“Archimandrite Vasilieios of Iviron Monastery, in his book Hesychia and Beauty in Athonite Life (1996), explains that, in the Church, ‘beauty is not reckoned as a category of aesthetics, but rather as the divine grace and energy which holds together the universe’ (p. 10). It therefore behooves us to seek to recognize and become aware of ‘beauty,’ remembering that Lord ‘sanctifies those who love the beauty of His house’ (Cf. Divine Liturgy, Prayer before the Ambo). All beauty has its origin in the Source of beauty, which is Christ Himself.

In our modern culture we continue to experience a general decline in our ability to recognize and appreciate beauty within our utilitarian world. It is imperative for us to fight against the plague of ‘busyness’: to slow down, to remember to carefully and prayerfully read, learning how (and sometimes violently forcing ourselves) to appreciate the Psalms, liturgical texts, the Scriptures, the sacred poetry and music. Words in the modern world have lost their power due to their sheer and daunting number. We must recover a sensitivity and respect for the power of each word, lest the Church’s liturgical life, based on the Word of God, fall to shambles, unappreciated and mindlessly hurried through (as it is much of the time).

To seek and recognize beauty is to find a door to the divine, to see a reflection of another world; it is to call to remembrance the Lord and ‘see’ His reflection. The virtuous Christian soul is the pinnacle of all such beauty. Indeed, all of creation is called to be redeemed and to enter into the Church, and as Christ’s garments on Mount Tabor, to be transfigured through coming into contact with Christ’s Body, the Church. Thus, everything that is restored in Christ’s Church — including the music — ought to reflect this sanctifying beauty.

We must constantly seek to become sensitive to, to learn to appreciate, to seek to understand more about the Church’s canonical liturgical arts which are the precious flowering of the Gospel itself. To fail to appreciate the real beauty, in all its diverse forms, that is contained within the Church’s Tradition (in all local jurisdictions), is to fail to recognize the Lord Himself; it is to fail recognize His restored and grace-filled creation within the Church, which is our best tool for evangelizing and changing the world. This beauty is truly captivating, reaching deep into the heart of man and restoring the image of God — the original beauty within him, the glory and power and majesty of Christ God Himself — through the beauty of holiness. It is this divine and saving beauty which comes through the Church and Her sacraments that will restore man and his world, saving it for eternity in the world to come.”

— Abbot Sergius of St. Tikhon’s Monastery

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