Wednesday, July 28, 2010

John Paul the Great's Letter to Artists









Who doesn't love JPII? Even in the secular world most regard him as a heroic figure for his advocacy on behalf of the weak and poor, and for his role in defeating the Russian Communist regime. Beyond that, John Paul II proved you can be both holy and cool! Not an easy thing to accomplish, but JPII did it with the soul of a saint and the charisma of a rock star. And he had droves of screaming young fans to prove it!

I am definitely part of the JPII generation, as I was only a preschooler when he was chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead the Church. As I grew into adulthood, John Paul became more than the beloved spiritual grandfather I offered prayers for as a child. As a philosophy and theology major in college I relished the opportunity to study JPII's writings, and fell in love with his incredibly insightful encyclicals and beautiful poetry. When he went to his heavenly reward, I wept as though I had lost a family member.

The following is from John Paul II's "Letter to Artists." While the whole letter is wonderful and absolutely worth reading, in true JPII form it's a bit lengthy to post here. I chose to post the tail end of the letter with its rousing plea to artists and the Church to work together for the good of the world. Sounds a lot like what the Catholic Artists of Etsy Guild endeavors to do!



An appeal to artists
14. With this Letter, I turn to you, the artists of the world, to assure you of my esteem and to help consolidate a more constructive partnership between art and the Church. Mine is an invitation to rediscover the depth of the spiritual and religious dimension which has been typical of art in its noblest forms in every age. It is with this in mind that I appeal to you, artists of the written and spoken word, of the theatre and music, of the plastic arts and the most recent technologies in the field of communication. I appeal especially to you, Christian artists: I wish to remind each of you that, beyond functional considerations, the close alliance that has always existed between the Gospel and art means that you are invited to use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man.
Human beings, in a certain sense, are unknown to themselves. Jesus Christ not only reveals God, but “fully reveals man to man”.(23) In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. All believers are called to bear witness to this; but it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed: the human person is redeemed, the human body is redeemed, and the whole creation which, according to Saint Paul, “awaits impatiently the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19), is redeemed. The creation awaits the revelation of the children of God also through art and in art. This is your task. Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.
The Creator Spirit and artistic inspiration
15. Often in the Church there resounds the invocation to the Holy Spirit: Veni, Creator Spiritus... – “Come, O Creator Spirit, visit our minds, fill with your grace the hearts you have created”.(24)
The Holy Spirit, “the Breath” (ruah), is the One referred to already in the Book of Genesis: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (1:2). What affinity between the words “breath - breathing” and “inspiration”! The Spirit is the mysterious Artist of the universe. Looking to the Third Millennium, I would hope that all artists might receive in abundance the gift of that creative inspiration which is the starting-point of every true work of art.
Dear artists, you well know that there are many impulses which, either from within or from without, can inspire your talent. Every genuine inspiration, however, contains some tremor of that “breath” with which the Creator Spirit suffused the work of creation from the very beginning. Overseeing the mysterious laws governing the universe, the divine breath of the Creator Spirit reaches out to human genius and stirs its creative power. He touches it with a kind of inner illumination which brings together the sense of the good and the beautiful, and he awakens energies of mind and heart which enable it to conceive an idea and give it form in a work of art. It is right then to speak, even if only analogically, of “moments of grace”, because the human being is able to experience in some way the Absolute who is utterly beyond.
The “Beauty” that saves
16. On the threshold of the Third Millennium, my hope for all of you who are artists is that you will have an especially intense experience of creative inspiration. May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude.
From this wonder there can come that enthusiasm of which Norwid spoke in the poem to which I referred earlier. People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm if they are to meet and master the crucial challenges which stand before us. Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that “beauty will save the world”.(25)
Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!”.(26)
Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.
May you be guided and inspired by the mystery of the Risen Christ, whom the Church in these days contemplates with joy.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always: she is the “tota pulchra” portrayed by countless artists, whom Dante contemplates among the splendours of Paradise as “beauty that was joy in the eyes of all the other saints”.(27)
“From chaos there rises the world of the spirit”. These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time of great hardship for his Polish homeland,(28) prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human soul to the sense of the eternal.
With my heartfelt good wishes!
From the Vatican, 4 April 1999, Easter Sunday.




God Bless!
Ann
CherubinoCrafts

4 comments:

  1. I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing it. Where can this be found, the whole letter that is. I would love to read it completely.

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  2. Of course!

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_23041999_artists_en.html

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  3. Great Post! Love JP! Thanks for sharing

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  4. sweet!!! i love it! thank you!

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