An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Good, True, and Beautiful at the World Meeting of Families

Francis from front Jeffrey BrunoPhoto: Jeffrey Bruno

Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families: Seven Great Quotes
Pope Francis’s trip to the United States in September centered on his appearance at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Staff will write reflections on seven quotes from his visit.

From the Festival of Families: “All of the love that God has in Himself, all the beauty that God has in Himself, all the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family.”

Classical philosophers (think Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc.) refer to beauty, truth and goodness as the transcendental properties of being; aspects of being (or existence) that “transcend” or “go beyond” the thing that exists. God is all-in-all; He is the perfection of beauty, truth and goodness. Since He is Being (“I AM”), these attributes of being originate in God.

Let’s put this more simply. There’s the usual way we talk about goodness as a quality of a person: “Oh, she’s so good!” we may say, when we hear of a woman doing something charitable in our community. When we see obvious goodness— in Mother Theresa, for example—we see God within that action or person. But the goodness we’re talking about here, goodness as an attribute of being goes further. It means that the pure existence of something (or someone); that it is, is good. To love is to say to someone, “It is good that you exist,” regardless of whether that someone is annoying you at the time. A person does not have to do anything, in this case, to be good. The fact that they exist is the good. Think of babies. They are (or should be) loved because they are, not because they do anything special. This is a glimpse of God, who loves us into being and because He loves us, we are, we exist. As the pope said here, God gives the family this kind of love, this kind of total acceptance and goodness.

Secondly, beautiful things can draw us closer to God who is Beauty. Nature, art, music, etc. can all draw us out of ourselves (“ecstasy”) and lead us to seek the origin of the beauty we experience. Once again, beauty inheres (or is “stuck to”) anything that exists. Even a hairy spider (the author’s personal hatred) is beautiful in that it exists. God wills it into being. At the Festival of Families, Pope Francis said that God, who is love, gives to the family His own beauty. When you see a picture of a family that encompasses numerous generations, it is hard to deny this.

Lastly, if something is true, that means that it corresponds to reality; if I say, “There are three apples” and there really are three apples, then I speak the truth, and in speaking the truth about the apples, my mind is “in tune,” if you will, with God. God and I see the same thing (three apples). The family corresponds to the truth when it lives according to God’s laws (which are simply an expression of what reality is). What a family is, a community of life and love, is true.

How can you see the goodness, beauty and truth of your family today?

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