I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while now, collecting articles for several months. But the timing just hasn’t seemed right.
We’re a month or so into social distancing, shelter in place, self quarantine … whichever your situation may be.
I figure we’re all getting a little antsy staring at the same thing every day.
And now that we’ve entered into the joy of the Easter season, it seems like the ideal time to reflect on the role of sacred art in Catholicism and in our faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way:
Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God—the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,” in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier. (CCC 2502)
I believe we can all use a little beauty right about now!
Sacred art is all around us. It begins in our parish church.
In the statues, the stained glass, the Stations of the Cross, paintings. You may take the beauty of these things a little for granted, like me.
But after being locked out for several weeks now, I suspect when we do get back in our church we’ll see the beauty of all the sacred art surrounding us again as if for the first time.
But there’s even more. There’s the music of the Mass. There are famous paintings by the masters that hang in museums. Christian music on the radio. And there are religious paintings or sculptures we have in our home. And that’s just the beginning.
They all glorify God and serve to deepen our faith.
This week’s issue of Genuflect celebrates the benefits of sacred art, how to pray with art, John Paul II’s appeal to artists, the patron Saint of artists, some famous religious art and a choir, and an art project you can do at home to share your Easter joy … even during a quarantine.
During this time of uncertainty, turn to the beauty of sacred art to deepen your relationship with God. And continue to stay safe. You are all in my prayers.
Founding Editor, Genuflect
P.S. I also want to remind you that this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday (a feast that has its own sacred art). I expect Pope Francis and/or the USCCB to make a statement about how to celebrate this during the quarantine and to receive a Plenary Indulgence. But I haven’t seen anything yet. I’ll update the News Page when it becomes available.
Benefits of Sacred Images
The Catechism of the Catholic Church urges us to incorporate veneration of sacred art. But research has shown that looking at beautiful art has a positive physiological effect. All the more reason to enhance your prayer life with religious art.
Praying With Art
Have you ever heard of Lectio Divina, or divine reading? It’s a form of prayer that involves reading a passage and then reflecting and praying on it. Well, the same form of prayer can be done with a piece of art too. Here’s how you can enhance your prayer life with sacred art.
The Art of Praying With Art | Catholic Stand
John Paul II’s Letter to Artists
On Easter Sunday in 1999 Pope John Paul II released his “Letter to Artists.” Himself an artist, the Pope’s letter was a call to action for artists to share their gift with the world. Here are 8 of the most inspiring quotes from the letter.
8 Things St. John Paul II Wanted All Artists to Know | Catholic Link
Pope John Paul II appealed to artists in his 1999 Letter to Artists to use their talents for God. This began a slow movement to recognize the importance of art in the Catholic Church. Here are three people who have answered the call. Their stories may inspire the artist in you.
The Catholic Church Desperately Needs Artists | Catholic News Agency
Patron Saint of Artists
If you ever struggle with writer’s block (raises hand) or a blank canvas, you might try asking Saint Catherine of Bologna to intercede on your behalf. She was a 15th Century cloistered nun who is the patron saint of Artists. Here’s more about her life and why she’s the perfect Saint for struggling artists.
St. Catherine of Bologna, Patron Saint of The Arts | Loyola Press
12 Inspiring Paintings
For centuries artists have brought the lives of Jesus, Mary, the Saints, and the rest of our faith to live for us their beautiful God-given talent. Here are 12 famous religious paintings with the meaning behind each one.
Modern Day Michelangelo
Timothy Schmalz is a world-renowned Canadian sculptor who is glorifying Jesus Christ through his art. He likens it to “visual prayer.” And people … even non-Catholics … are taking notice.
A Modern-Day Michelangelo: Canadian Sculptor Presents The Gospel in Bronze | National Catholic Register
Prince of Peace is Risen
At the age of 8 prodigy Akiane Kramarik painted a portrait of Jesus Christ titled “Prince of Peace.” Through a series of unfortunate events, the painting landed with an owner who hid it away. But last December, 16 years after she painted it, new owners of the painting reunited the artist with her creation. Read the full story and see the reunion video of this amazing portrait.
Art does not just involve paintings and sculpture. Sacred music is another way to bring beauty to the Mass and to evangelize. Read the story of the formation and mission of the amazing Floriani men’s sacred choir.
You Have Never Heard a Sacred Music Choir Like Floriani | The Catholic Gentleman
Temporary Stained Glass
You may have seen the photos on social media recently … a glass door or window on the house painted to look like a stained glass window with a cross in the center. It’s a creative and colorful way to display your joy this Easter season. And kill a little time during the quarantine. Here’s everything you need to know to do this on one of your windows, including the recipe for the paint.
How to Paint Temporary Stained Glass on Windows (With Paint Recipe) | Catholic Icing
Click below to download this week’s free inspirational wallpaper for your desktop and your phone. Or download one of the previous wallpapers
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