Maino, Juan Bautista, Pentecostes. c. 1612-1614, Oil on canvas, Museo Prado, via Wikimedia Commons.
“Beauty will save the world.” I have often pondered this quote by Dostoevsky in light of my work in art. But recently, I have been pondering its words in another context — the human person, God’s ultimate masterpiece — which, in all its richness, form, and authenticity, provides a beauty which seizes the heart.
In this painting, what stands out to you? There is lots of movement, vibrant colors, realistic forms.For myself, my eyes were immediately drawn to the two women — the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene.
These women are on fire with the Holy Spirit. They are truly captivating.
It is ingrained in our nature as women to be witnesses to beauty. It is in us to be truly captivating to others. Our bodies tell us of this call; we are created to receive love.
Looking to Mary Magdalene in this painting, do you see a woman so utterly in love? She is caught up in the gaze of love with her Beloved. She is truly giving birth to her own spiritual children by receiving her Lover, the Holy Spirit.
These two women were true to their dignity as women. They allowed themselves to be loved.
Often, I find prayer to be beautiful, but also very challenging. There are times when I pray with Scripture and art that I find the places of my heart that I do not want to see. If I am honest with myself, the apostles seem so far beyond what I am. But, the reality is, you and I are called to this. We are all called to be set afire with this love — if we let Him.
Holiness is attractive. But we cannot get to this beauty by our own work. We cannot love others and God on our own. It is only by the grace of God that we can do this.
This painting speaks truth to us: We must remain in Him. If we remain in the Lord, ready and open to receive, He will give us what we need. He will bring Himself to others, if we are bold in sharing the gift of ourselves.
This is easier said than done. How easy it can be to hide ourselves in fear. But God yearns to fill us with His Spirit! As we are told in Scripture, “Perfect love casts out all fear” (1 Jn 4:18).
As you gaze upon this image, be one of these women! What is the lie you believe that makes you hide your true self from others? Is it fear of rejection? Of being weak? Of not being enough?
My dear Sister, the Lord wants to meet you in this fear. It is time to face it and bring the Lord into it. He will fill you with a love which is even more powerful, if you open your heart to Him.
As we go into this Holy time with Pentecost approaching, may we all be filled with God’s life-giving Spirit. May our beauty lead others to Beauty Himself.