Restoration

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Posted May 06, 2009 in My Dear Family:
A Vision of Art

by Catherine Doherty.

I want to record some thoughts and ideas that have come to me in prayer about the artists of Madonna House.

First and foremost I see the Madonna House artists as humble people. Humility means living in truth, and an artist must live in truth with God, with himself or herself, and, of course, with the world, because it is to the world that he or she must give truth.

I want to record some thoughts and ideas that have come to me in prayer about the artists of Madonna House.

First and foremost I see the Madonna House artists as humble people. Humility means living in truth, and an artist must live in truth with God, with himself or herself, and, of course, with the world, because it is to the world that he or she must give truth.

In what form this truth will be given depends on each individual artist. But whatever it is, it must give the Word: the Word in ceramics, the Word in painting, the Word in sculpture, in any art medium open to humanity.

The goal of the artists in Madonna House is the same as everyone else in Madonna House: living the Little Mandate, forming a community of love.

For that is what they are really going to express: love. I see them forming a community of love amongst themselves that blends into the big community of love that is Madonna House.

I see these artists humble, tolerant, merciful, tender and gentle to all they meet, to each other, and to themselves.

I see them as the just stewards who give out grain in due season, for in a sense they are masters to all their household. As the rich man must share his gold, they must share their talents with people who are blind and cannot see.

Their medium is really clay; their talent given by God is his spittle. They can mix the two together and put it on the eyes of others, so that the blind who do not understand what art is, do not appreciate it, who do not know that creativeness is one of the needs of humanity and one of the gifts of God, will then be able to see and know.

Yes, the artists of Madonna House will read and meditate on the words of Christ who says, Greater miracles than I will you perform (Jn 14:12). And so they will, just because they will bring a new dimension to human lives.

They will bring enthusiasm for art, for beauty, for creativeness to everyone they meet. God has sent them as teachers who teach a new language to their brothers and sisters of the apostolate to liberate their spirits and bring them peace.

To create is to be at peace; in creating artists are one with the Creator. They are like a bridge, like a hyphen between God and man. They are his troubadours of beauty.

With enthusiasm, with tolerance, with humility, with mercy, compassion, and understanding, they must explain again and again and again. And they must not care particularly whether the seeds of their explanation fall on fertile ground. That is up to God; they simply explain again.

They are also the men in the gospel to whom various talents have been given. They have to put those talents to work so that when the master comes, he finds them increased, fruitful, incarnated. Their gifts are to be doubled, quadrupled, and returned to the Lord a hundredfold.

An artist is a dreamer. He dreams in God so that form, ideas, and media come to him again and again, an answer to his dreams in God.

What is a dream in God? A dream in God is always dreamt for others; it is never dreamt for oneself and for one’s own satisfaction. True, the satisfaction of an artist is also one’s product, whatever it may be: a song, painting, sculpture, ceramics, but it is always the smallest part for the Madonna House artist.

The artist must never forget that he is really not totally the creator of his work of art, that God created in him, and God steps back and looks at the creation, whatever it may be, and says, "It is good." That is the true satisfaction of the artist.

The artist is also a pilgrim. He walks many roads without pausing too much unless God wants him to stop. He is a pilgrim of the Absolute in search of ways and means to bring God to all humanity, because he is in search of beauty, in search of ideas.

He or she stands still before God in order to talk to people, and he speaks to God with a silent language and an open heart through his creations. And in this silent journey, God speaks to him.

So the artists of Madonna House must be humble people, people of prayer, of silence, of faith. For they are not going to create, God is going to create through them.

The artist must live constantly in many places. He dwells at the same time in Bethlehem and in Nazareth.

He walks with Christ in his preaching time, he shares Christ’s passion time, he hangs on the cross, but always, always he resurrects, and it is in living in the resurrected Christ that he creates. For dying and resurrecting again with Christ is the miracle that applies so beautifully to the artist.

There are moments when he thinks he is really dead, dead to all ideas, dead to creation, dead to living. But then, suddenly, a gentle wind comes, all the clouds are gone, and the beautiful vision of the new creation is before him.

An artist is pregnant with God and his beauty. An artist eternally brings forth the child, and an artist eternally is pregnant with the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, the giver of ideas.

Yes, an artist is a pilgrim of the Absolute, an artist is a dreamer. An artist, whether man or woman, is a person pregnant with God. An artist is one who gives birth to God in his creations. An artist is a singer who sings the praises of God and brings the face of God and his beauty in his creations.

An artist is a poet whose words constantly, beautifully and rhythmically speak of God. An artist is a singer; an artist is a troubadour.

An artist is an ordinary person who goes about doing the chores of every day whatever they may be because he knows that every work of his hand and of his mind, the sweeping, the washing and the cleaning, the fixing and the mending, the talking to people, are experiences that God puts into his or her hand to share with others.

An artist is a person of open hands and open heart who receives these experiences from God like a woman who cooks receives from the hands of the farmer the raw material of food and transforms them into a feast.

So the artist, making a chalice of his hands and of his heart, takes all experiences, painful and joyful, ordinary and extraordinary, and places them into the chalice and transforms them by love, into his creations.

And both the housewife and the artist follow in Christ’s footsteps, Christ, who took bread and wine and transformed them into himself, to feed man’s need for love, for beauty, for understanding, for joy.

An artist is a person of sorrow but he is also a person of joy. An artist is a person of peace, deep peace. God’s peace is like the bottom of the ocean which allows storms to rage on the surface because storms are often bringers of ideas. For God speaks in the raging wind of the storm as well as in the spring breeze.

The artist is a mirror who reflects God’s image in his creation. An artist is a healer who partakes of the power of the Good Physician because his works must console and heal.

His art however, must also ask questions; so the artist is a disturber of people as well, like Christ is. He does not allow them to fall into a sort of mediocrity.

An artist is an anawim [a person who knows he is poor and totally dependent on God]. He knows that all he has comes from God, so he leans on God.

An artist is a channel of God’s creation. An artist is a person in love with God and with humanity; he or she is a bridge between the two.

Madonna House artists live in humility, in tolerance, in compassion, in love and in passion.

They are like trees standing by the water, which shall not be moved. They receive God’s rain and God’s sunshine and show it to the world.

Lovers of God and lovers of men, humble, simple, they show the world the face of Christ. Hidden in Nazareth, they preach through their works. Hanging on the cross, they preach through their works. Dancing in the temple of the world of creation, of Madonna House, they praise the Lord through their creations.

They are ordinary people with extraordinary gifts; they know they cannot bear the weight of them so they lay them in the hands of God.

From a pamphlet, Vision on the Mountain: The Madonna House Artist, (1995), available from Madonna House Publications.

 

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