How-To Guide to a Life That Illuminates the Beautiful One

BOOK PICK: ‘Let Beauty Speak’

‘Let Beauty Speak’
‘Let Beauty Speak’ (photo: Ignatius Press)

Let Beauty Speak

The Art of Being Human in a Culture of Noise

By Jimmy Mitchell

Ignatius Press, 2023

190 pages, $17.95

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For many people, the word “beauty” might conjure up images of a lavish mansion, a stunning mountain retreat, or even a pricey hairdo. But to Jimmy Mitchell, author of Let Beauty Speak: The Art of Being Human in a Culture of Noise, beauty itself is really more a spiritual connection than a reflection of earthly images. As he writes, “… great evangelists never took their eyes off beauty.” They fixed their gaze constantly upon God, “the Beautiful One who gave them their identity every day in prayer” — and that allowed him to lead them to a beautiful existence.

Without a connection to our Creator, people lose the real sense of the beauty that God offers them. In his book, Mitchell carefully and thoughtfully lays out a how-to guide for his readers to live an evangelic life that illuminates all the beauty God has created for mankind. To do this, he presents 10 chapters, or 10 principles; he urges readers to embrace: “Wonder,” “Freedom,” “Friendship,” “Prayer,” “Leisure,” “Work,” “Community,” “Suffering,” “Mission” and “Culture.”

He begins each chapter with how he learned that each of these principles impacted his own life. For example, in “Wonder,” he explains how his first trip to New Zealand was life-changing, from praying at a local church to taking hikes to volcanoes: “I was humbly aware that I still had so much to learn about God, myself, and the world.” Then he asks readers: When “was the last time you stood in awe and wonder? It doesn’t have to involve an adventure to another hemisphere. … [W]hen was the last time beauty helped you ask important questions about life’s origin, purpose, and final end?”

While the book’s other chapters can leave readers reexamining their own approach to life and to God, perhaps the most impactful chapter — at least for prayerful readers — is the chapter aptly titled “Prayer.” Describing his pilgrimage in County Donegal, Ireland, Mitchell noted that a “pilgrimage is an opportunity to abandon ourselves to God and to see ourselves in the light of God’s love.” As he described it, this particular trip was fraught with discomfort and hunger, challenging him to recognize God’s love by daily prayer. And through prayer, he says, God speaks. As he writes, “The more I prayed and fasted, the more open I became to God’s will.”

Prayer, he continues, focuses on “lifting of one’s heart to God.” He further outlines the four typical forms of prayer: thanksgiving, praise, petition and intercession; and focuses on how prayer fosters peace. For Catholics, he writes, certainly the highest form of prayer is attending Mass, as he outlines the Liturgy of the Hours and the importance of adoring the Blessed Sacrament and going to regular confession. He urges Catholics to pray regularly to become a true “companion of Christ.”

Sadly, in this secular age, he notes that too many people have walked away from church and from God. Mitchell references a speech by Pope Benedict XVI: “Nothing matters more than intimacy with God. There is no greater joy in this life than being a companion of Christ.”

And only through prayer can people become what God created “and stay humble enough to do all things for His greater glory.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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