Pursuit Personified: Beauty Unsullied

St Joseph, father and guardian of virgins, to whose faithful keeping Christ Jesus, innocence itself, and Mary, virgin of virgins, were entrusted. I pray and beseech thee by that two-fold and most precious charge, Jesus and Mary to save me from all uncleanliness. Keep my mind untainted, my heart pure, and my body chaste. Help me always to serve Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity.

Close in proximity to a chaste protectee of St Joseph, the responsibility of purity amasses toward awesomeness, an awareness of love individualized, God’s ways personified through a companion. I know who she is, where her heart reposes, the totality of her desired innocence. The vision is so sharp its acuteness is cutting. Profound accountability, possibilities demand a tender, intelligent touch, grave submission to the needs of establishing protectiveness. To guard, shelter, allowing tranquility within the holy for one incorruptibly defensive, one quartering an accretion of armory throughout years of distancing from pain, unable to encounter one capable of melting away inhibitions through sanctified love. Bountiful in spirituality, beauty, passion, intelligence, interest and intrigue, she moves about in her private world purely pristine, sheltering a home, calling with a silent heart. Brokenness amending, strengthening a rendering, I know not how to utilize my manhood in order to appease. Stumbling, bumbling, within the concretization of emotion realized on into the consecrated, my heart shudders. Through, with, and in, Jesus I ground myself upon unpolluted attraction, unadulterated captivation, focused, locked onto the eternal.

Recognizing difficulty, a chore of immense proportion, Greek mythological stories crop up in mind, fertilized through fascination. The state of innocence, beauty, virginity pursued within vested interest. Daphne fleeing. Actaeon, a stag a making.

Daphne, youthful beauty a splendor, innocent of vulgarity, physically free from desire, the God Apollo longs lustfully for encounter, transformation through physicality. Fearing the foe, Daphne flees, running and hiding from the mighty God of abundance. Clinging to virtue, purity, the state of negative metamorphosis, she refuses to acquiesce to that which will defile, rejecting surrender to the brutish nature of one stronger and wiser. Without love, without the profound, with the heart a moving into realms unperceived, a calling, a yearning on into depths unknown, a strong attraction obsessed, ignited, thorough the call of the Divine. Unknown, blissfully ignorant, Daphne comprehends negation as a path. She will not experience, memorize, attach through experience to that which detracts, that which untracks. Chastity sheltered, she calls out to her father, praying for protection. Altering states, metamorphoses, her conviction is answered. A tree she becomes, never knowing the lust of the beauty induced madness overcoming the god of Gods Apollo.

The other Greek beautifully charming rendition of the sanctity of loveliness unsullied, the difficulty of fulfilling the charismas of such a wholesome state is the ill-begotten termination of the hunter Actaeon. A proud hunter trained none the less by the wiles and ways of the centaur Chiron, the master of Achilles, Actaeon prowls the forest, solitarily hunting with only his powerful pack of dogs abreast. Exploring, he ventures into a cave of sweet smelling address. Astound by his finding, a bathing a plenty of sweet virgins tending to the needs of cleanliness demandingly requested by their sweet highness, the sister to Apollo, the goddess Artemis, the healer of young children, a virgin eternal , the easer of burdens afflicting women giving birth. Naked, radiating, purity astonishing, Artemis is witnessed by Actaeon, the bewildered hunter adoring the goddess of the hunt. The hunter becomes victim as the protection of Artemis’ immaculate status mandates redemption. A stag, a male deer, metamorphoses complete, Actaeon knows the being of a wild beast. Fear overwhelming, fear a natural state of creatures of the forest, the animal Actaeon flees from the cave, the well-spring of washing for the lovely goddess Artemis. Actaeon’s pack of dogs, being the beings they are, know only one thing. The hunt a way of life, the dogs take offensive, attacking, striking down their former master. Overwhelmed, rushing insanely into the forest, Actaeon is eaten by his own dogs. His intrusion upon beauty and innocence exposed his undoing.

Greek mythology, unpossessing the fullness of truth, entertaingly, intelligently, with charm and appeal, insightfully touches upon the mastery of life. The wonderful fullness of truth, lovingly reposed within the completeness of the body of Christ, the Catholic Church, presents the highest esteem for the sanctity of virginity, the beauty of the unsullied, through the most blessed of all women our sweet Virgin Mary, without whose fiat would never be known salvation. Pope Benedict XVI during the 2011 solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, praising the Angelus, defines the sacred status of the loveliest of all women and the sanctity of the fullness of truth existing within the Church.

We are also given the “fullness of grace” which we must make shine in our life, for, as St Paul writes: the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … has blessed us … with every spiritual blessing … even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless …. to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3-5). We receive this sonship through the Church on the day of Baptism. In this regard St Hildegarde of Bingen wrote: “The Church is, therefore, the virgin mother of all Christians. In the secret power of the Holy Spirit she conceives them and brings them to the light, offering them to God in such a way that they too might be called sons of God” (Scivias, visio III, 12: CCL Continuatio Mediævalis XLIII, 1978, 142). And, finally, among the many who have sung of the spiritual beauty of the Mother of God, St Bernard of Clairvaux stands out. He declares that the invocation “Hail, Mary full of grace” is “pleasing to God, to angels and to men. To men, thanks to her motherhood, to the angels, thanks to her virginity, to God, thanks to her humility” (Sermo XLVII, De Annuntiatione Dominica: SBO VI,1, Rome 1970, 266).

St Bernard of Clairvaux declares a soul’s ability to attain beauty through the imitation of the humility behaved by the Holiest of Mothers.

Let us see what is meant by the soul’s twofold beauty, for that is what seems to be intimated here. Humility is the soul’s loveliness. This is not my opinion merely, the Prophet has already said: “Sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed,” symbolizing in this lowly herb the humility that purifies the heart. He who was once both king and prophet trusts that this will wash him clean from his grave offence, and give him back the snowy brightness of his innocence. But though we are attracted by the humility of one who has gravely sinned, we may not admire it. If, however, a man retains an innocence now graced with humility, do you not think that his soul is endowed with loveliness? Mary never lost her holiness, yet she did not lack humility; and so the king desired her loveliness, because she joined humility to innocence. As she said: “He looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.” Happy then are those who keep their garments clean, who guard their simplicity and innocence, but on condition that they strive for the loveliness of humility. One so endowed will hear words like these: “Behold, how beautiful you are my dearest, O how beautiful.”


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