“May we praise God always in word and deed.”
Christ has ascended to heaven and is no longer visible to us. But He is still present through His Body the Church. He feels pain when the Church suffers.
There are two seasons centered on the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Lent is a time when we recognize the trials and troubles we experience here and now, and we repent of the pain we cause Our Lord. Easter however is a time of praise. We praise the Lord for the great good He has done for us. By ascending with His physical body, he has honored us above the angels. His resurrection and glorification show us the life that will one day be ours.
And so we praise Him by singing Alleluia throughout the Easter season. Alleluia is a song of praise.
Saint Augustine Helps Us Out
It may sometimes seem that we praise God on Sunday when we attend mass, but forget about Him the rest of the week. This is not necessarily so. St. Augustine tells us,
“Provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.”
A Light in the Darkness
There was once a man who lived his life in this way. He bore witness to his faith in his thoughts, words, and actions. During a long sea voyage he became violently ill. If you have ever been sea-sick you know that the last thing on your mind is how you can help others. You are so nauseous and withdrawn that the only action that appeals to you is dying, just to get it over with.
While this may lay there in his bunk, he heard that a sailor had fallen overboard. But even in his weakened state his thoughts turned to any way in which he might be of help in saving the sailor. He noticed an oil lamp near him and with great effort he got up, took up the lamp, and held it up to the port-hole of his cabin. It was all he could do to hold it steady for a few moments before collapsing once again into his bunk.
The sailor was saved and when the sick man had recovered his sea-legs, he sought out the sailor. The sailor said he had already gone under the water twice, each time growing weaker. He was about to go down a third and, he felt, final time, when he raised his hand. Just at that moment, someone held a light up to a port-hole, the light fell upon the sailor's hand and a man caught him by the hand and pulled him up onto the lifeboat.
It seemed such a small thing to do, to hold up a light. And yet it saved a man's life.
What Does Our Work Say About Us?
As artists, the work that we do is an expression of our morals, our values, and our faith. That is why we taking criticism of our work so personally, despite all the advice not to do so. We take it personally because our work is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. We may never become the mythical “rich and famous” artists, a pot of gold at the end of an ever evasive rainbow, but we can still make a difference in the world, no matter how small or insignificant we feel that our contributions may be.
The Acts of the Apostles tells briefly of a woman named Tabitha (Dorcas.) Tabitha was a seamstress in the town of Joppa. She was known far and wide for her good works and acts of charity. We are told that she often made tunics and cloaks for widows. Widows in the ancient world were frequently the poorest of the poor. If they had no relations to care for them, they were often reduced to begging just to get by. Imagine the joy Tabitha brought to them with a simple tunic or cloak to ward off the night chill.
One day Tabitha fell ill and died, she was washed and laid in an upper room where she was greatly mourned. Her renown for her simple acts of kindness was such that when the apostle Peter heard of her passing he hastened from Lydda to Joppa to pray over the woman. The widows gathered and showed to the apostle the garments they had received, the fruits of Tabitha's gifts. Peter prayed over her, then took her hand and told her to rise. Tabitha opened her eyes and sat up.
What does our work say about us? Whether it is an epic poem or a short prayer, a symphony or a small ditty, all of our work, great or small, speaks volumes about who we are.
Do we celebrate life, and joy and community? Or does our work dwell on darkness, death, and selfishness? We must remember that ultimately our true audience is not other people, but God, His angels, and His saints.
Many artists live on commissions. The type of commissions we accept speaks just as plainly as the type of work that we do. Do we accept commissions that force us to compromise our beliefs and values? Or do we turn down those commissions, perhaps at great sacrifice, in order to stay true to who we are?
May we praise God always in word and deed.
7th Sunday of Easter
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.organd can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com