Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of August concerns the artistic community worldwide. He tells us that,”The arts give expression to the beauty of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation. When we admire a work of art or a marvel of nature, we discover how everything speaks to us of Him and of His love.” and he asks us to pray “that artists of our time, through their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation”.
Jesuit Charles Searson, the National Secretary for the Pope’s Worldwide Network of Prayer in Lusaka, Zambia, notes that this month’s prayer for artists is an opportunity “to have our eyes opened to the beauty that surrounds us in the colour, texture, taste and perfumes of nature and in the human world to wonder at the joy of a young child, the beauty of a young woman and the strength of a young man.” He says that there is also another beauty in the face of an old man or old woman “where the crevices and cracks and the gentle smile point to the wisdom, mellowness and mature beauty of age.”
Meanwhile Donal Neary SJ, the National Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Ireland, has also been reflection on this intention and he begins by quoting Pope Francis words from an address in October 2013 in which he said, “In every age the Church has called upon the arts to give expression to the beauty of her faith and to proclaim the gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation, the dignity of human beings made in his image and likeness, and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring redemption and rebirth to a world touched by the tragedy of sin and death.”
Donal notes that most of us can say we are touched by some great work of art – a statue, a painting, a piece of music. And we know that good art lifts the heart and soul, opening it to the mystery of life and creation. Importantly, he points out, good art can also highlight various injustices in the world, and the reality of life for those who exist ‘on the peripheries’. “Maybe our prayer this month can be to be on the lookout for such creations and be grateful,” he suggests, and adds, “Not forgetting also the popular art and music that can raise our hearts to be grateful for the beauty of the world and for reminders of its imperfectness. What Pope Francis wrote of the Vatican Museum can refer to much artistic work: ‘It bears witness to the spiritual aspirations of humanity, the sublime mysteries of the Christian faith, and the quest of that supreme beauty which has its source and fulfilment in God.'”