What is a good example of spiritual beauty? I find this passage from St. Paul something inspiring. In Ephesians 3:17-21 he writes about what the love of Christ means:
“May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself.”
I love this passage. The most powerful force I have ever experienced in my life has been this feeling of Christ’s love in my own heart. Once felt, nothing has ever compared. After first experiencing this many years ago, my life was changed forever. Since that time I have had my ups and down, my struggles and dark moments, but despite moments, even years of difficulties, I have never forgotten the sense of God’s diving love dwelling within me, not only then, but now. When I think about how St. Paul talks about this, almost 2,000 years ago, and how I have felt this love myself, and all the others throughout the world who have also felt this love, I realize the truth of all this. Faith can be difficult because we have never seen God, we have never seen Christ, we only have the testament of others, whether through the Gospel or in our own time or in those times between, as well as our own experiences. Yet this love Christ entering and dwelling in our hearts is so simple and yet so powerful. As St. Paul says, it “surpasses all knowledge”. When I doubt, and I do have my doubts at times, it strengthens me to remember that Christians have been witnessing to the love of Christ dwelling in their hearts for all these centuries now. There has to be something to it.
As powerful a force as eroticism and sexuality are, they are nothing compared to the love of Christ. Sex can be fleeing, even loving another person can be transitory, but the love of God lasts forever, in all places, times, circumstances, and even through all eternity. And when it comes to our material world, and the subject of sexual eroticism which I write about here, I have to admit that it is really only through the deep union of married love that we can find the greatest expression of a sexual, erotic love between two people. There is great beauty in that.
But in order to experience this divine love, God does ask us to do one simple thing: to turn away from sin, to repent, to convert. Perhaps I have been trying to have it both ways in my life, trying to lead a life of sin, while wanting to feel the love of Christ in my heart. But God cannot dwell fully inside you if you are leading a life of sin. Perhaps I need to take off the old man and put on the new? I do know that when I am leading a sinful or degenerate life, I feel very distant from God and life seems harder. When I am close to God, life seems different, better, happy, hopeful, and warmed by love.
Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these are Love, so St. Paul tells us, in I Corinthians 13:13. Yes, I believe that, and in love, whether divine or human, is the deepest form of spiritual beauty imaginable.