His Kingdom through the Arts
God created man in His image; In the divine image He created him, male and female
He created them.
Like our Creator, we are also creative beings; the Lord has endowed each
one of us with special gifts that must be used to good advantage.
(cf. Mt. 25:14-30).
In the mindful and loving exercise of our own creative abilities, we reflect the Father's care for His creation, participate in His merciful providence, and offer Him a sacrifice of praise.
We share this praise with others. Through the beauty and appropriateness of our creative works we can touch others and draw them closer to God. Here, then, is artistry, for true art is essentially the communication of truth through beauty. In the beauty of human creations we can catch glimpses of the divine.
This is most fittingly achieved within the context of the Church's worship and
preaching; here is the point of contact with the divine which surpasses
all others; here the message of God's love is best conveyed. Holy
Mother Church has always been therefore the friend of the fine arts
and has continuously sought their noble minisrty, with the special
aim that all things set apart for use in the divine worship should
be truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of heavenly
(Second Vatican Council:Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #122)
Down through the ages the Church has enshrined her Liturgy and Sacraments with elements of beauty, that everything connected with the worship of God might reflect His transcendent beauty, communicate His divine truth, and dispose the hearts of His faithful to receive His grace. No less than in the past, this must be so in our day.
In her Liturgy, the Church exercises and bears witness to her faith. To the attendant faithful she continually proclaims Christ's message of truth and love; this is often their only point of contact with the Church, beauty helps them to grasp the message and better appreciate the graces they receive. Likewise, to those separated from the Church for whatever reason, whose only exposure to her life and ministry may come through some social occasion such as a wedding or funeral, the Liturgy presents an opportunity to grasp at her faith and teachings. These points of contact with the divine should be as beautiful and meaningful as possible that the opportunities for evangelization and spiritual formation might be more successfully taken.
This is the responsibility of us all. We all have our proper roles to play in liturgical celebrations, and artistry - be it in the unity of our motions and responses, the fervor of our singing, the clarity with which God's word is read, the solemnity of the eucharistic proclamation, the eloquence of the homily, or the beauty of the physical and musical surroundings - is required of us all.
The Church has adopted no particular styles of art or music as exclusively her own. She requires only that they be worthy, and fitting to the sacred acts they enshrine. As worthy artistry contributes to liturgical celebration, so does that which is unworthy detract. If, as many are fond of saying, we have lost the sense of the sacred in our day, perhaps we should seek a cause in the disappearance of the beautiful from our life and worship.
In our monastic community we work, therefore, for excellence in all areas of human endeavor, but particularly in sacred art. We strive to develop our own talents and place them at the service of the Church's liturgical life. Through the development of a theology of the esthetics, we endeavor to convey the importance of human artistry to all aspects of life, and particularly to the worship of God.
As our growth permits, we hope to serve as a resource for the training of church artists and the artistic education of religious and clergy. Likewise, as our numbers and talents allow, we hope to devote our own work to the design and fasioning of liturgical objects and other elements which enhance the beauty of divine worship. In this way, in our small monastery at Jacob's Falls, no less than in the great monasteries of centuries past, we strive to work for the upbuilding of God's Kingdom through the arts.