THE CHURCH HAS been presenting faith and human goodness through the ages. From ancient to modern times, Church architecture has been a tool for evangelisation and formation. The artistry of contemporary Christians also reflects current social situations by not only showing concern for suffering but also promoting goodness.
The Church values the arts. As pointed out by Pope Francis years ago, “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.” These messages include human dignity and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Affirming the complementarity of the arts and faith, the pope said, “In leading us both within and above ourselves, Christian art points us to the love that created us, to the mercy which saves us and to the hope that awaits us.”
Works of art, by reflecting common life experiences, can resonate with people, further awaken consciences and heal broken hearts. For Christians, they can be the symbol of faith and, like the light, can illuminate darkened hearts.
In Hong Kong, as the anti-extradition bill protests pass the six month mark, there seems to be no ray of light on the road to social recovery as yet. Many people have thus got caught up in despair.
Recently, the Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre’s Art for God group organised an art exhibition at the Salesian House of Studies titled, Lead, Kindly Light. Sister Marie-Anastasia Carré of the Community of the Beatitudes, led 11 local art lovers in bringing a light of hope via paintings.
These works gaze at the suffering of Hong Kong people and, with a merciful and compassionate heart, accompany them in darkness. By bringing out the fruit of the Holy Spirit and hope, these works help people see the face of Jesus, who enters everyone’s heart to enkindle hope again.
If Christians wish to understand the message embodied in religious artwork, they must not only acquire basic artistic sensibility, but also value prayer and meditation. If the Church can take account of both arts and aesthetics in catechumenate and faith formation, this can open people’s religious perspective. With this, people may be able to recognise the Word in classical and modern works and realise the repercussions that the Word makes in various cultural and social situations.
Cultivating aesthetic sensibilities helps people discover and appreciate good things in their daily lives. In addition, in Church life, this also helps people to lead a liturgical life and share the faith.
Many faithful in the local Church have been contributing their artistic talents to parishes. Some design stained glass and produce holy icons for parishes. If the Church provides them with more channels and exchange platforms and supports their talents with pastoral care, this will promote a ministry for evangelisation.
This year’s pastoral theme for the Church in Hong Kong, Come, Lord Jesus! offers a good opportunity to listen to other people’s suffering and accompany them. Let us be aware of and promote human goodness via means as the arts in order to comfort other people’s in their grief. SE