Holy Art

The beauty of Mary

She was beautiful, even most beautiful, as Richard of St. Victor asserts, and also St. George of Nicomedia, and St. Dionysius the Areopagite, who, as many believe, once had the happiness of enjoying the sight of her beauty, and said that if faith had not taught him that she was a creature, he should have adored her as God. And the Lord himself revealed to St. Bridget, that the beauty of his mother surpassed the beauty of all men and angels, allowing the saint to hear him say to Mary: “Thy beauty exceeds that of all the angels, and of all creatures.” She was most beautiful, I repeat, but without injury to those who looked upon her, for her beauty put to flight impure emotions, and suggested even pure thoughts, as St. Ambrose attests: So great grace had she, that she not only preserved her own virginity, but also conferred a remarkable gift of purity on those who beheld her.

-St Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary

Art and Religion

Art is man joining in with God’s beautiful and pointless act of creation. It is sheer gratuity. It is utterly free and frivolous. And in this frivolity, the artist rejoices and glorifies the Creator present within, whether or not the artist knows this. He joins with God in creating the universe out of himself. Therefore art is always essentially religious, even when not explicitly so, and even without the artist’s knowledge.

And to receive a work of art, is to be drawn into this new revelation/manifestation/apocalypse of the artist and of God Himself. We see something truly new, something that cannot be seen and cannot be unseen. If we allow it, we will be drawn into the artwork and so into God.

Art has no function, and if it is for the sake of function, it is not art. It is not there to do a job, to make a point, or to communicate a message. It is pure, frivolous, creation and expression. It is inside, waiting, desiring to come out and be born. It is a child, not a robot. It is the child born of the promise and of grace, not the child of slavery and the law.

When art falls away from this calling, it is no longer art, and will become something boring and all too often ugly. And our souls will be smaller, less bright, and less open as a result.

I feel this has happened within our culture and in the Church too, in our architecture, our music, our artworks, and even our liturgies. There is far too much that reeks of our own ideas and aims, rather than the inspiration and pointless beauty of true art/worship.

What is the solution? Adore God. And if He inspires you to some art, however amateur or fine, do it, and do it for its own sake.

God bless you!

Mother of Light

[I’ve decided to start sharing some art on here. I think we undervalue and underutilise beauty today, and need to reverse that immediately]

‘Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul.’
(Ps 130:2)

God bless you!

The painting is called, Mother of Light, and it’s from http://www.artofamaryknollsister.com/Details.asp?ProdID=628&category=2 (but I found it through pinterest).