Monday, May 8, 2017
Blanca Morales - Florida Catholic
An atrium with dim lights, wine and other edibles, and a single light resting upon a musician strumming his guitar. His shadow, big and towering, dances on the wall a few feet behind him.
Had it not been for a giant statue of Christ to his right, it would have looked like a café scene in Wynwood. But this was a concert organized by one of the local young adult groups at the archdiocesan Pastoral Center.
The music of Mike Mangione, however, could have been found at a hipster venue. The singer-songwriter has performed in pubs and bars and even morning shows, and those who hear him would never assume that they are jamming to music that is inherently Catholic in theme.
Mangione’s music is inspired by beauty, goodness and truth — the three transcendentals that move the heart toward the Infinite. The lyrics speak of love, identity, and longing as inspired by the teachings of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. In fact, Mangione often tours with renowned Catholic speaker and TOB teacher Christopher West.
Catholicism has much to offer the world through art, and often the most effective means do not involve pushing a rosary into audiences’ faces. Not that encouraging rosary praying would be a bad thing, but those who are un familiar with the tenets of the Catholic faith might find some of our dogmas a little daunting. Our vocabulary might leave others feeling like they’ve heard another language.
But art has the ability to speak directly to the heart in a way that the Catechism may not. Bishop Robert Barron would say that before we push truth, a person needs to have had an encounter with beauty; then beauty will lead to goodness, and that goodness ultimately leads to truth.
As incarnate souls, we experience goodness and truth through the beauty we sense, and that’s where art comes in.
Living in a city known for its contemporary art, I often go and explore what the creative world is offering. At times, works have been indeed creative and unique, but more often than not the experience has been disappointing and left me feeling that the art world is lacking in something.
That something, I realize, is the very thing that inspired some of the greatest artists of the past: Michelangelo, Bernini, and Puccini, to name a few.
Throughout history, the Roman Catholic Church has produced great works that still stand as marvels of human culture. Some have said, with a misanthropic note, that the Church no longer produces beautiful works of art. I would like to disagree.
Because we have been created in the image and likeness of the One true Creator, we are imprinted with a desire for beauty, goodness and truth. Because we were created to be united with Him, our souls long for and express a desire for the Infinite, for a God who is Beauty.
This led me to wonder how artists in the archdiocese have been inspired by Beauty itself to create works that honor our faith and lead one to contemplation.
In a time when advertising, television and smart phones cloud our ability to reflect, sacred art invites us to pause and see deeply. Like a window into transcendence, art gives us a glimpse into the mysteries of spirituality as well as the depth of our humanity. And in a city like ours, as beautiful as its skyline and bay may be, we desperately need a glimpse into eternity.
Pope Benedict XVI once said that beauty — which is often expressed in art — has the power of restoring enthusiasm and encouraging the human spirit to rediscover its path. It restores humanity’s confidence to “raise its eyes to the horizon to dream a life worthy of its vocation.”
Where is the art in our archdiocese? I’m going on a journey to discover those gems.
In this series of blog entries, I will be searching for sacred art in the archdiocese and talking to some of the local artists who have offered their talents to serve the greater community. These will be examples not only of noteworthy art, but works that inspire, edify, and evangelize through creativity. As St. John Paul II said to his fellow artists, “Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation — as poet, writer, sculptor, architect, musician, actor and so on — feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole.”
I invite you to join me on this journey of artistic survey and take note of the art in your parish. Take time to contemplate its meaning. What does it say to you personally? What is it telling the greater community? The city? The world?
And let me know in the comments: What do you love most about your parish’s sacred art?