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Blog Post #36: How is Your Masterpiece Shaping Up?

By Carol Kurivial, June 29, 2020

Creativity | Catholicism | Artists | Pope St. John Paul II | Creator

Sometime in the past year I read an article about the idea that Catholicism and creativity are natural allies. I do a lot of random reading and usually I take notes, including the title and author of the piece. Not this time. But I did jot a few things down, and when I found those notes recently in one of my journals, I was transfixed by the idea of Catholicism and creativity being interconnected, one perhaps informing the other.

I did manage to remember that the article mentioned a letter that St. John Paul II wrote to artists in 1999. That’s as much as I could recall, but the letter was easy to find. He began with, “To all who are passionately dedicated to the search for new ‘epiphanies’ of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.” He followed with Genesis 1:31 ~ “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.”

If you consider yourself to be an artist…even a self-made artist…and I believe we are all artists of one sort or another…then I suggest you take a look at the letter. You’ll be inspired, I promise, regardless of the condition of your artistic inclinations.

One idea that St. John Paul II talked about that caught my eye was the special vocation of the artist. He makes it clear right off the bat that we are all entrusted with the task of crafting our own lives, which we are called to make a work of art, “a masterpiece.”

When’s the last time you thought about your life as a masterpiece or a work of art? What if the last 24 hours of your life was to be molded into some kind of artistic expression? What would it look like? What would you like it to look like? What changes would you make if you could relive those 24 hours? And how might that change the art piece?

St. John Paul II went on to share that, for the artist, “…art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth.” He made sure to mention that it’s not just about the art created, but about the inner lives of the artists themselves and their impact on the history of culture.

There was no question after reading the article that St. John Paul II believes that the world needs artists and that artists have their unique place…such is their influence on the common good of all people. It’s a huge responsibility when one considers that there is “an ethic, even a spirituality of artistic service, which contributes in its way to the life and renewal of a people.”

It really was a very profound letter, which included the artistic vocation in the service of beauty, and the idea that if you have any kind of an art form (poet, writer, sculptor, architect, musician, actor, gardener, etc.), that you are obligated not to waste this talent, but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of our neighbor and of humanity as a whole.

The Church needs art! The world needs art! Every individual needs art!

That being said, I could never say it better than St. John Paul II, so I’ll close with his own blessing of sorts: 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….Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.”

Bring it on, artists! God will see all that you will do and it will be very, very good! And if you get nothing else out of this blog post, remember this, we are all entrusted with the task of crafting our own lives, which we are called to make a work of art, “a masterpiece.” How is your masterpiece shaping up?

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