This article was submitted by Holy Art
When Art Becomes Sacred Art
By Marilyn Nash
The Quote that Offers Guidance
“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.”
~Saint Pope John Paul II~
I love this quote. In fact, I like it so much that I use it on my website, it is my Facebook logo and the signature on my e-mail.
I like it because I believe it; because I know it to be right.
Some artists, rather than acknowledging their creativity as a gift from God, take full credit for their work. I see this as sad because the recognition of creativity as a God-given gift brings a joy which the denying artist does not experience. When we understand that the Creator has given us a spark of Himself, we want to give thanks by using our gifts to honor Him. When we complete a project, be it a painting, sculpture, writing or music, and offer it to the One who gave us the gift to create it, a painting becomes sacred art, the sculpture becomes a religious statue, writing becomes music to God’s ears and one note becomes a symphony.
Art for Prayer
For centuries, people have used icons for meditation and contemplation. Churches throughout the world have crucifixes and crosses which we prayerfully gaze upon as we thank Our Precious Lord for His sacrifices. Beautiful paintings and stained glass represent scripture. When focusing upon a magnificent Renaissance or Baroque sacred painting, it is impossible not to be drawn into the images and visualize yourself as part of the scene.
Art, be it visual, musical or written, is a tool which enables us to reach a greater depth of prayer, and this becomes possible because the artist has used his/her gifts for God.
Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote in his letter to artists:
“Let the beauty that you express by your God-given talents always direct the hearts of others to glorify the Creator, the source of all that is good.”
Art as Prayer
For the artist, art becomes prayer. Each stroke of the brush, each word in a story, and each note in a song is a form of prayer for the artist whose life is devoted to God. It is a prayer of adoration and gratitude. It is a petition and an offering. It is a willingness to work as we have been called. And it is a beautiful calling. Those of us who work for sanctity understand that it is not “our” work but the work of God who guides our brushes and pens. Art is not a spoken prayer. It is a prayer unspoken; a prayer that is communication between God and the artist, where color and form become words.
Famous abstract artist, Wassily Kandinsky said:
“Art is an expression of something spiritual.”
Do We Make the Choice?
We were given free will and in that we were given the choice to say “Yes” or “No.” I, personally, cannot imagine saying “No” to God. I wouldn’t want to and I think that, if you have found your way to this website, you probably feel the same.
“That is why artists, the more conscious they are of their “gift”, are led all the more to see themselves and the whole of creation with eyes able to contemplate and give thanks, and to raise to God a hymn of praise. This is the only way for them to come to a full understanding of themselves, their vocation and their mission.”
~ Saint John Paul II ~ Letter to Artists ~
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.