What are YOU creating?

By Andrew Goldstein, Steward for Music

Beauty—as Pope Benedict has taught us—beauty evangelizes, lifts us up to God, so we need to recover that sense of beauty.”
–Archbishop Cordelione of San Francisco

Last week, I wrote about a few simple ways to incorporate sung prayer into your day, especially while we cannot sing congregationally at Mass. Today, I shift focus toward beauty and creativity. 

Earlier this week, I spent some significant time reflecting on the work happening at the Benedict XVI Institute in San Francisco. The Institute caught my attention when they launched a campaign to send thousands of roses to Nancy Pelosi (on the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux) as a prompt for the conversion of her heart. This beautiful campaign, grounded in a month-long commitment for thousands of Catholics to fast and pray the rosary, is a testament to the staying power of beauty. 

What is it about beauty that stops us in our tracks, and points us to God?

In 1999, Pope John Paul II wrote an iconic letter to artists, of which I’ve excerpted clippings below:

“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands.

“God called man into existence, committing to him the craftsman’s task. Through his ‘artistic creativity’ man appears more than ever ‘in the image of God’, and he accomplishes this task above all in shaping the wondrous ‘material’ of his own humanity and then exercising creative dominion over the universe which surrounds him. With loving regard, the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power.

“Beauty is the visible form of the good… The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of ‘artistic talent.’ And, certainly, this too is a talent which ought to be made to bear fruit, in keeping with the sense of the Gospel parable of the talents.

“Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.

We are all created in God’s image, called to the masterful task of mirroring the Creator in all that we do. Whether you explicitly create art or not, your life is a testimony to the beauty of creation. This beauty, when presented authentically, is exactly what the world needs right now. Sometimes that’s encountered through music, visual art, poetry, dance; other times you need a few thousand roses to show up at your door. Nevertheless, we’re all called to be creators, and to live into the creativity that God formed into each one of us.

Now for a simple request:

For those who consider themselves artists of any kind, and who belong to Saint Michael Parish: how are you creating in your day-to-day life? Are you a painter? Musician? Dancer? Photographer? Actor? Sculptor? Typographer? Book binder? Graphic designer? Composer? Poet? How are you using your gifts to mirror God, the Creator? If you are not currently using these gifts, what’s stopping you? Please write me at agoldstein@saintmichaelparish.org and let me know about your journey of mirroring beauty in the world!

For everyone else, how are you leading with beauty in your day-to-day lives? How are you, the co-creator of your family, using your God-given gifts to shape the world around you? Please write me and let me know about your journey of bringing beauty into the world as the sculptor of your life!

Personally, I see a lot of beauty through the lens of music and reflect on that often in the bulletin. I look forward to conversing with parishioners to together expose what’s good, true, and beautiful through your myriad artistic talents.

Parable of The Talents window, Leicester Cathedral

Depicting the story from Matt 25:14-30, the three servants stand on the left. Glass by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, 1880.