Art at the service of the liturgy

Our communities here in Via Portuense, Rome are indeed hubs of activity. In every corner of the house, there are workshops where sisters use their gifts and talents to live the charismatic mandate of the Founder to evangelise through the liturgy, the Eucharist and the Priesthood. The striking thing about these workshops is the atmosphere of prayer and silence. This charismatic element of silence goes back to its roots in the Gospel as obedience modelled upon that of Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father. The Lord Jesus who in the Eucharist “reveals to us the meaning of the Scriptures and breaks the Bread for us” asks that we listen and obey him.

Through the liturgy of life and the life in the liturgy, we are committed to the rediscovery and realization of a mystagogical catechesis that strives to understand and communicate the mystery of Christ celebrated through symbols (Rule of Life art. 139). This is one of the reasons why we are so commited is freeing the creative dimension at the service of the Gospel.
Our Founder reminds us:

It is not sufficient to imitate, you have to conceive, create and to know how to combine a delicate artistic taste with the Church’s liturgical spirit. The five fine arts – painting, sculpture, architecture, music and literature, must be at the service of the liturgy. Everything is to be placed at the service of God’s glory: figurative art, that of the sounds and that of the word. To be able to conceive and to portray rightly the picture, it is necessary first of all, to know the mysteries of our religion well, in order to be able to spread the life-giving truths of Christianity. There are many wonderful and effective ways in which you can represent the mysteries of our holy religion, as well as reach out to everyone, including the unbelievers, those who do not know our religion….

How many churches are in need of the care and the charity of the faithful! Think of all the chapels scattered over the countryside, in the mountains, in mission lands. Oh, what squalor and disorder in so many abodes of the God-with-us! This undertaking would be sufficient to take up the whole life’s work of a big Institute! Propaganda Fide collects what is necessary for worship, so as to be able to distribute them to the most needy. There is also the pious work for the poor churches that does something in this regard. Part of your mission is this aspect. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in poverty, but with what thoughtfulness did Our Lady prepare the essentials for him, with what purity of heart she presented them to him! Make much use of music – music that is beautiful, well-chosen and in conformity with the norms laid down by the Church. Sacred music is a great means to attract people and especially to lead the youth to God. Songs that are carefully prepared and well sung lift up the sentiments and direct them to God."

The liturgy speaks many languages: the spoken word, silence, gesture, movement, music, song. This was the first potent message which Fr. Alberione sent out and communicated, especially through the mission of the PDDM. They all find their place in the liturgical space which is the place of their global expression. Art becomes a means by which man can speak with his Creator.

It has been said that artists are the makers of culture. Yet such distortions of God's creation and gifts have driven believers out of the mainstream culture and into their own communities for any artistic expression. Just about every art form, be it music, literature, or visual art, has a Christian alternative. And this has often led Christians to seek out ‘Christian’ art, to the detriment of Christians who see all of art as a way to bring glory to God. Others in the church view art purely as a way to evangelize, ignoring the fact that art is a gift from God that serves many purposes and dimensions. This is the challenge of the apostolic life of the Disciple of the Divine Master, to radically explore the frontiers of such a mission and find concrete and courageous responses to transmit our charism and mission today.
Call back to see our visits to the various workshops: ceramic department, icon workshop of Sr. M. Pacis Huh, editorial office for the liturgical magazine 'La Vita in Cristo e nella Chiesa' and the workshop of Sr. M. Angelica Ballan, pddm.