Monday: Musing with St. Paul
For some reason (perhaps because Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were already taken), our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, encouraged us to honor and pray in a particular way to St. Paul on Monday. I thought maybe I could carry that practice over into this blog into a weekly reflection. St. Paul, one of the greatest communicators who ever lived, has so much to offer us as Christian artists and communicators.
This past Sunday’s reading is from Ephesians 2:4-10. I’ve linked to my favorite translation of this passage, the New Jerusalem Bible, in which St. Paul uses the word love three times in the first sentence. But what really stands out for me is the way this passage is put together. First, St. Paul reminds us that God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. Secondly, he reminds us that everything we have, we have received as gift, as grace (including the gift of salvation.) Then, only after making sure we have this solid foundation upon which to build our lives and calling, St. Paul tells us not only that we belong to God, but that we are God’s handiwork, God’s masterpiece, whom God has entrusted with a unique and special purpose.
This is a wonderful explanation of the Christian vocation. It is also a wonderful description of the calling of the Christian artist. We are God’s work of art, and our “good works” are to shape our entire way of life, so that we may truly serve the unique purpose for which God made us.
I love that the “first” or most important work of art that we are to craft is holiness–to make our own lives God’s masterpiece. Blessed John Paul II highlights this in his Letter to Artists. This does not take away from our art, from our dedication. Rather, our spiritual lives shape our dedication to our art and form it, so that our writing, music, visual works of art, etc., have an authenticity and transparency that is possible only for those who are deeply in touch with the truth–about themselves and about all of creation.