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Here’s the abstract from the talk I’ll be giving, and the other talks look juicy, too. Bishop Conley will be there, among others.
The Poet as Troublemaker – Why the Church Needs Artists
Like the angel of God who troubled the waters of a pool to bring healing, the Catholic artist leads his fellow man back to wholeness. In his person, the artist experiences the encounter with reality in a unique way. Through poesis, he voices the response of God, re-calling man to himself, re-making the broken world.
His agony is to bear the weight of glory in form, to utter what cannot be uttered, to become at once fully himself and also negative space for the presence of Christ. The world cannot fathom him, has no category for the subordination of self-expression to Truth. And, sadly, the Church may also be confused about her artists – wary of our worldliness, discomfited by our struggles, embarrassed by our vulnerability, and blind to the need for the trouble and mess we make.
So, the Catholic artist feels at times lonely, unappreciated, misunderstood, unloved within her own home. We must, then, understand ourselves more fully, let the calling to be an artist dwell in us more richly, support one another, and provide for the Church the very forms by which she may grow able to receive and nurture our gifts.
Charlotte will open with her poem A Poet’s Apologia, weave in lines from other poems in which she has taken up this theme, and close with Rooster – a rousing call to artists to ‘be the answer’ the world needs.
Each speaker at the Sept 14-16, 2016 Catholic Artists Conference has a bio featured on the Speakers page at http://www.catholic-artists-conference.com/speakers.html Their abstracts appear as individual blogs here at www.Catholic-Artists.org.
Somehow, the ‘whole me’ will be included in that name, and it won’t be complete until my life is complete. My current name is like a symbol of this fully-known and fully-uttered ‘me,’ who has being within Him. At the moment during Mass when we pray, “only say the word, and my soul shall be healed,” I sense Him speaking this one word: my name. I ‘hear,’ “Charlotte,” but my heart hears that whole name, spoken from outside time into the moment of two small syllables. Each time, I hear my Self spoken back into being, healed, renewed, called forth to be me. What could better prepare me to receive Him than this Love, whose voice continuously upholds my being?? I love this moment! Sometimes, when I need that love to renew the face of my being, I just ask, “Lord, will you just say my name, please,” and He does.
Two paths of mine converged recently: I’ve been working on the 50 Million Names project to see to it that aborted babies are given names and honored by prayer and gestures of love, and I recently prepared for a talk about helping women heal from interior ‘dis-integration’. Into this mix, in God’s timely fashion, came the book Healing the Family Tree, by Dr. Kenneth McAll, a devout Anglican psychiatrist who writes about hundreds of cases in which an emotional or physical illness was cured through the release of spiritual bondage.
His awareness developed as he looked for the roots of illness that baffled all physical and psychological approaches and, finally, began to look backward from the patient into the family history for clues to seemingly incurable problems. In many cases, an instance of abortion, miscarriage, or other ‘loss’ of an unnamed child was found to be at the root of the symptoms. In others, some unquiet spirit within the patient’s blood line cried out for healing prayer. In fewer, outright oppression by evil spirits was involved.
In every case, the patient and the bondage was taken before Jesus Christ in prayer, and the Eucharist received with the intention of release for both patient and relative. I did some research and discovered that McAll’s work had influenced many, many people, including Catholics, to take more seriously the work of consciously praying for the dead, and for the living affected by generational sin, or bondage to dead relatives in unresolved need of acknowledgement, forgiveness, and other release.
McAll quotes Scripture, St. John Chrysostum, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Augustine, Church fathers, the Eastern Orthodox tradition in support of praying not to, but for the dead. He refers to the many Anglicans who are nowadays convinced “that there exists – and that there is an absolute need for – an intermediate stage of purification between death and resurrection” from which the dead may appeal to the living for prayer. Of course, Catholics have already acknowledged Purgatory’s existence (which Anglican author C.S. Lewis termed a ‘hopeful doctrine’) and are already instructed to pray for the souls there. I’m sure I don’t pray enough for them!
What struck me about McAll’s work is that I had never much thought about my own family history. Though I had done some praying for near relations, I began to pray about whether there were any souls in our tree, or any needs within my living family , for which such prayer should be offered. Using a prayer from Catholic priest Father John Hampsch, I headed for Our Lord in the Eucharist and began to pray. I was surprised as a number of ‘needs’ surfaced very clearly.
For example, I had once used birth control pills, and realized that there are probably children I’ve ‘lost’ without even realizing conception had occurred. My husband’s grandmother died during an abortion, and that child was never named or mourned. I have two adult sons living non-Christian lives, who may have fathered children now ‘lost’ to us. A father I know of died without reconciliation with his children, and without Sacramental burial.
A number of other souls came to mind as I prayed, and I believe that, through the prayer united to the Eucharist, release and healing was poured out on our family and friends in ways that I may not ever be fully aware of in this life. I’ve given names at 50MillionNames.org for several babies in honor of these persons for whom I prayed. I offer Fr. Hampsch’s prayer, here, as a gift to anyone else who may feel led to discern her own family’s need for healing in this way. God bless you!
P.S. Here is some more help from Fr. Hampsch, a Claretian priest, on such healing prayer.
There is something you’re avoiding. So you distract yourself with something else. It works for a while, but there’s a catch. The more you tense-away-from The Thing, the more it seems to be pulling you to turn back to it.
Like an exercise in which you pull a rubber band away from a wall, escapism guarantees you’ll need more and more oomph to pull away from the pain, the need, the person, the issue that needs attention. Of course, the more powerful it seems to get, the more you want to get away from it!
That’s the trap. Not only does your distraction ratchet up the level of tension, it also slowly narrows your focus to a point as getting away from The Thing takes more and more of your effort to focus your attention away, away, away.
Jim Robbins, in The Open Focus Brain, discusses ways he helped patients in chronic pain avoid this trap and thereby eased their pain. These are lessons worth remembering and passing on:
- Move toward the pain, relax and try to release any effort you’re exerting to pull away from it.
- Diffuse your focus – engage your senses: What can you smell? How does this fruit taste in your mouth? What do you see all around you? What sounds can you identify in the environment?
- Think about negative spaces in your body (nostrils, the space enclosed by your lungs, the space between your fingers) and in the environment.
I’ve had tremendous improvement in migraine headaches following his advice, but I also recommend it for any situation that pushes your ‘Escape!’ button. Relax, diffuse, engage your senses, contemplate negative spaces. There are more things that are REAL than The Thing! Don’t try so hard to avoid it that you see it alone in your narrow focusing. Staying distracted is a symptom of being tensed away from something you’d do better to face, resolve, accept.
I’d like to know if you take this advice. Please let me hear your story!
This is the post that led to the talk, Women on the Way to Healing: She had a strong faith, a good Catholic husband, ten children, a beautiful home, good looks, a bright and well-educated mind, a healthy lifestyle, and a depression that just wouldn’t quit. She was my friend, and she’s dead. [Read more…]