Lemme See that Beauty Work
Riddle me this...
What do sports actually have to offer humanity? Here at Swole.Catholic, we love sports and we love competition. And yes, we love watching our Broncos. Nonetheless, I found myself wondering one day, why does this matter? Now, don’t get me wrong, sports and athletics DO matter, but how? And why?
I think the answer is simple: beauty. The world is in dire need of beauty and the inspiration it provides. God’s beauty provides sparks of hope to weary souls. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation -- if not beauty?”
“What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence...if not beauty?”
Traditionally, the task of capturing and creating beauty has been left to artists, sculptors, poets, writers, photographers etc. – it is no small thing to accomplish, for as PopeFrancis says, “The task of artists [is]...to create works of art that bear through the language of beauty a sign, a spark of hope and trust where people seem to give indifference and cynicism.” Over the last few thousand years, how many people have attempted to capture and portray this beauty through the human person? Any number of ancient cathedrals and churches are adorned with sculptures, displaying an ideal of the physical body. But why is this task left only to traditional artists? I propose that athletes, too, can provide these sparks of hope with the art they create on the canvas of competition. Every action, every muscle fire, is a display of beauty through using the body as God intended, for the pursuit of a good. That good is excellence.
Sports and competition matter because they are incarnations of God’s beauty in the human body; they glorify His beauty in every person and allow us to interact with and behold it.
One of Swole.Cathlolic’s recent blogcasts, “See the Kingdom, Taste the Kingdom”, argues that competition and victory, especially in sports, are earthly tastes of the triumph of Heaven. But I contend that it is also for the sake of beauty that we are all so caught up in sports. Watching and partaking in athletic competition allow us to revel in that pursuit of excellence and the hope it provides. We all marvel at the incredible feats athletes accomplish. Are you not left in awe at an amazing play, or the setting of a new world record? It is quite like being left in wonder gazing upon a beautiful old cathedral.
Cathedrals are built to raise our eyes towards Heaven, to see that beauty, and for that beauty to draw us closer to God. It is within those walls that the Sacraments occur, the Sacraments that draw us into Jesus’ body and into communion with Him. Our bodies are living cathedrals where these moments of communion take place. If a cathedral is built to glorify the reality of what goes on within it, then our bodies, too, must be built to glorify the reality of our communion with God.
"If a cathedral is built to glorify the reality of what goes on within it, then our bodies, too, must be built to glorify the reality of our communion with God."
Of course, not all of us are world class athletes capable of such feats of physicality, but God did give each of us an inherently beautiful body to glorify in similar fashion. The question, then, is, how do we view our own bodies? Do we recognize their beauty?
Genesis says explicitly that we are made in the image and likeness of God. He made each of us to be beautiful, and He wants nothing more than to be acknowledged as present at our very core. So surrender to Him; let Him show you His presence. Realize that you are formed by Him and that He made you to be beautiful. Embrace and engage with that beauty, let it pulse through you, let it permeate your being. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and like any church, it should reflect the dignity that is inherent within it.
"The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and like any church, it should reflect the dignity that is inherent within it."
In His strength,