Friday, October 08, 2010

You're Beautiful: An Act of Unselfishness

One of the delights of the internet is that you can entertain yourself endlessly with all kinds of peculiar things that people somewhere invent and put online for others to enjoy. I remember once finding a little program where you could pop virtual bubblewrap which completely cracked me up and caused me to waste hours just popping bubbles. My sister just told me when she really needs mindless entertainment she plays FreeCell and listens to old rock music videos. I was tickled by Warren Buffet's recent revelation that he is a YouTube addict who can spend hours watching old “Rat Pack” videos – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. etc.

One of my favorite things on YouTube is “fan vids” - videos that people make to express their admiration for all kinds of folks -from the sublime to the ridiculous. I've watched a lot of them, mostly made for actors or other performers that I happen to fancy myself – Timothy Dalton, Gabriel Byrne, Adrien Brody, Angel Corella. One of my very favorites is a fan vid someone made based on the Masterpiece Theater production of Daphne DuMaurier's Frenchman's Creek. I loved that production and this video is like the whole thing in a few minutes. Man, oh, man, can Anthony Delon smolder or what?

I love to think about the people who made these. I imagine them sitting at their computers searching the internet for the very, very best pictures and clips of their subject, selecting perfect music, assembling the visuals and adding the effects, so much work all in honor of someone who floats their boat. It's sweet really. In its own way it is an art-form, especially the really well done ones, and I don't blame the video artists for being proud of their work and wanting to share it with the world. Judging from the comments a lot of them get, their work is much appreciated. It's beautiful when you think about it.

Recently, however I discovered a fan vid that really captured my imagination. It was in honor of one of the most unlikely people one might imagine, a priest. Not just a priest but the Pope's secretary Monsignor Georg Gänswein. Now, I'm the first to admit that Msgr. Gänswein is a very handsome man and, as we used to say in Catholic school, a candidate for Father Whatawaste, but, by all accounts, he is a man of impeccable character and devotion. So the idea that someone made a fan vid about him sort of surprised me. And yet I watched it several times trying to decide what was captivating me. I finally got it – it's the song the video-maker used, James Blunt's “You're Beautiful”.

It's a lovely song about a man who sees a woman on a subway and is completely smitten by her beauty. In the song he says he knows he will never see her again, that he cannot have her, but he knows she belongs to someone else and, therefore he will never be with her. The song is, to me,an acknowledgment, that some of the most beautiful and memorable experiences in our lives are also the most fleeting.

My last novel, Each Angel Burns, had as a main character a beautiful and highly desirable priest who happened to love God more than he loved the woman who loved him. My Father Black chose God because, the way his heart and soul were made, he could not divide his love. As I was watching the video for the third time I realized that the person who made the video understood that. All the pictures of Msgr. Gänswein selected for the video show this beautiful man doing the work he has chosen to do and, in the final lines of the song, when the singer concludes “You're beautiful but I'll never be with you” is a photo of Msgr. Gänswein bending to kiss the feet of Christ on the Cross. It touched me so deeply and I thought this video is a lovely, spiritual recognition of this beautiful man's choice. It is a video of praise and unselfishness – and I found that so sweet. The person who made the video is to be commended.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Dang, if he were to give up his vocation, he could make a killing as the rugged model for cologne or a line of sportswear.

    Straight out of central casting, he is. Bet there was audible weeping when he announced his decision to join the priesthood.

  2. There is no denying, he IS beautiful.


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