Up Front and Personal

Attention, All Youth Artists And Art Club Moderators

by Rita Piro

Youth of our diocese take heed! It’s time to sharpen your colored pencils, organize your crayon box, and clean up your brushes and paints. The Tablet’s annual Christ Is Risen Student Artwork Competition is at hand and you are invited to enter your original creation.

Held in collaboration with the Archbishop John Hughes Council of the Knights of Columbus, this endeavor allows the young people of our diocese to express their faith through art on all age levels.

Up until relatively recently, say 500 years ago, art was dominated by religious subjects and themes. The Catholic Church was the first and greatest patron of painters, sculptors, woodcarvers and other artisans because it recognized early on the powerful connection between art and religion. The thousands of statues and paintings that can be found in both the small town churches and massive city cathedrals throughout the world provided easy to understand visual lessons that allowed the faithful of all socioeconomic levels to understand the theology involved in the faith. Many of the masters, including Michelangelo and Raphael, worked almost exclusively for the Church.

Religious art helps us to develop a deeper personal experience of the life of Jesus and His teachings. How many of us have a favorite religious painting, or sculpture or other work of art that no matter how many times we may view it, it still speaks to us of the love of Jesus, encouraging us to continued witness of His mission.

Growing up I loved to color and my most favorite coloring time took place in school. Nothing filled my heart with more anticipation than to see those purple outlined coloring pages, run off by hand on the old time spirit duplicator machines, waiting in a stack on Sister’s desk.

Just about every subject was reinforced through those coloring pages, but none more so than religion. The parts of the Church and Mass, Father’s vestments, Sister’s habit, the sacraments, Bible stories, holy day scenes, the parables and more, all came alive in those simple, sweet drawings. With only crayons and paper, our faith was strengthened and nurtured as we developed our personal relationship with God and God’s people.

If you know a child or youth in grades 1-12, why not make them aware of this opportunity to express their faith in and love for God in their own unique way. Include a message in the parish bulletin, put up announcements in the classrooms, post it on the school and parish websites, send off an email, and preach it from the pulpit!

This is a great opportunity to get our young people involved in and excited about the faith. Whether or not they are a future Fra Angelico is unimportant. They will be providing all of us, young and old, with another new way to meet and know Jesus. Today The Tablet, tomorrow the MET!