Seasons of artistic inspiration

Try to imagine the Advent or Christmas seasons without artwork of any kind. No Nativity sets. No Advent wreaths. No ornaments or other decorations, inside or out, at home or at church. No music. No Christmas plays on stage, and no inspirational specials or movies on screens. No paintings of Madonna and Child, angels or other Christmas images on cards or in stained glass.

The seasons would still be profound beyond measure because of the wondrous miracle of the Incarnation. But it’s likely that no other event in human history inspired as much art as the birth of a baby in the most humble of conditions 2,000 years ago.

And so it’s timely that so many stories in this issue of The Catholic Post have a common thread of art. From the historic gathering of artists at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel or students restoring statues in Champaign described on page one to the photo of a gingerbread replica of St. Ambrose Church in Milan on page 8 — with many other related stories and photos in-between — our pages seemed to come together this week as a celebration of the gifts of art and artists among us.

But world-renowned artist John David Mooney of Champaign pointed out to us in an interview this week there is another group related to art we need to celebrate and encourage: patrons. The vital role in the creative process of those who support artists or commission works to the creative process was among the topics discussed at the recent Vatican meeting.

We’re all patrons of the arts in one way or another by what music we listen to or purchase, the movies we view, how we decorate our homes, which live music or theatrical endeavors we support. Are we asking — by our dollars and choices — for the creation of beauty from our artists, or do we support entertainment and art that devalues our society or even offends our Creator?

The churches of our diocese are filled with beautiful art, and on Sunday hundreds of “patrons” who supported the remodeling of Blessed Sacrament Church in Morton will get their first look at what has been created for them. We’ve seen the beautiful stained glass, the baptistry and other furnishings, the Holy Family statue, the blended architecture. Congratulations to all involved, and we hope many come to the open house from 2 to 4 on Dec. 6.

But wherever we worship this weekend, let’s appreciate the art in our churches, and thank those who created and supported it. — Thomas J. Dermody

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