Finally to learn to see beauty means that even in the midst of pain or sorrow, we trust that God remains. If we truly trust in Jesus, we know that when we cannot see Him because our eyes are clouded over in pain, that He is with us no less, and is actually closer to us than ever before. Just as we cannot see our shadow when the sun is directly overhead, so it is with God. He is with us when we see Him the least. His presence does not change; it is simply that our ability to perceive has been compromised by the immensity of our burdens. And even when ugliness rears its head, attempting to cloud that which was made for us to enjoy, beauty, which is a sign of God’s presence, is still there. We simply need to remember what it looks like and trust, therefore, that God is with us.
May we seek and find the beauty of Jesus surrounding us at every moment of every day! May we have hearts abounding in gratitude and thus be filled with joy! May we learn to ‘put on contemplativity,’ the attitude of savoring that which is in the present moment! May we learn to appreciate the presence of God in the midst of the extravagance of nature and in the beauty of others! And may we be able to interpret that which is beautiful in the gifts of Word, Sacrament, and all the ways God comes to us in love and mercy! Let us continue to meet in the heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
NOTE: I will be slowing down on my entries, only posting every other week for the most part. Therefore, the next post will be on August 1. You can check here frequently if you choose, though if you have previously subscribed you will get the notification as usual. You can always follow my blog page via Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/MicheleLCataneseBlog/ Finally, in between postings you can read older ones in the archives which are found on the right side of this page and are always accessible. Thank you for your faithfulness in reading. I appreciate your feedback more than you can know.
The first photo is a NASA photo of the stars as seen in the Northern Hemisphere; it is part of the Milky Way.
Second is one of my photos. I took this on Copper Mountain in Colorado. I chose this because it was a scene of beauty which struck me greatly at the time. Though it was July when this was taken, in the background one can see snow on the mountains, yet in the foreground are many wildflowers. It was as if the seasons were blending together to create a place of peace.
Next is a painting by the impressionist (and later pointillist) artist, Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). The painting is called Fields, though the original title was Les seigles Pontoise. Pissarro was a member of the French impressionist group which included Monet, Cezanne, and Guillaumin. I chose this after poring over many of Pissarro's works because I felt like it captured a contemplative appreciation, and almost reverence, for beauty. It is a gentle scene, one which I find very peaceful: the grass, dotted with flowers, is swaying in the wind, the fields are going about their business of growing by soaking up the sun, and the clouds are floating in the sky. You can learn more about Pissarro by clicking here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Pissarro
Fourth is the Pieta sculpted by Michelangelo. It resides in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I chose it because I think (taste is subjective, of course) that this is the most beautiful sculpture in the world. It is a work of magnificence which can be best appreciated in person, though it is behind glass for safety. While I am not an expert on sculpture by any means, I find that this work evokes every emotion one could have, and I think the mystery contained in the act of Mary holding the body of her dead son Jesus is beyond words. One simply has to be quiet before this piece. There are no words, and therefore, it calls me to contemplation like few other works can.
Next is the icon, my favorite in the world, Mary Most Holy Mother of All Nations by Fr. William Hart McNichols. I see this icon daily since I have a print of it in my home. But every time I see her, I still have the same reaction: I get a little weak in the knees because she is so beautiful. It makes me long for the day when I will see Mary in Heaven, along with Jesus. Though she is no doubt even more beautiful than any artist can paint, for me, this icon is as close as I am going to get on earth to what she might really look like. Let me be clear: as much as I love the image of Mary, it is what she is 'doing' that speaks most of her beauty. She is cradling the earth, which so needs protection and cradling. Her love and intercession is obvious. She is safeguarding the work of the Holy Spirit, as seen by the tongues of fire surrounding the fragile planet. You can find the icon at the following link, http://fineartamerica.com/featured/mary-most-holy-mother-of-all-nations-080-william-hart-mcnichols.html. I highly recommend getting your own copy so that you can get a bit weak in the knees, too. You can get a card, a copy in varying sizes, or a plaque.
The last photo is one of mine, taken on Fire Island, a barrier island just off the coast of Long Island, NY. I have always found the ocean to be a place of prayer. The ocean is where I put on my contemplativity most easily of all places in nature. I chose this photo because it captures the vivid colors and incredible life of the water, sand, and sky. ~ For this entry, I chose places and artwork in which I have learned to see beauty and thus, to see the hand of God. I recommend that you find your own place of beauty and then put on your own contemplativity.