Thursday, September 10, 2009

Foundation for Sacred Arts Announces "Seminarian Arts Formation" Initiative

"During their philosophical and theological studies, clerics are to be taught about the history and development of sacred art, and about the sound principles governing the production of its works. In consequence they will be able to appreciate and preserve the Church's venerable monuments, and be in a position to aid, by good advice, artists who are engaged in producing works of art." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 129)

It is this oft-forgotten principle of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that seems to have substantially informed an excellent initiative which was announced today by the Foundation for Sacred Arts:

Now Announcing: The Seminarian Arts Formation Program, 2010

The Foundation for Sacred Arts seeks to facilitate the directive of the Second Vatican Council that seminarians are to be "taught about the history and development of sacred arts, and about the sound principles governing the production of its work" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 129).

The Seminarian Arts Formation Program, to commence in 2010, aims to equip future priests with the knowledge necessary to direct commissions and restorations within their own parish settings that "worthily and beautifully serve the dignity of worship" (SC 122).

This Program will initially be offered as day workshops at Catholic seminaries throughout the country. It will include an exploration of history, style, meaning and value in the sacred arts, the relationship between these arts and the sacred liturgy, and the practical considerations of being a patron of the arts in the parish setting.

If you would like to provide financial support for this program or if you are interested in bringing this program to your seminary, please contact Matthew Bruton at:

The importance of initiatives such as these cannot be underestimated either in their own right or as one important part of a new liturgical movement.

The sacred arts both contribute to the dignity of our worship, and, by means of visible, external signs and symbols, draw us deeper into the invisible spiritual realities which they represent. Accordingly, they should not be treated as unimportant, superficial or inconsequential.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1999 Letter to Artists:
In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God...

Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen.

And as noted also by Pope Paul VI in his Address to Artists in 1965:
You [artists] have built and adorned her [the Church's] temples, celebrated her dogmas, enriched her liturgy. You have aided her in translating her divine message in the language of forms and figures, making the invisible world palpable. Today, as yesterday, the Church needs you and turns to you.

Let us recognize the value and importance of the sacred arts, and let us seek to inculcate that value in our clergy and in each other by supporting and fostering initiatives such as those announced today, and by all other like initiatives no matter how large or small.

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