Church Fathers, Day Six: St. Basil and the world as a work of art

Admire the world as a work of art

The world is a work of art displayed for our admiration, says St. Basil. When Genesis says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” it tells us that the world is a work of art, and it tells us who the artist is.

Among the arts, some have production in view, some practice, others theory. The object of the last is to exercise thought; of the second, the motion of the body. If it ceases, everything stops—there’s nothing more to see. Thus dancing and music leave nothing behind: they have no object but themselves.

In creative arts, on the other hand, the work lasts after the operation. Such is architecture; such are the arts that work in wood, brass, and weaving, and in fact every art that, even when the artist is gone, shows an industrious intelligence, and causes the architect, the brasier, or the weaver to be admired for his work.

So to show that the world is a work of art displayed for all people to admire, and to make them know who created it, Moses uses no other word. “In the begin­ning,” he says, “God created.” He doesn’t say “God worked” or “God formed,” but “God created.”

–St. Basil, Hexameron, 1.8

IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .

If the world is a work of art, am I adding to its beauty or detracting from it?

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, Creator of the universe, may none of your marvelous works be silent, but may all creation join in singing a hymn of praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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