God created beauty for the life of the soul. It has no corporal usefulness. It does not satisfy hunger, shelter us from a storm or provide warmth. For the life of the body, it is perfectly useless.
However, beauty is more useful than food, shelter and warmth. This is because beauty is useful to the soul, and the soul is worth more than the body.
Let us say, for example, that a city has no bread. Without food, everyone dies. But can a soul live in a world without beauty?
When the Jewish nation under the Machabee family revolted against the foreign pagan domination of their country, the first Machabee, the one who started the revolt, launched it with this cry: “It is better to die than to live in a land devastated and without honor.” We could say: “It is better to die than to live in a land devastated and without beauty.” The beauty of the things of the earth is one of the reasons for their existence. Beauty makes life worth living.
Because of this, one who wants to love God must be sensitive to beauty. Normally, a person insensitive to art is insensitive to God. In Catholic civilizations, art is cultivated as much as possible. That is why a church building as a whole is beautiful, or at least attempts to be beautiful. This is why even in the catacombs in the bowels of the earth, we find chapels that were attempts at beauty. The worship of God ought to take place in beautiful circumstances so that the soul might be truly led to God by means of the worship rendered. This is beauty’s reason for being.
Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira