With Christ as the perfect model, this “Way of the Cross” economy also served God’s glory by awakening in men a passionate pursuit of excellence for excellence’s sake.
To medieval man, this pursuit of excellence was an arduous task, not unlike a Way of the Cross that ultimately led not to profits but to God. He believed he could give glory to God by making His creation even more excellent. By making beautiful things, the artisan’s sacrifice taught all society to love excellent things as a way that they might know and love God more. In this way, even the most modest things in Christian civilization tended to have a certain splendor, so that all creation could better sing the glory of God and thereby elevate souls towards Him.
One could see this in the craftsman who set about his arduous tasks motivated by this higher ideal. “The laborer toiled not merely to win sustenance,” writes Richard Weaver, “but to see this ideal embodied in his creation.”* The perfume-maker, for example, was motivated by a desire to produce a most excellent perfume. It was with great metaphysical joy that he made more effort and accepted less money in this quest to leave mankind a better perfume.
Interior of J.B. Filz Sohn perfume shop in Vienna. Family owned since 1809, supplying not only the Nobility and the upper middle class with cologne, but also the Imperial Court. Becoming the Court Perfumer of the Imperial family, Wilhelm Filz received from the Emperor the privilege of Hoftitels in 1872.
* Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 73.
John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need To Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 332-3.