Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thoughts on Beauty

This weekend has been a fantastic one! My sister graduated on Friday. My friends got married on Saturday, where I attended my first Catholic wedding... BEAUTIFUL! I spent some time with old friends from school and I picked up an old hobby, art. I'm practicing drawing portraits. It's extremely complicated! I was reminded of the beauty of classical music by an old friend, which brings me to the point of this blog.

Truth is beauty.

It's not necessarily the type of beauty we think of, but an incomprehensible beauty. My sister is growing up and going on to college. What a beautiful gift! We are so blessed in the US with so many opportunities. Two college friends got married on Saturday. I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful the ceremony was. Phenomenal sacrament that can only begin to be understood in the lens of divinity. The trinity coming down to unite two into one flesh... beautiful.

Classical music, while complicated and intricate, is beautiful. It may not be the catchy, cheap new type of music that pops up on the charts for a few weeks. It has a lasting beauty that is more fulfilling than an instant beat made with a computer and put rhyming lyrics. Don't get me wrong, I like the chart toppers now and again, but I feel at peace when listening to classical music. I feel a presence of the divine almost, a contemplative nature arises within.

The subject of my sketch work today has been the female portrait. I haven't moved to the male portrait yet. For some reason the female face contains much more beauty than the male... In order to draw a human face, one has to pay attention to every detail to transfer it to paper. There are a number of variables; the steadiness of the artist's hand, the understanding of the subject's character and contours, the medium, the tools. It makes the artist truly appreciate the intricacies of the human body.

During the classical era of Church architecture, the architects used the human body as the basis for their buildings because the human body is known as having the "Golden Ratio" or the most perfect form. This form is made in the image and likeness of God.

The last point in regards to beauty for this post is the message from today's readings; forgiveness. Another thing that is hard for human beings to understand, forgiveness, is not a foreign concept of our Savior. He came to save us, to wash away what we have done. He came to give us forgiveness, to share His mercy. What a beautiful thing!

The Way, the Truth, and the Life cares about us. Truth is beauty. Look for it in your daily lives and you will see that we live an extraordinary existence, not a mundane one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Site

Keep your eye peeled for a more comprehensive site that my friend is making for me. It will have more quotes, more blogs, videos, links, photos, and I will make it a point to keep it updated much more than this blog. It's going to look better and run smoother as well with fresh new music for you to listen to.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Story of St. Justin Martyr

All the voices around Justin clamored that they had the truth he sought so desperately. He had listened to them all since he first came to Rome to get his education. They each shouted that they held the one and only answer but he felt no closer to the truth than when he had started his studies. He had left the Stoic master behind but the Stoics valued discipline as truth and thought discussion of God unnecessary. He had rejected the Peripatetic who seemed more interested in money than discussion. The Pythagorean had rejected him because he didn’t know enough music and geometry — the things that would lead him to truth. He had found some joy with the Platonists because the contemplation of ideas gave wings to his mind, but they had promised wisdom would let him see God and so, where was God?
There was one place that Justin always escaped to in order to get away from these shouting, confusing voices and search out the quiet inner voice that led him to truth. This place was a lonely spot, a path that seemed made for him alone in a field by the sea. So sure was he of the isolation of his retreat that he was shocked one day to find an old man following him.
The old man was not searching for truth but for some of his family. Nonetheless they began a discussion in which Justin identified himself as a philologian, a lover of reason. The old man challenged him — why was he not a lover of truth, a lover of deeds. Justin told him that reason led to truth, and philosophy led to happiness. This was certainly an interesting thing for Justin to say since he had not found the truth in the study of reason or happiness in his quest among the philosophers! Perhaps the old man sensed this for he asked for Justin’s definition of philosophy and of happiness.
In the long discussion that followed, Justin spoke eloquently to the old man’s searching questions but even Justin had to admit that philosophers may talk about God but had never seen him, may discuss the soul but didn’t really know it. But if the philosophers whom Justin admired and followed couldn’t, then nobody could, right?
The old man told him about the ancient prophets, the Hebrew prophets, who had talked not of ideas but of what they had seen and heard, what they knew and experienced. And this was God. The old man ended the conversation by telling Justin to pray that the gates of light be opened to him.
Inflamed by this conversation, Justin sought out the Scriptures and came to love them. Christ words “possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them.”
Why hadn’t Justin known about Christianity before with as much as he had studied? He had heard about it, the way other pagans of second century Rome had, by the rumors and accusations that surrounded the persecution of Christians. The fearlessness of their actions made him doubt the gossip, but he had nothing else to go by. Christians at that time kept their beliefs secret. They were so afraid that outsiders would trample on their sacred faith and descrate their mysteries that they wouldn’t tell anyone about their beliefs — even to counteract outright lies. To be honest, there was good reason for their fears — many actors for example performed obscene parodies of Christian ritual for pagan audiences, for example.
But Justin believed differently. He had been one of those outsiders — not someone looking for trouble, but someone earnestly searching for the truth. The truth had been hidden from him by this fear of theirs. And he believed there were many others like him. He exhorted them that Christians had an obligation to speak of their faith, to witness to others about their faith and their mysteries.
So Justin took his newfound faith to the people. This layman became the first great apologist for Christianity and opened the gates of light for so many others. He explained baptism and Eucharist. He explained to the pagans why they didn’t worship idols and why that didn’t make them atheists. He explained to the Jews how Christians could worship the same God but not follow Jewish laws. He explained to the Greeks and the philosophers how philosophy did not take into account the dignity of humankind. He wrote long arguments known as apologies and traveled to other lands in order to debate publicly. His long education in philosophy and rhetoric gave him the skills he needed to match his oponents and the Holy Spirit gave him the rest.
It is not surprising that Justin was arrested during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius. Along with four others (Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus) he was brought before the Roman prefect, Rusticus, to be accused under the law that required sacrificing to idols. When Rusticus demanded that they “Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings,” Justin responded, “To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation.”
When Rusticus asked what doctrines he believed, Justin told him that he had learned all the doctrines available during his quest but finally submitted to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they didn’t please others. (An understatement when he was under danger of death!)
Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, “If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven?” Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.”
Justin and his fellow martyrs were beheaded in the year 165 and went to be with the Truth Justin had longed for all his life. He is often known as Justin Martyr and his works are still available.