Do you ever ask yourself this? I do, particularly when I come home for the summer holidays. I'm very blessed to go to a college that prizes beauty and recognizes its importance in bringing the soul closer to God. Our campus is beautiful, and our chapel is simply exquisite. A great deal of work is put into making sure that our dormitories don't become so functional that they lose their soul-refreshing aspect. Our courtyards are elegant and our common areas are decorated with beautiful art. Our liturgies are full of tradition, and our choir sings some of the best of old sacred music.
Stepping back into the 'real' world, I'm startled by the lack of all these things. The music is popular, 'art' means strange contortions of metal, buildings are sterile and streamlined, and our liturgies attempt to be accessible to the people and end up being only staid.
Are we inviting beauty into our lives and encouraging it? Just this past summer I had to take a look at the ways that I was bringing beauty into my home and commit to trying a little harder. As much as I love my college, it has made me a little spoiled. I can passively receive all it has to offer without putting any effort into finding that beauty. Consequently it fades away when I'm not there.
What kind of music do you listen to? Is there anything truly beautiful in your collection, universally recognized as feeding the intellect and the soul? Not that I don't love a good country station, but... next time you're driving in the car, switch on the classical station and let the beauty fill your mind. Try cooking dinner to one of the great composers of sacred music, such as Palestrina or Byrd.
What kind of books do you read? Give some of your reading time every day to something beautiful, like the epic poems of Homer and Virgil. I personally have never read anything that moved my soul so much as Dante's Divine Comedy.
What kind of art do you look at? I have to admit, this is where I fail the most. I know very little about painting, and am almost thoroughly ignorant of the great painters. But I would like to delve a bit deeper... learn some of their names and styles, contemplate of some of the masterpieces, and learn to appreciate the art better. There's something older and more beautiful than movies out there.
This isn't a call to cast aside everything besides the old greats - though I wish I had the courage to put aside all my music but the classical genre for at least a year - but rather an invitation to open the treasure chest of past ages and be surrounded by Beauty. If you let Beauty in, your world will be changed to something higher and richer for it.