Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sphere of the Angels

"Rilke was not mistaken when he identified as one the sphere of the angels and the sphere of all that is beautiful. 'For the beautiful is nothing but the first degree of the terrible.' The world of beauty is the world of intermediate hierarchies which are irradiated with the glory that cascades down from the Trinity even into the formless opacity of matter. The beautiful is the world of forms between that which above form, being the sphere of God, and that which has no form at all, being mere matter. The modern world shuts out intermediate order. It recognizes nothing between scientific thinking and mystical possession, and in so doing denies completely the sphere which it is the function of art to reconstitute by giving back to the universe its depths."

[This quotation is from Jean Danielou, Prayer as a Political Problem (Sheed & Ward, 1967), pp. 77-8. When he says "matter" of course he is talking about matter in the Scholastic sense, not that of modern physics. The picture is by William Blake, and shows Christ's body guarded by angels.]