Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beauty by St. Thomas Aquinas

After posting about beauty from Audrey Hepburn, etc., I think it is now time to see what the angelic doctor said about beauty. I found something worth reading. Just part of what I saw as guide for us. Credit goes to christendom-awake.org.
"St. Thomas, in his exposition of Dionysius, holds that both God and creatures are beautiful. Since God, the supreme Beauty, is his own existence, ipsum esse subsistens, and all things have being by participating in his existence, beauty can be found in all existing beings. He [Dionysius] shows how God is the Cause of brilliance, when he adds that God with a flash sends down to all creatures a share of His luminous ray, and it is the source of all light. These glittering communications of the divine ray should be understood according to the participation of likeness. And these communications are "pulchrifying," that is, producing beauty in things."
"St. Thomas continues his exposition:

"Brilliance pertains to the consideration of beauty.... Every form, by which a thing has being [esse], is a participation in the divine brilliance. This is why he [Dionysius] adds that 'individual things' are 'beautiful according to a character of their own,' that is, in accord with a proper form. Hence it is clear that the being [esse] of all things is derived from the divine Beauty. In his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas gives three distinguishing characteristics of beauty: wholeness or integrity, proportion or harmony, and claritas which can be translated splendor, radiance, light, brilliance. The chief characteristic is claritas, 'radiance' ... beautiful things shine. The beautiful illuminates our intellectus with the intuition of understanding. The eyes and ears of our soul enable our vision to see the transcendent beauty present ontologically in all being.".

Now, let us stop here and ponder on the distinguishing characteristics of beauty: wholeness or integrity, proportion or harmony and clarity. Let us apply these charactristics on assessing the beauty of the person. It is not just the face or te\he body. It is the whole person. Think about it.

By the way, before I end, let me point out what was mentioned earlier: "beauty can be found in all existing beings". Aren't you happy that you have been created by God. Let us welcome life as life brings beauty with it.



maria sherla said...

One can really say "La vita e bella". Life indeed is beautiful. It brings beauty with it.

I don't understand why a lot of people are hostile towards pregnancy.Don't they realize that it's the most beautiful thing that can happen to any woman?

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you would be able to give me a proper citation of Aquinas' exposition on beauty, as quoted above. Thanks.

LM (lmancha@ashland.edu)

Anonymous said...

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