Part XVI: The End.I have

Part XVI: The End.

I have considered many ways to treat of what should come next in this discussion of beatitude, but nothing I can write is adequate. The short list of ideas was:

1.) I considered an account of the beatific vision that radically negated all of our present knowledge in this life- at one time I considered putting it like this: if God had given us the senses of a bloodhound, we would speak of “the beatific scent”. Although this seemed like one of the better ways I could express the force of “eye has not seen…”, it was problematic (to say the least) and, of course, it sounded silly. Nevertheless, It is absolutely necessary to point out that when we speak of the beatific vision we are extending the meaning of the word vision so that it no longer means any experience we have with our bodily eyes- and yet we too often imagine the experience in terms of something seen this way, and we end up making “beatitude” banal. I sometimes fall into a rut of imagining the beatific vision as a bright light; or a static staring at God; or a frightful, unblinking stare that we must hold interminably.

2.) I considered an account of beatitude that focused on the definition of “eternity“. The definition is notable for, again, being mostly characterized by negation.We can better contemplate beatitude by remembering what it is not.

3.) I considered a long discussion of the transcendentals: goodness, truth, beauty. I thought that by discussing these we would have the best bridge from the things we know in this world to the things we hope for in the next.

4.) I considered a long discussion about the resurrection of the body.

5.) I considered a sort of inward journey to God like the kind that Augustine relates that he had while discussing beatitude with his mother. The experience is recorded toward the end of the Confessions. This is a rapturous text. Read well, it will give almost anyone a mystical experience.

6.) I thought about a discussion of the hierarchy of beauty related in speech Socrates gives at the end of Plato’s Symposium.

In the end, the ideas simply crowded each other out. There was also the fatigue of focusing on the same point for some five weeks. The whole series also either caused, or coincided with an all but total loss of generated comments, and it doesn’t take long before total comment silence, like every prolonged silence, ends up playing tricks with your mind.

The most promising idea I had for ending these posts was the one that treated beatitude as the extension of our present experience of beauty. I would have borrowed most of my ideas from the philosopher who wrote this. The article linked to is moral philosophy, but the author has also won some recognition for his treatment of the question of beauty; a treatment which- since it was a well ordered and thorough exposition of perennial philosophy- was the last word on the “conflict” between art and science, mysticism an theology, Plato and Aristotle. His ideas, however, proved immune to the brevity that blogposting demands, since they were firmly grounded in many of the profound particulars of theology, both natural and revealed. But this man, at the conclusion of his own work, saw in one quotation a perfect expression of the relation between beauty and beatitude- and I think it best to end my discussion with that same quotation. The words of the quoted Author have the benefit of being both familiar to all, and of never losing their refulgence by repetition:

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.

Psalms 27 (26) v. 4


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