Can the heart desire what the eye does not admire?

Yeah, they used to dance in these rooms. SIGH.

One of the characters in the series I’m reading asked this question, and I’ve been pondering it for the past week. I’ve almost concluded that the answer is “No”. Although it may differ slightly depending on personality types/temperaments.

Speaking as a rather sanguine individual, I do not think my heart could truly desire what my eye does not admire. I tend to be very external, I love beauty in the grand sense. Interior decorating was a natural profession choice as I am naturally drawn to beautiful things to an extent that I don’t think the average person “suffers from” ;).   My jaw drops at the ornateness of Baroque wall furnishings, the delicate curve of a Queen Anne chair, and my fingers tingle at the touch of a well woven and patterned fabric on an old antique rocker. If I didn’t have this appreciation for decor, would my heart and mind seek external beauty in the decor realm? No. Which also makes me question whether I would seek Catholic art? Probably not. So would I seek the beauty and truth that the inside of my own parish church reflects? I doubt it, or at least I doubt as to how strongly. That’s not to say that my faith stems from interior decorating. Not at all. But rather, I was given the help of the external appreciation of beauty to aid me in seeking for Our Lord. The eye catches what the heart should seek. So in my case, I think no, the heart cannot desire what the eye does not admire.

Someone of a more internal personality then myself may not be affected the same way from external things. Their heart may know instinctively what to strive for without their eye first having to admire it, or their senses first having to draw them in. I imagine not everyone is the same. But could you overlook completely what the eye sees? You would not, for instance, desire to go into a decrepit shack, where you could instead go into a prettily pristine one right beside it, would you?

Of course there is also the truth that we live on faith, and desire God without having seen Him. But we have external beauty that leads us to Him, we do not solely desire Him without knowing even a glimpse of beauty. So for even internal temperaments, does the heart desire what the eye does not admire, truly?

Maybe I should continue pondering this… I don’t think my answer is as concrete as I thought… although I lean towards the answering being “No”.

Thoughts and comments welcome on this one.


Can’t tell me that Catholic art doesn’t draw you closer to Christ.




4 thoughts on “Can the heart desire what the eye does not admire?

  1. The heart can desire what it cannot or does not presently see, such as an absent loved one for example, but this implies that the absent object has already been determined worthy of admiration, and therefore, desire.

    This question is referring specifically to a known object or person and the heart’s ability to desire said object based on whether or not it has first been determined as worthy of admiration or not.

    The human heart naturally desires that which is good, beautiful, and true. God made each human heart to desire these things because He is Himself Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, and man’s natural desire for the these things will lead them to know, love, and serve God with all their hearts.

    If an object does not possess either in part or in whole, any of these, the heart cannot desire it. If one person is able to desire an object and another person, viewing the same object, does not desire it, then that is because the first person has seen within the object something good, beautiful, and true, that the other person has not seen or cannot see.

    Such is the example of the saints who were able to bear patiently, and even joyfully desire, the company of those persons whom most of us would try to avoid. Where we see irritability, unpleasantness, perversion, etc., the saint will see the beautiful and immortal soul, made in the image and likeness of God. They have seen that which is worthy of admiration within the person, and this leads them to desire their company and highest good.

    No one desires something that is evil because it is evil. When someone does desire something that is evil it is because they wrongly perceive or attribute something good, beautiful, or true to it. We cannot desire something that we do not love, admire, appreciate. If we don’t think of it as lovable, admirable, or respectable, then why would we ever want to desire it?

    All of this is just a long way of saying “no” from someone who over-thinks.


  2. This is a beautiful reflection, and I also agree with Fidget. I think that external beauty leads us, with maturity, to perceive and appreciate beauty that is not visible to the senses. God can lead us gently to that perception, and to the ability to reach past the more immediately accessible forms of beauty, through our natural longing for the good and beautiful. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) wrote about the forms of beauty in his play “The Jeweler’s Shop.” If you Google “beauty accessible to the mind jeweler’s shop,” you’ll find the passage. I’ve pondered it often.


      • From perusing your blog, I bet you’d love “The Jeweler’s Shop,” if you haven’t read it already. It’s one of those books that stays with you in your mind and heart for years.


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