The Beauty of Fall
Pastor Fr. Michael J. Miller, The Churches of St. Peter and St. Joseph, Delano
We just entered what I think is the most wonderful time of the year: the season of fall.
It is a time when the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Trees that we have hardly noticed all summer suddenly astound us with their beautiful color. Ordinary green gives way to flaming red, orange, and yellow.
Sounds and sights of the harvest fill the air. The sky is more blue, the air more crisp, and insects that have bugged us all summer are gone. One is compelled to go outside and drink it all in.
It is very important, spiritually, that we do. For it is not just pleasurable to experience fall, its beauty actually draws us closer to God. “For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their author, by analogy, is seen.” (Wisdom 13:5). In a message to artists, Pope John Paul II commented on this: “The brilliance of contemplated beauty opens the spirit to the mystery of God. Beauty has its own pedagogical force to introduce knowledge of the truth effectively.
“In fact, it leads to Christ, who is the Truth. Indeed, when love and the search for beauty spring from a dimension of faith, one can penetrate the depth of things and come into contact with the One who is the source of everything that is beautiful.
“It is evident that nature, things, and people are able to cause astonishment because of their beauty. How is it possible not to see, for example, in a sunset in the mountains, in the immensity of the sea, in the features of a face, something that is attractive and, at the same time, compels one to know more profoundly the reality that surrounds us?”
This beauty that draws us into the mystery of God is not limited to created things, but is shown even more in human actions.
“Suffice it to think of the power of spiritual attraction exercised in an act of justice, a gesture of forgiveness, sacrifice for a great ideal lived with joy and generosity,” according to Pope John Paul II.
With all of the evil in the world, and the ugliness, which is its fruit, it is so very important to remember and experience the beauty that shows the goodness of God.
He surrounds us now with this beauty in the season of fall. It is all around us. As we enjoy it, let us all observe it more deeply, and consciously acknowledge the One who made it all. Doing so can help us to become more aware of the beauty of the other seasons: the blossoming of new life in spring; the fullness of that life in summer; the quiet rest of winter.
We can become alive to the beauty of even the most simple things. “Creation is a book proclaiming the Creator.” (Fr. Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty, p. 163).
Let us remember, too, that the beauty of our actions is a sign to others of God’s goodness, which may draw them into the mystery of His life. “Truth is perceived in the beautiful, which attracts to itself through the unmistakable fascination that springs from great values.
“Thus feeling and reason find themselves radically united in an appeal addressed to the whole person. Reality, with its beauty, makes one feel the beginning of the fulfillment and seems to whisper to us: ‘You will not be unhappy; the desire of your heart will be fulfilled; what is more, it is already being fulfilled.” (John Paul II, message to artists).
God is love.
He is true and good and beautiful. Let us take advantage of this season and discover this reality more deeply through the beauty of fall.