Imagine a summer evening spent by a lake. Recall the quiet stillness as the hours ticked by. Now recall what you experienced upon seeing this landscape and watching the sun cast its brilliant rays on everything it touched. I remember one evening I spent like this in the stillness and simplicity of summertime. I was moved by the beauty of what went on around me, birds singing, dragonflies buzzing about the water, the simple beauty of the moment lifted my heart to a new height that it had yet to reach. This instance lifted my heart to ask questions such as what makes this so beautiful, or why does this cause me to feel this way. I remember being motivated to move from being a lazy high school student wasting away my summer vacation inside to a less lazy person who would strive to spend more time outside taking in the summer air. Maybe you have had a similar moment that upon viewing or experiencing something for the first time you were moved so much that it motivated you to change a sinful way that you had been stuck in for a while, or it moved you interiorly causing you to cry because your emotions responded so greatly to this. But now looking back, you realized how greatly this object or moment impacted your life and you remember that you saw the value of this object on a whole new level, forever changing you.
In that instance you perceived a great value of that moment or object. By the perception of this great value you became more fully aware of yourself and the world around you. In Liturgy and Personality, Dietrich von Hildebrand says:
“A man is rich in values, is a personality, in the highest sense of the word
to the degree that he perceives values, that he possesses a spiritual
vision clear and open to the fullness of the world of values, above all to
the world of supernatural values…”(1)
By the perception of the value of that beautiful object, you are made a fuller personality. By being a fuller personality I mean a man who responds to values as they deserve to be responded to. After this response he takes these values and the response to them and makes them part of himself, being, if only slightly, permanently changed by them. The perception of this value allows you to possess a more spiritual vision of yourself and the world around you. This is so because by the perception of this object or moment we see its value, its intrinsic worth. But its intrinsic worth is only known in light of our value for objects have an inherent value that is understood in light of our own value. Meaning that the evening by the lake is good but it is only understood by me and the value that I respond to by it.
When we perceive an object that causes such a deep response, we are changed in light of it. In responding to the intrinsic importance of the lakeside evening our eyes are opened to all value. New light is shed on the world around us. A true response-to-value gives us a greater understanding of ourselves, a deeper and fuller self-consciousness in which we are more able to see ourselves as the Lord sees us. It is through this response that we are able to surrender ourselves fully to Christ which makes us able to attain and perceive values purely as they are.
(1) Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality, chapter 5 page 36