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.

Now and Then

Now and then there is an excellent piece of news that doesn’t make headlines but deserves to be passed on if only because it will bring a smile of satisfaction to more than a few if they haven’t heard it … Continue reading

A Wonderful Moment in Time

The twentieth century was dominated by three political systems, communism, fascism and liberal democracy. There had been a fourth, monarchy, at the century’s beginning, but it was undone by World War I, at least as a form of government in … Continue reading

Forces of God and UnGod

We hear incessantly these days that the nation is divided, as indeed it is. However, we never hear about the division that matters most in the long run. It is not the division between conservatives and liberals (much less the … Continue reading

Up From the Bottom (Part Two)

“Those who have not lived before the Revolution do not know the sweetness of life.” So said, with great irony, Charles Maurice de Tallyrand, the renegade bishop who did as much as any individual to empower the French Revolution of … Continue reading

A Gem of Art: The Veiled Virgin

Aleteia: Maybe not as famous as Sammartino’s 1753 Veiled Christ, Giovanni Strazza’s Veiled Virgin is another exceptional sculpture, featuring a human figure covered with a transparent shroud carved out of the very same marble block shared with the rest of the statue. The … Continue reading

A Summer Place

As I write these words, Summer is halfway through. Now, to many people, especially those living in colder climes, this is a magical season — warm, inviting, filled with vacations from work and especially school, sojourns at lake- or seaside … Continue reading