On another note, I learned this week that my Angelus column, which I excerpt here usually each Friday, was just awarded, for the third year in a row, First Place for Best Weekly column on Arts, Culture, Leisure and Food by the Catholic Media Association.
Of course I’m honored, humbled and thrilled–though I do get a laugh out of the fact that Arts and Culture is lumped with Leisure (!) and Food. That says a lot about the regard, or lack thereof, in which the American Church holds literature, music, painting, dance…and by extension, the vocation of the artist.
Here’s JPII’s 1999 “Letter to Artists”: well worth reading.
The particular vocation of individual artists decides the arena in which they serve and points as well to the tasks they must assume, the hard work they must endure and the responsibility they must accept. Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labour without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves. There is therefore an ethic, even a “spirituality” of artistic service, which contributes in its way to the life and renewal of a people. It is precisely this to which Cyprian Norwid seems to allude in declaring that “beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up”.
I love that Pope John Paul II right off the bat referenced a Polish Romantic poet (1821-1883) (“The Sphinx,” “Narcissus,” “Chopin’s Piano,” “Tell Her–What?”)
I’d never heard of him. From wiki: “Norwid led a tragic and often poverty-stricken life (once he had to live in a cemetery crypt). He experienced increasing health problems, unrequited love, harsh critical reviews, and increasing social isolation. He lived abroad most of his life, especially in London and, in Paris where he died.”
A cemetery crypt? I would love to have chatted with him.