauty. And since God himself draws each of us into communion with him, it follows that beauty itself has the capacity to draw people to God and neighbor. Mere functionalism draws only the functional to itself. Sentimentality only cultivates sentiment. The shallow and the trite will sow only their own seeds in us as well.
Beauty alone begets beauty.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are coequal and coeternal, a triune communion of giving and receiving. So also are truth, goodness and beauty, affording both gift and reception within earth’s sacred precincts.
We have been given all the truth needed to effectively proclaim the Gospel. We have been endowed with all the goodness necessary to do God’s will. And we have been given all the talent required to reflect the divine beauty within and among us.
The question remains as to whether or not we possess the commitment to confront ourselves, and the world, with God’s truth, God’s goodness and God’s beauty, or merely settle for the functional, the sentimental, the shallow and trite.
The choice is ours.