At least that’s what he thought. Michelangelo always thought of himself as a sculptor, but in this case, he didn’t have a choice. Pope Julius II decided that the little chapel needed improvement and he assigned Michelangelo to the task. Though he accepted the duty grudgingly, he decided to make the most of it.
And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex sin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It’s too heavy,” I said.
Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
~Corrie ten Boom, from The Hiding Place
A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.
It has never been easy to be a teenager. Crossing the border from childhood to adulthood comes with an assortment of demons and when you are thirteen year old Michelangelo, the experience comes out in paint. That’s right, he was thirteen when he painted The Torment of Saint Anthony.
The church celebrates Saint Anthony today (January 17) and his life was instructive. He inherited wealth from his parents at age twenty but gave it all away to live in simplicity and solitude, devoting himself to contemplation and prayer. He is known for being the father of monasticism and for his ability to battle the devil against temptations of every stripe.
The Christian’s goal is to become more Christ-like everyday. This is called sanctification and it has never been easy. We live in a broken world in which sin and its consequence is all around us. Thank God, the strength of the Christian is with the Holy Spirit who stands ready to guide and empower our every step. Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Art: The Torment of Saint Anthony by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:
Michael Graves recites Pied Beauty
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will behold a far-distant land.
“Beauty is the splendour of truth,” observes Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and to explain his passion for beauty, Stephen draws upon the thoughts of Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, among others. Metaphysics asks the question – “What is real?” and philosophy and literature have long since tried to answer. What we call love at first sight is that mysterious moment when our eyes tell us we are gazing at something (usually someone) so beautiful it at once fulfills a longing in our hearts and answers questions we have no words to ask.
We think it is sexual, but there is a fine line between the longing beauty of art and the filth of pornography, but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of obscenity “we know it when we see it.” Our understanding of beauty always goes directly to our values. Today we worry about the Unesco world heritage sites as ISIS destroys one after another. I’m reminded of the day in 1972 that Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was damaged by a vandal. I thought of that event as I stood before the masterpiece for the first time and wondered how anyone could want to destroy something so beautiful, so magnificent, so obviously from the heart of God.
That was it – my moment of epiphany. I looked past the marble and saw Mary holding her dead Son and I knew: She was thinking the same thing.
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.