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I created this talk for Benedictine College’s Symposium on the New Evangelization. It’s about the role art can play in helping us realize our ideals of virtue and holiness. I linked G.K. Chesterton, his character Innocent Smith (from Manalive) and St. Francis of Assisi to show how Chesterton wove the things he loved most about St. Francis into his character, and thus drew all that joy and abandonment to God a bit closer to himself and his readers.
Quoting Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis, his own biography and autobiography, Manalive, and Orthodoxy, I moved back and forth between the character and the saint, the ideal and the imaginative realization, to suggest that we need such imaginative bridges to move toward full appropriation of supernatural joy, toward holiness. That art may serve to help us realize ourselves more wholly, more fully without any violation of the art, the ideal, or of our own being suggests that Catholics would do well to enter in to the work of creating stories, poems, paintings, and other works with the goal of becoming saints in the process.
Thanks to Jill Stanek, pro-life activist, for publishing this Guest Post about the 50 Million Names Project!
50,000,000! When we reached that abortion toll, I woke up, in a way, to the horror of this ongoing holocaust. I wished then, before Internet, email, and computers in every home, there was a way to give names for all those babies. No way!
My Dear Wormwood,
You’ve read the old manual and are stuck in the old ways. We must constantly come up with new ways to guide our patients to their best end, and away from the designs of the Enemy. New times demand new ploys. I realize this idea is painful, reminding us too clearly that ‘newness’ is the one area in which we actually have no power, but hear me out. In the absence of that creativity-from-nothing trick of the Enemy’s, we still have tricks up our sleeves. Human beings are easily convinced that change itself, or novelty is ‘newness’. Our ace in the hole is that we can keep twisting things back and forth ad nauseum and they keep thinking every shift in what they see is some new thing! Probably they hate to suspend disbelief in magic because they don’t fully believe in the possibility reality could be more delightfully surprising. Whatever their problem, it’s to our advantage. [Read more…]
It often surprises people to find out that I do not prescribe or proscribe activities for the Sabbath. As the author of ‘the Catholic Sabbath book,’ I’m expected to tell people what to do, or not do, to keep the ideal Sabbath. The problem is, my whole approach is exactly opposite – strongly rooted in the real instead of in an abstract ideal.
I’ve found that, in every area of life, Sabbath-keeping included, people need help understanding how ideas get realized – how to move from the Ideal to the Real, or from theory to practice. In this talk, I focus on that process, discussing the role of symbols, of freedom, of gestures, and of leisure in the development of one’s own approach to Sabbath-keeping.
I love the way this process parallels artistic accomplishment. An artist must learn to realize ideas, and so must every individual, garden-variety Catholic. I believe that attention to the design of an authentic and personal Sabbath is the key to making our lives works of art. If I can help open this door for others, I’ll be very happy!