***The attack on God thought art
From Saint Thomas Aquinas we learn that beauty is that which when seen pleases. This being the case then, ugliness can be defined as that, which when seen, displeases or nauseates the observer.
Today, there are many people who suffer from a serious lack of good things to appreciate. This is because our present day American culture is becoming more and more devoid of refinement and beauty. These two necessary ingredients of any healthy society have been eroded away by an insidious tide of vulgarity and ugliness which has gone on, mostly unnoticed, for many years, and has now dulled the sensitivities of a large segment of our population.
Traditionally, the object of art is beauty, and the purpose of that beauty is to elevate the mind and soul of the beholder toward God, the source of all beauty and goodness. Beauty gives us hope and inspiration, and ultimately, just as the skill and talent of a great artist can be known from his work, so to can the grandeur of God be discerned from the beauty of His creations.
Today, however, almost every aspect of our society, from paintings, sculpture, theater, and building architecture to clothing, music, TV shows, movies, etc, has been negatively influenced by this assault against beauty. One of the most noticeable forms of this is the blaring rock type music that saturates our everyday world: at the gas station; the grocery store; the mall; etc, we are constantly bombarded with noise. Even the human body has become a victim of this new art of ugliness.
Now it is not my intention to be disrespectful or offensive to anyone, but we need to look at the situation objectively. Once we were a nation of beautiful people, both morally and in the way we dressed and presented ourselves, but now that is not the case. The basic design of our bodies has not changed, but the way dress them, decorate them, and act with them, has. We have become a nation of slobs, not only in the way we dress, but also, in the way we think: no discipline of body, no discipline of mind.
Just compare the way people dressed 50 - 60 years ago (suit and tie for the gentleman, and pretty dresses for the ladies and young girls), with the way the average person does today (T- shirts & Jeans, often with holes in them, shorts, flip-flops, or barely any clothing at all). This new manner of “dress”, reveals much more than just bare or decorated skin, it also shows the moral confusion of much of our society. God made the human body beautiful, but modern sinful man, in his misguided quest for identity, has, through his embrace of the body art culture, done his best to destroy that beauty.
Much of today’s “art” no longer has as its purpose the conveying of beauty, but only to shock, sensationalize and offend the viewer. Often, it’s underlying purpose is the conveying of some personal or political message or agenda. It forms a secular, godless culture that undermines our values and attacks our Faith. Is it any surprise that in America’s culture of death, we see so many elements of this culture of ugliness. A society that has rejected God, and allowed itself to become immersed in sin, is incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and is unable to recognize the inherent beauty of a newborn child, as opposed to the grotesque reality of abortion, oftentimes choosing the latter over the former.
This lack of comprehension of beauty has also infected the Church, and is most noticeable in the style of modern Church architecture and artwork, and in our liturgy. One need only contrast the true inspirational beauty the Gothic and Romanesque styles of the past, with the blah, banal designs of most modern day churches. Whereas the former, with their magnificent stained-glass windows and artwork, emphasized the vertical and lifted our hearts and minds to God, modern-day churches with their horizontal emphasis, and distorted artwork, are depressing and do little, if anything, to inspire the hearts of the observer.
In our forms of worship, the average Novus Ordo liturgy pales in comparison with the beauty of the Latin Tridentine (extraordinary form) Mass, whose return to active use is now a source of great joy for many Catholics.
Let me conclude by asking two questions. Does sin really affect the beauty of nature? Yes, absolutely! But then, who is ultimately behind this attack on the beauty of God and his creatures? It is Satan, formerly known as Lucifer, a once shining member of the highest order of angels. This once beautiful creature, who had been destined for an eternity of unbelievable joy and happiness in heaven, has, because of the malice of sin, condemned himself, and his followers, to an eternity of unspeakable misery in hell. Most hideous in appearance, were we able to see him, and malevolent in nature, Satan and his demonic horde, their wills forever fixed in opposition to God, ferment a raging hatred against Him and all His creation – especially man. Satan is the ultimate link between sin and ugliness, for he is the father of both. **
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