VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2004 ( John Paul II suggested the rediscovery of beauty to be able to rediscover the face of God and proclaim him in a world marked by ugliness.

To explain the essence of beauty, the Pope reflected on part of Psalm 44(45), a poetic composition dedicated to the wedding of the Jewish king, in which Christians have seen a premonition of Jesus, the Messiah. He offered his commentary to the 15,000 people gathered at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The canticle in the Psalm is a song which "exalts the beauty and intensity of the gift of love between the spouses," the Pope said. He summarized it with an expression from the Song of Songs: "My lover belongs to me and I to him."

The Holy Father pointed out that the Psalm highlights in particular "the beauty of the bridegroom, sign of an inner splendor and of divine blessing," when it states: "you are the fairest of the children of men."

"Precisely on the basis of this verse, Christian tradition represented Christ in the form of a perfect and fascinating man," he added.

"In a world often marked by ugliness and degradation, this image is an invitation to rediscover the 'via pulchritudinis' [the way of beauty] in faith, in theology, and in social life to ascend to divine beauty," the Pope said.

"However, beauty is not an end in itself," the Pope noted. "Beauty must be combined with goodness and holiness of life so that the luminous face of the good, wonderful and just God will shine in the world."

Thus one can understand the paradox of the earthly life of Christ himself, who in the passion bore the sins of men, experiencing the worst of curses.

Quoting St. John Chrysostom, the Pope explained that Christ "became a curse to fill you with blessings."

The meditation continued the series of papal reflections on the Psalms and canticles of the liturgy of vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. They reflections may be read in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.