Religion – the homeland of artist’s soul
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Speaking today on the theme of culture I would like to refer to the wonderful figure of John Paul II who was so respected in the whole world, especially in the world of Christian culture. Before he became a priest he had been an actor and poet, and that’s why he understood the artistic world well; he knew the role of culture in man’s formation and he also knew the philosophy of culture perfectly well. He often referred to that in his life. In 1980, during the UNESCO meeting in Paris, he said, ‘I am a son of the nation that disappeared on Europe’s maps but thanks to culture it found its place again, among the living and existing nations.’ Culture is a very important carrier of reality. One can speak of fine arts, architecture, literature, music, etc. In his letter to artists (1999) John Paul II tried to present the relationships between the Church and art, ‘In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable. Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery’ (No. 12). John Paul II poses another question ‘Does art need the Church?’ And he makes the observation, ‘How then can we fail to see what a great source of inspiration is offered by that kind of homeland of the soul that is religion? Is it not perhaps within the realm of religion that the most vital personal questions are posed, and answers both concrete and definitive are sought?’ (No. 13). In May we are witnessing a very important event in Czestochowa, which is connected with musical culture, namely the 18th International Festival of Sacral Music ‘Gaude Mater’. Therefore, the letter of the Holy Father makes us reflect and conclude that participation in the Festival means creating culture, i.e. culture that reaches Heaven, containing timeless beauty that helps us see God the Creator. John Paul II compared creators of beauty – artists to the greatest creator – God, the Creator of the world. He stated that human arts contain ‘some echo of the mystery of creation’ (ibid. No. 1). This kind of creation completes in a way the beauty of God’s creation, filling the world with God’s presence and making us understand this world better, deeper and more completely. Apart form God the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, shows us the beauty of the world. The whole Gospel is a colourful and picturesque message. Lord Jesus also leads us to the world which we can imagine now – to the Fathers’ house, where there are many places (cf. John 14:2). People of culture are to help us find on the way to him and the Holy Spirit comes to help their inspiration. Therefore, artists should ask him for help and listen to what he wants to say, to draw abundantly and wholeheartedly from him. Since he guarantees timeless beauty. Today we must see the world of art as a world of wide Christ’s ministry. This is a world of deep religious experiences. Artists cannot actually ignore religion. A truly great piece of art is influenced by some great experience of the one that has created it but most of all, of the One who has created its maker. This is a world that will always draw people, a world that you want to touch, see and live in. Man that meets true beauty will not commit evil, will not be a criminal, will not destroy and kill. Therefore, great humanism is in art but the condition is that art is within great philosophy of life, creation and nature. This also defines Christian culture. The world needs people who can make deep reflections; God the Creator would surely want such people. In fact, art, and our culture, faces an extremely important task and whoever can see God’s sparkle in himself, the sparkle that is artistic calling, cannot ignore this obligation.