Art and Prayer

Put on the Mind of Christ: The New Evangelization in Art

An introduction by Mary Shivanandan

The new evangelization may be summed up in the words of St. Paul “Put on the mind of Christ.”  John Paul II, who proposed the new evangelization, reminded us in the first words of the first encyclical of his pontificate: “Christ is the center of the world and history.”

Imago Dei is introducing a new feature to our web site.  We believe it will greatly enhance the message of John Paul II’s theology of the body. Without prayer, we cannot know Jesus Christ, neither can we live in communion with Him and others.

Through the Incarnation, the second person of the Blessed Trinity became truly man with a body like ours. Since that momentous event, it has been not only permissible but desirable to portray Jesus Christ, Mary and the saints in works of art. Throughout the last 2000 years, the Church has promoted the arts, to educate Christians in the truths of both creation and faith. Beauty is the handmaid of truth and is a powerful means of drawing us to worship.

Yet how difficult it is in our contemporary world, bombarded with messages contrary to the Gospel, to be mindful of Christ! Our imaginations, especially, are filled with images that distort the saving message.  As a way to clear our vision to see the beauty of the Gospel in this Year of Faith and every year, we propose on this site to bring a masterpiece of Christian art. Its purpose is threefold:

(1) to introduce or re-introduce the treasures of Christian art,

(2) to teach truths of the faith through the Gospel scene depicted

(3) to encourage reflection, meditation and prayer.

The authors of the site are Jem Sullivan, Ph.D. educator, speaker and writer, author of The Beauty of Faith: Using Christian Art to Spread the Good News and Mary Ellen Bork, writer and lecturer on Catholic issues.

First of all Dr. Sullivan will introduce the painting, encouraging you the viewer to identify the Gospel scene and pick out the main subject along with secondary subjects that are often depicted.  Who is in the center of the painting, who in the background or foreground?  What does the artist convey through color, line and movement?  The artist uses all of these means to convey the Gospel message.

Note: Artwork featured on the Imago Dei website is courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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