Page 4, 8th May 1953

8th May 1953
Page 4
Page 4, 8th May 1953 — things to he used in the worship of a Christian
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things to he used in the worship of a Christian

community, imposes a special discipline upon the artist, first, because he has to make a supreme effort towards intelligibility — the splendor forma of St. Thomas which Maritain dcscri' s as a "fulguration of intelligence upon an intelligently arranged piece of matter"—for the sake of the people whom he wants to lead to prayer.

This does not mean a slavish naturalism, but it does, I think, imply that the artist should not go too far beyond what the ordinary worshipper, with good will, can take in.

The ordinary man has his rights and his needs as well as the artist. Secondly, the artist has to work within certain defined limits. These limits are not the limits of a conventional art, nor yet a symbolical one—in the sense that certain things go with cer tain saints, though the Church has imposed certain restrictions in rcpresenting the Trinity for instance— hut they arise from the very nature and end (finis operis) of the work to be done. Namely, the object is to subserve liturgical worship which is essentially social, the act of a communit�.

It seems likely that this principle has not always been kept sufficiently in view though it is trite that by itself it could not solve the problem.

ArtMt's Iiberty

AWIDE liberty is still left to the artist, and in the nature of the case, a statue carved by a 20th century artist is likely to be so different from what the ordinary man expects as to cause him dismay. Yet such a work of art in which the artist has genuinely striven after intelligibility will surely gradually make its way and win the approval and affection of the worshipper. Even so, it means that someone, whether priest or donor, has got to be bold.

The steady deterioration of popular taste can only be corrected by setting before it the right objects rightly made. Books, lectures, education in the merely academic sense are not sufficient.

Art education is an education of the eye and this can be trained only by things. To this we may add a deeper appreciation of the sacredness of matter, leading to an insistence on the true, the genuine (no fakes); and finally, and perhaps especially for the artist, a deeper understanding of the liturgy.




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