Category: Arts and Culture

The term “art” covers a broad spectrum of creativity. In the absolute sense only God can “create,” because creation implies making something out of nothing. Man can imitate his Creator by being creative, however it is more accurate to say that man “produces” or “makes.” In “making” (faciendo) man must work with matter that already exists.

What does the word itself mean? The schoolmen define art as “the right method of producing,” (recta ratio factibilium) in contrast to ethics or morals, which is “the right way of acting, or doing.”

The arts can be visual, as in painting and sculpture; performing, as in music and dance; or literary, as in poetry. Nowadays the term is used in a much wider sense than in past centuries. The crafts, writing, film making, photography, and other media which exhibit what is beautiful, are all styled “art” today.

Culture, on the other hand, is specific and, usually, but not always, ethnic. Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary defines culture as “the personality of a society.” Notice he uses the broader term “society” rather than “race” or “people.” One cannot, therefore, speak of a “nation” as having a culture, because a nation is abstract; it is the people of a nation that produce a culture. Italy does not have a culture, but Italians do. And Italians certainly have subcultures within their generic culture, as Sicilians have personal characteristics far different than Florentines.

Cultures are not created, they are “cultivated.” And that maturation often takes centuries. Is there a “Catholic” culture? Most definitely, but it is not that of a people, but of a religion. The Incarnation of the Son of God, who was born into the Jewish culture, elevated all cultures. He who was not image able, became image able. Culture and art could now express that image ability in a thousand different ways. The best expressions make the matter that we all know, intuitively, as Catholic culture.

Lauda Sion Salvatórem

Lauda Sion Salvatorem is a sequence prescribed for the Roman Catholic Mass of Corpus Christi. It was written by St. Thomas Aquinas around 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV for the new Mass of this Feast, along with Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, Adoro te devote, and Verbum supernum prodiens, which are used in … Continue reading

What do Universities Teach?

Several recent occurrences have put me to thinking about universities in particular and education in general. One was marching in the Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Cambridge, MA, in support of the Blessed Sacrament against the planned Black Mass … Continue reading

What Is Christendom?

The question posed by the title of this article was asked several of us by our august editor. Its immediacy is reinforced by the season of Christmas – which, despite being under sporadic attack by “holiday” partisans, centers on the … Continue reading

Signs of the Time

Recently a future King of England, dressed in an open-collared shirt and without a jacket, slid behind the steering wheel of a car and drove his wife, new-born son and himself away from a maternity hospital in London. He drove, … Continue reading