Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful....Or Are You Beautiful Because I Love You?

When I first heard the song Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, I pondered it for a long time.

The setting in the musical is the royal palace garden and the Prince has just seen Cinderella and danced with her. He is captivated by her beautiful form and finds himself falling in love with her. He then begins to sing "Do I love you because you're beautiful or are you beautiful because I love you?"

Obviously fairy tales speak a deep meaning and are meant to be more than just a superficial story, and so it is with this song.

Philosophers and theologians from of old have heralded beauty (ultimately Divine Beauty) as the attraction of our souls. We are attracted to beauty. But there is another, deeper, aspect to love. Love makes things beautiful. When love is placed in a situation, it invites and elicits beauty.

What may appear "ugly" to someone on the surface, is beautiful to the one who loves. This is why we can say that the Crucifixion, or a disfigured person contains a deep beauty because God always brings beauty and good out of darkness and suffering, if only we have the eyes to see.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in The Summa, "motion is nothing more than the reduction of potentiality to actuality." I LOVE this. Our whole lives, our becoming less so that He becomes more, is to lose our potentiality of beauty and holiness for the actuality of these realities.

St. Thomas gives the example of logs on a fire, that once they are hot and burning, they are no longer potentially hot, but actually so. And i think this is a very apropos example, for the reduction of our ego and self-centeredness does feel like a burning fire. But since God is pure essence and actuality, out of His love, He wants to make us like Him.

He loves us because we are a beautiful creation of His and we are beautiful because He loves us, and no one can take that away from us. People can gossip about us or steal from us. They can ignore us or be unkind to us but they can never, never take from us what really matters- the beauty and love that come from God. How freeing. How freeing. What matters most can never be taken or stolen.

May this Advent, with the beautiful new translation of the English Mass, be a journey of freedom, healing, beauty and a deeper knowledge that we are loved by the One- Jesus, who is the Light of the World.

God bless you.


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