The Language of Beauty

Inspired silence, you are my friend, revealing beauty all around me—and in me.

I bite my tongue, lest I interrupt your sage instruction.

And I hold my thoughts still within me,

lest their noise distract from your divine eloquence.

 

Please continue, as you were saying…

you were beginning to share the mysteries of this life, the magic of our times.

You were enunciating the language of beauty,

of which all creation has spoken, since the beginning,

but which I have forgotten through misuse, and moreover by abuse.

 

I am not certain when I ceased speaking our native tongue, dear silence,

and commenced instead to speak other languages, coarser and ill-refined.

I have allowed myself to become a Tower of Babel—

strange languages have infested my inner halls,

a multitude of voices competing to be heard; a rabble within me,

loud and echoing, stark against my soul’s chamber walls.

 

I must confess I’ve spoken the languages of anger, and greed,

and above all vanity and pride,

and I’ve uttered words of lust and sadness.

I’ve made speeches of self-conceit,

and made myself hoarse asserting my ambitions—

my love sonnets have been composed for and about me alone.

 

But no, dear silence, I must now refrain;

and by pain of humility,

I have stilled these foolish voices.

Please, silence, dear friend, begin again…

 

I will listen to your unspoken words—

as they glide across the morning sky,

and unfurling like newborn leaves,

glittering, and sparkly in the dewy sunlight—

they do transfix and transform me.

 

Silence—

yours is a magnificent soliloquy,

spoken in a mystery,

ushering all into a world of beauty.

 

I do perceive you speak of God.

 

~FS

March 16

Indeed, we have seen that in the passion of gluttony, man delights in food outside of God–he considers it in and of itself and uses it only for his own pleasure. Since food is a creation of God (either directly or indirectly) and a gift of God to men, it has no value by itself but only through God, and is meant to be consumed Eucharistically. Thus, St Paul teaches that God “created [it] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”

Man is healed of his passion and regains a virtuous attitude by the turning around of his attitude that led him to consider food in itself and have it serve his own pleasure to considering such food in God, linking it to Him and giving Him thanks for it. Thus St Paul advises: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

By consuming food in such a manner, man sanctifies it, and in it, the created cosmos which it represents. But above all, he simultaneously sanctifies himself, not only doing away with the barrier that gluttony erected between man and God, but also uniting himself all the more to God every time he gives Him thanks.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses, vol. 3, pp. 10-11)

March 15

…what man is potentially in his nature by grace, he must also become personally and actively by his free will in all his life and being. For, as St Gregory of Nyssa warns: “That which you all have not become, you are not.”

And St Diadochus of Photice spells out in detail that if the first of the gifts bestowed by the grace of baptism is the immediate restoration of the image of God, the second gift–the likeness of God–“requires our cooperation.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol. 2, p. 57)

March 14

Keep before your eyes the benefits received from your birth until now, be they bodily or spiritual; go over them and meditate on them, according to what is written: “Forget not all his benefits,” in order that they may bring you to love God quickly and easily…in order that your heart, at the remembrance of these benefits and even more so spurred on from on high, might spontaneously be wounded with love and desire.

~St Mark the Ascetic

March 13

Pleasure is only a fleeting delight. Yea, pleasure quickly takes flight, and we cannot tie it down even for a few moments. For such is the destiny of human and sensible things: hardly do we possess them, and they escape us…They offer nothing solid or assured, nothing fixed or permanent. They flow away more rapidly than rivers of water and leave empty and indigent those who search after them with such burning zeal. On the contrary, however, spiritual goods present us an altogether different character. They are firm, assured, constant and eternal. [Is it not] then a strange folly to exchange immutable things for transitory delight, immortal bliss for pleasures of the moment, and true and eternal felicity for quick and frivolous sensual joys?

~St John Chrysostom

March 12

Love of money and greed further destroy charity and pervert relationships with others by leading him whom they possess to see in his neighbor nothing more than an obstacle to the preservation of possessed riches or a means to acquire new ones. John Chrysostom also notes that “love of money brings us universal hatred” and “makes us detest everyone, the victims of injustice and even those whom our injustices have not trampled down.”

…These passions constantly provoke arguments and disputes. St John Chrysostom observes: “In riches, there is nothing but causes of affliction, divisions, quarrels, snares, hatred, thefts, envy, separations, enmities, storms, remembrance of wrong, hard-heartedness, murders.”

…As for greed, St Gregory of Nyssa remarks that it unleashes in man “either anger with his kith and kin, or pride towards his inferiors, or envy of those above him; then hypocrisy comes in after this envy; a soured temper after that; a misanthropic spirit after that.”

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses vol.1, pp. 176-177)

March 11

The pathological character of love of money and greed is likewise and consequently made manifest in the relationship of man to himself. Subject to these two passions, he lacks the most basic love with regard to himself; he prefers money and material riches to his own soul. Preoccupied with keeping the goods he possesses and acquiring new ones, he neither takes care for his soul, nor does he worry about his salvation.

St John Cassian says that he neglects “the image and likeness of God…which [he] should preserve without stain in himself” by worshiping God: “Indeed, one cannot love both one’s soul and money.” Occupied with increasing and maintaining material wealth, man cannot develop his spiritual potentialities and effect the blossoming of his nature, and thus he keeps himself enclosed within the limits of the fallen world.

Even though he believes that he truly enriches himself–that he gains his freedom and guarantees himself life in gathering treasures on earth, he alienates and pins down all his being and existence to this world and “the flesh”, “for where man’s treasure is, there his heart is also”.

…Above all, it takes the place of spiritual delights which are incomparably superior and alone capable of fully satisfying man, whom pleasure in the end deprives of eternal bliss. Thus it is clearly apparent that man in many ways becomes “his own enemy”, as St John Chrysostom says, through love of money and greed.

~Dr Jean-Claude Larchet (Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses, vol.1, p.174)