Spiritual beauty of virtue and grace: Evidence for God’s existence

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Nothing in the material world comes close to the spiritual beauty of virtue and grace exemplified in the life of a dedicated person. The spiritual beauty reflected in the soul of a dedicated person is indeed one of the most compelling arguments for the existence of God.

Spiritual beauty is a quality acquired by the human soul when it reflects what God intended the soul to be. Spiritual beauty is the beauty of holiness.

The spiritual beauty of holiness is “a beauty which surpasses all-natural and artistic beauty; it is a supernatural beauty in which the beauty of God himself is reflected in a more essential and direct way than in any other created beauty.” (1)

The observation relevant to the existence of God here is the fact that, in man, the spiritual beauty of holiness is shaped by human action. There is a particular beauty springing from actions that involve self-denial and death to selfish desires.

Spiritual beauty is an inseparable component of morally good conduct and uprightness. And, contrariwise, morally bad conduct and wrongdoing are the negation of the spiritual beauty of holiness.

In this regard, the great Saint Thomas Aquinas remarks: “Spiritual beauty is the beauty of the soul. Thus, when the soul is defiled by sin, God is offended.” (2)

A Holy person is a Happy Person

There is no question that a holy person is a happy person. In fact, it is well known that the holier the person, the happier the person.

And here is where the truth of the existence of God reveals itself as being uniquely connected with the spiritual beauty of holiness granted to the soul of a dedicated person.

Consider the following: Man’s passions are so disordered that the rewards of happiness and spiritual beauty which morally upright conduct promises are not as immediately gratifying as what immoral conduct deceptively provides.

“A taxi driver, for example, tempted to cheat a naive foreigner may not believe at the moment that refraining from that action could be so integral to his lasting happiness and spiritual beauty.” (3)

Awareness of incentives

The awareness of incentives such as the benefits derived from treating others with solidarity, the concern for one’s true gain, and the forging of one’s true happiness through human actions are not sufficient motives to compel a man to act uprightly.

For this, something more is needed. For men to act uprightly, greater love and a greater fear are needed, namely, the love of God and the fear of God, the authority of God and the judgment of God.

Without God, the self-denial which characterizes the spiritual beauty of the soul of a dedicated person would not be practiced.

Thus, human activity seems to be charged with elements that are sufficiently mysterious to demonstrate the necessity of God if one is to cultivate the spiritual beauty of soul and upright conduct. In this respect, the testimony of the saints affords a primary source of evidence for the existence of God.

Here is how Pope John Paul II eloquently explains this:

“In the Old Testament, we already find admirable witnesses of fidelity to the holy law of God even to the point of a voluntary acceptance of death.

“A prime example is the story of Susanna. In reply to the two unjust judges who threatened to have her condemned to death if she refused to yield to their sinful passion, she says:

‘I am hemmed in on every side. For if I do this thing, it is death for me; and if I do not, I shall not escape your hands. I choose not to do it and to fall into your hands, rather than to sin in the sight of the Lord!’ (Dan 13:22-23).

“Susanna, preferring to ‘fall innocent’ into the hands of the judges, bears witness not only to her faith and trust in God but also to her obedience to the truth and to the absoluteness of the moral order.

“By her readiness to die a martyr, she proclaims that it is not right to do what God’s law qualifies as evil in order to draw some good from it. Susanna chose for herself the ‘better part.’ Hers was a perfectly clear witness, without any compromise, to the truth about the good and to the God of Israel.

“By her acts, Susanna revealed the holiness of God.” (4)

The spiritual beauty of holiness surpasses all-natural and artistic beauty.

The spiritual beauty of the soul of a dedicated person reflects the beauty of God himself in a more essential and direct way than any other created beauty.

The spiritual beauty associated with the actual practice of moral discipline and sanctity, the choices thereby involved, and the divine wisdom made visible in the persons committed to such way of living, are the premises of what has been described as “the most convincing demonstration” of the existence of God. (5)

Notes

(1) Pope John Paul II, “General Audience,” 28 November 1990.

(2) Thomas Aquinas, “In Symbolum Apostolorum,” no. 4.

(3) Michael Fagan, “Natural Theology Papers,” 2009.

(4) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter “Veritatis Splendor,” 6 August 1993, no. 91.

(5) See Pope Benedict XVI, “The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty” in “L’Osservatore Romano English Weekly Edition,” 6 November 2002, pp. 6-7.

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