Life and Beauty

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Osamu Takeuchi |

Why do human beings seek beauty? The motive behind this quest is the fact that life has an inborn yearning for beauty, for it is there one finds genuine peace. Furthermore, there is an order in the basis of being beautiful. This beauty does not merely refer to something appealing to the eye. Rather, it is nothing other than the elegance one encounters in harmony, a harmony comprised of truth, goodness, and beauty.

 Beauty in order

            There is an order in the basis of all beautiful things. This beauty is, as it were a form of concord, that is to say, serenity in the individual and peace within the community and society. According to St. Augustine, peace is tranquility of an order (tranquillitas ordinis). That is to say, where there is order, there must be tranquility. This is the essence of peace. Hence, if we wish to realize peace, we need to first orchestrate the serenity within our hearts, and then aim at creating peace within our community and society.

 Beyond beauty in nature

            The Japanese to be sure possess like all others, a distinctive sense of beauty, a beauty undoubtedly inspired by their country’s natural and cultural ambience. The transition of the four seasons in particular exerts upon people a genuine sway, and it has often been said that while Japanese on the one hand are capable of apprehending pale and delicate beauty, yet on the other, they are found to be lacking in logical thinking, and even more at seeking a reason for things. Accordingly, one may perhaps say that few fail to acquire a sincere grasp of the theory of creation, as narrated in Scripture (cf. Wis 13:1-9).

Beauty in oikonomia

            Oikonomia is an expression composed of oikos (house) and nemo (manage). Hence, it has been said that this word originally referred to the work of a seneschal or property manager. However, in course of time it came to be transformed into a word possessed of an exclusive significance, to be precise, the working of God’s salvation, which is realized via the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is described concisely in the following words:

[I]f, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, [namely, that] the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier. When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light [for all] what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things (Eph 3:2-9).

            The plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things (oikonomia tou mysteriou) — this directly expresses the beauty of God, who grants life to everything.

Comments

  1. David DeCosse's avatar
    David DeCosse
    | Permalink
    Thank you so much as always for your reflection here, Osama. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. I'm struck in what you say by a sort of tension in beauty in terms of the mystery of salvation. On one hand, beauty apart from the Cross somehow seems too easy and purely philosophical. On the other hand, seeing beauty in the Cross can also seem too easy: We throw a flower on the cross and pretend that pain and loss are not really pain and loss. Perhaps this all turns me even more toward grace as the singular, great, beautifying force propelling along the whole mystery of salvation. It also brings to mind a verse from a poem called "Nightclub" by the American poet Billy Collins in which he hints at some force in the world making even our pain beautiful:

    “We are all so foolish,
    my long bebop solo begins by saying,
    so damn foolish
    we have become beautiful without even knowing it.”
  2. Mikael Migu Soge's avatar
    Mikael Migu Soge
    | Permalink
    Thanks Osamu for your beautiful exploration on the beautifulness of life. Especially, you ended your remarks on the oikonomia tou mysteriou, where I think you provide a theological basis to be reflected further.

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