What do you think of when you think of soul-piercing beauty? Where would you go if I asked you to step out of this world for a moment and enter into pure, unadulterated peace?
When I find in myself the desire to leave this world for another, I long to sit in the eternal beauty of a cathedral. These ancient structures are one of the greatest gifts the former generation of Christians has left for us. Their spires remind us that Heaven still awaits us even in the modern age. Their stained glass windows call us back to a time when the gospel was learned through imagery and art was taken so seriously that it could not be mass produced.
But the best thing about them, and maybe the most surprising, is that anyone can walk into a cathedral. They are not only for the rich and the powerful. Their beauty does not only bless the righteous and deserving. They are for us all. The poor, the broken, the unbelieving—anyone can walk in and enjoy God’s life as it is depicted on the ceilings and the walls. Anyone can seek peace and find God’s presence. But how many of us actually take the time to walk into cathedrals and behold their beauty?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins with this sentence:
“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.”
Take a moment and sit with the power of that sentence. The first thing the Catholic Church wants you to know is this: God is perfect. God is good. He created you out of that perfect goodness to share in His own blessed life.
Acts 17:27–28 says, “He is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” The same God who inspired the beauty of the cathedrals and dwells in the tabernacles, surrounds you at literally every second of your life. If you take the time to notice, you will see that God constantly invites you to step out of the misery of this broken world and into His joy of His blessed life.
But in the same way that most people rarely ever sit and behold the beauty of cathedrals, most of us never take a moment to stop in the midst of our busy lives to recognize that God is with us. We are too busy seeking our version of a blessed life to find Him in our day. We put our heads down to work hard, seek success, raise the next generation, and keep up with the infinite world behind the screens of our iPhones, and we forget to look up. Without realizing it, we start navel-gazing, consumed with our problems, fears, and tragedies. We forget that there is something more than ourselves and our situations. We fail to realize that if we stop, even for a second, and look for Him, He will flood us with His grace and change the direction of our day.
Friends, the joy of the Lord is not a pipe dream or a good Christian saying. It’s a reality and those who accept God’s invitation to share in His blessed life will experience it. So then, how do we do it? How do we step out of a culture that trains us to be miserable and step into the joy of the Lord daily?
We can do this in many ways. Living out the sacramental life and spending time with God in Scripture is a must, but in the midst of the busyness, we can train ourselves to simply look up from our lives and look around for God. We can stop doing whatever it is that is consuming us long enough to notice that God has made His presence known in the midst of our day. Once we find Him, we must allow Him to affect our perspective, our mood, and our attitude.
In Matthew 5:45 Jesus says, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” God transforms brick and mortar into cathedrals of His glory for sinners like us. He also places His goodness into the details of our day even though we don’t deserve it.
And so, this is your invitation: no matter what you are going through, walk into God’s blessed life and immerse yourself in His goodness. Look up and notice how the Lord is wooing your heart today. Are you going through something difficult? Are you struggling with where you are in your state of life? Does it seem that joy is just out of reach? No matter what it is, no matter how bad it seems, God has come close to you. Look up. Take notice. I challenge you, no matter what, to find His invitation. See that He has surrounded you with His grace. Then humble yourself and choose to walk into His blessed life.
 Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012).