In typical Catholic fashion, the answer is both/and.
Where were you on April 15 when you first saw flames tear through the ancient wood roof of Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral? What thoughts and emotions gripped you as plumes of smoke rose from that sacred space? And, equally relevant, how did you react days later when protesters hit the streets of Paris waving placards that read “1 Billion for Notre-Dame! Zero for the Homeless!”?
One novice’s encounter with the art of Corita Kent.
“Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.”
With these words, the first of Corita Kent’s “Rules,” she burst into my life as an impish, holy, and joyful maker, beckoning me to keep faith, to embrace uncertainty, to look deeply, and to festively affirm beauty.
Corita’s life and art brought encouragement just when I needed it. After 10 years of life, ministry, and putting down roots in Central Virginia, I had just moved to a motherhouse of women religious, following an intuition I hoped was God’s call.
Find salvation—and solidarity—in these depictions of a black Christ.
When racists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, four young girls attending Sunday school were killed and another 22 people were injured. It was one of many horrific acts of hatred directed at the black community, this time while they were in the midst of prayer.
How art helped me make sense of chronic illness and brought me closer to God.
When I was in my early twenties, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system and disrupt nerve connections. This means that sometimes I lose sensation in my limbs and sometimes I have trouble seeing and thinking clearly. I have come to understand my disease as more than a list of symptoms, however. With the help of those close to me, I have come to accept chronic illness as aspect of my self-identity that shapes my most important relationships, including my relationship with God.
If your faith life seems stuck in a rut, perhaps a new look at an old piece of art may provide the jolt you need.
When I discovered Battistello Caracciolo’s The Calling of Saint Matthew seven years after my return to Catholicism, I was experiencing an ebb in my faith. I longed to reconnect with the force that had impelled me back to the church, but I was not quite sure where to begin. I slumped along with morning readings from the gospels, the prophets, and the Desert Fathers, but the words didn’t sear with the heat of newfound truth like they had before.
Leal’s painting brings us face-to-face with the historical life and death of Jesus.
My initial encounter with the 17th-century Spanish painter Juan de Valdés Leal’s Pietà came at an auspicious moment in my spiritual journey. After having drifted from structured religious expression in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, I was, at the time, in the midst of finding my way back.
The Met Gala doesn’t have the best record when it comes to cultural sensitivity. Will it do the Catholic Church more justice?
My junior year of college, a friend of mine decided to change his major from biology to theater and pursue a strong nagging desire to become an actor. When he announced his decision to our friends, every person began contending with one another to be his date to the Oscars in the event he was ever invited to the awards show.
I did not care about the (very small) chance to one day attend the Oscars. Instead, I requested to be the one he took to the Met Gala.
Latimore’s work invites us to meditate on modern-day saints.
Kelly Latimore first started painting icons while living with the Common Friars, an Ohio-based intentional community whose concern for the earth has been instrumental in shaping the group’s vision. One of its members often posed a question drawn from Matthew’s gospel and quoted in their Rule of Life: “How do we become people who, in Jesus’ words, ‘consider the lilies of the field?’ ” This allegory about arranging our priorities concludes by counseling believers to “seek first (God’s) kingdom and righteousness” or, in other translations, God’s “way of holiness” (6:28–34).
From the archives: It's not what we know about the Wise Men that makes them so intriguing. It’s who they become in our imaginations.
In the mid-1960s a Roman Catholic cardinal and a priest who was a scripture scholar found themselves seated at the same table at a dinner party. The cardinal immediately put forth his grievance. “You know, Father, there are some scripture scholars these days who are saying we don’t know how many Magi there were.”
“I’m not one of them,” replied the scholar.
“I’m glad to hear that . . .” The cardinal did not have a chance to finish,
“There were six.” The scholar opened the palm of his hand and shrugged his shoulders in a “what can I tell you” gesture.
Claretian Father Richard Todd’s nativity collection invites us to see the God who is with us, among us, and for us.
The first biography of St. Francis of Assisi, written by fellow friar Thomas of Celano, recounts an event in the Italian town of Greccio in 1223 that continues to influence the material culture of our Christmas festivities. According to Thomas, Francis wished to “enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem: to see as much as possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he rested on hay.” Francis described his idea to a friend, a nobleman named John.