Pope St. John Paul II understood that if artists are not supported and encouraged by the church, they would earn their keep by secular pursuits, filling the world's demands for Godless imagery. He exhorted artists to create works which would inspire the faithful, and to pursue excellence in their task.
Yet many artists flood the internet, wondering why the church is not responding, to their eagerness to glorify God. They conclude that "false economy" has overtaken the virtue of thrift, where the drive is to think short term.
Recognising God as Artist...
Fr. Ian Petit OSB in his book "How can I pray?" describes how, as a child, he first perceived an encounter with God:
"The fields and hills filled me with awe and reverence, excitement and wonder...
He ponders on the artist, and God as divine artist :
"I have often seen some work of art and felt a desire to meet the person who could create such beauty... that within them something of that beauty must reside.....
After the now famous "Ecce Homo" fresco was defaced in an Italian church by an amateur artist some years ago, I hoped such a mistake might not be repeated.
Then I read of the amateur "artist" who had attempted to restore a Madonna statue in Canada. Ms. Wise had offered her services "for free", and as she was not Catholic, the results were fated to be somewhat dysfunctional.
The Parish Priest responsible for allowing the artistic faux-pas, excused it by admitting that he had not been taught at Seminary about "these things". (Thankfully, people will always forgive a good priest some of their more silly mistakes. )
When Ms. Wise met Lisa.
Considering the words of Fr. Petit, one asks what kind of encounter with God should we expect when viewing Catholic Art? When the amateur artist Ms. Wise met "Christ", it seems she thought of Lisa Simpson.
That is the danger of the church no longer leading culture but reflecting it. The world needs Catholic artists, and Catholic Artists need the support of their church.
As St. Theresa of Calcutta said; "together we can do great things for God."
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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