Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pretty Girls Have Inner Beauty, Too!

I have a friend who is prettier than most. She's sort of exceptional-looking, dark hair and eyes, a taste for flattering clothes, musician's hands - but it's her skin that makes her stand out most of all. Her skin is nothing like my own; no sign of weather-damage or neglect, no blotchy-red response to sudden cold or heat. Instead it glows with just the right amount of inner-light, it seems forever well-tended, and looks softly made-up even freshly scrubbed clean. I covet the easy perfection of her skin; all the same, I've never wanted to look just like her, I'd rather look like myself - perfected.

My friend's beauty inspires me to try for my own best look. She reminds me, just by being herself, that caring for the whole body is a holy act. A way of blessing the people we love, ourselves, and the world around us. Because beauty is a gift meant to be shared.

Not everyone is interested in receiving that gift, however, and physical beauty has as many - or more - naysayers within the Church as architectural beauty. So many faithful Catholics want to leave behind the grand, rich, artful buildings and make their holy places streamlined, conference-centers housing a toned-down tabernacle; and many more - especially women - fight beauty in the bodily temple. They want to know why we bother with make-up at all, why we work to make our bodies living canvases for the Beauty of the Divine Love.

living canvas
It's not that I believe that people who are less than pretty are out of God's favor, or that the ridiculously good-looking are holy simply because of their looks. I don't insist on - or even necessarily encourage following the trends of the day - molding our bodies to the ever-shifting standards of perfection. What I do believe is that my body is a temple to the Holy Spirit, and that it is not enough to merely sweep the temple clean and wash the windows. The effort taken to dress and decorate the altar, to hang lights, and fill the walls with Icons and images is a holy effort - it glorifies God and gladdens His heart.

 I'm sad when I hear women denigrate someone like my lovely friend, calling into question her 'inner beauty' because she finds it worthwhile to nurture the outer beauty as well - not, as some would assume, to seduce or distract the husbands of other women, nor to make those women jealous and miserable; but to delight God with the care she gives his temple, to delight her husband and to live out the vow "with this body, I thee worship", and to make a fitting home for her own beautiful soul. Because, believing in our own inner-beauty requires us to let it show, doesn't it? Either with Byzantine Churches - the abundant old-style I prefer; or else in country chapels - white-washed and gleaming, but beautifully tended, however we house it. 


  1. Very good comparison and extremely well written. :) I love it. Definitely how I have felt since my conversion to Catholicism. Even as a stay at home mom and wife, I dress up daily. Not only for my husband because he deserves to come home to a (hopefully) pretty woman but also for myself. I am more productive when I am dressed nicely with my hair done up. I believe women who take care of themselves and present themselves modestly are wonderful examples of what God wants us to be. And makes it easier for men to treasure who we are as a daughter of God.

  2. Thanks KelLee! I love your thoughts. Actually, getting dressed earlier in the day - like pre-breakfast- is one of my goals for this Lent! I agree completely about how much MORE productive, happy, and generally 'together' I am when I dress and get ready early in the day!

  3. Love it!! Even if I covet "easy perfection" in skin, too. Darn it, I just WENT to confession LAST WEEK. :P

    Also, I love your "unperfected" picture--maybe that's not helpful... but you seriously have the warmest eyes, which is a really lovely combination of inner AND outer beauty. <3

    OOH. Did you get to use the vow "With my body, I thee worship?" Lou and I looked into it, but the only place we could find it was the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which we didn't figure we could get worked into our ceremony. I love it, though. I think it's so beautiful and right.

    The effort taken to dress and decorate the altar, to hang lights, and fill the walls with Icons and images is a holy effort - it glorifies God and gladdens His heart.

    Love love love this!!!

  4. Awww thanks, Jenna!

    We did NOT get to use the vow, but I feel like it is - or ought to be - sort of implicit in whatever 'normal' (not made up) vow you use..you know..So I imagine it being a part of my vows, and everyone's vows..I like making assumptions about other people's commitments ;)