Certainly my holiday this year has been one that has visited me with many graces and given me the gift of encountering such beautiful places that I never thought I would have the chance to visit in my life.
Fittingly this morning I came across some links that point us to pay attention and be aware and thankful to all the beauty that surrounds and gifts our lives.
I think it is vital that we try to keep our vision and senses focused on beauty in a world that often can seem so full of attempts to rob us of that.
The first is from Fr Austin Fleming at A Concord Pastor Comments on the delightful gift of fresh basil - link to Austin's prayer is here .
The second via Rocco Palmo to this address given by the Pope at Castel Gandolfo as this summer draws to a close : On Beauty as a Way to God: Art "Is Like a Door Opened to the Infinite" .This is an extract below."The Lord himself offers us many opportunities to remember Him. Today, I would like to consider briefly one of these channels that can lead us to God and also be helpful in our encounter with Him:
It is the way of artistic expression, part of that "via pulchritudinis" -- "way of beauty" -- which I have spoken about on many occasions, and which modern man should recover in its most profound meaning.
Below: View of evening sky in St Petersburg from our ship.
Perhaps it has happened to you at one time or another -- before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of poetry or a piece of music -- to have experienced deep emotion, a sense of joy, to have perceived clearly, that is, that before you there stood not only matter -- a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, an ensemble of letters or a combination of sounds -- but something far greater, something that "speaks," something capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul.
A work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human person who stands in wonder before the visible reality, who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colours and sounds.
Art is capable of expressing, and of making visible, man's need to go beyond what he sees; it reveals his thirst and his search for the infinite.
Indeed, it is like a door opened to the infinite, [opened] to a beauty and a truth beyond the every day. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward."