Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creativity in Faith and Practice

Certain members of what I jokingly refer to as my fanbase (the half-dozen or so people that have been exposed to my creative writing exercises) seem to be concerned that my move away from the professional kitchen and into the office lifestyle will put some sort of damper on my creativity. In truth, I've never felt less creative as a writer than I did when I was in the kitchen! You're busy all day, putting your mental energy into coming up with newer, better ways to do established menus, and your evening hours become dedicated to creating new dishes or searching for new ideals in the pursuit of food.

The subject of creativity has come up a lot, lately, with regards to my upcoming conversion, with some of these same people. There seems to be a general understanding of Catholicism that ranks it as the least 'creative' or the least 'individual' of the Christian communities. Never mind names like Aquinas, Botticelli, or Michaelangelo, I suppose.

No, the contention doesn't apply as much to sacred art as it does to practice of the faith itself. People take the vast selections of what I sometimes call "canned prayers" that are employed by the church as some sort of indication that people shouldn't pray in their own words. Certainly, the number of already prepared prayers is massive. There aren't very many adult catholics who can't at least say the Our Father, the Apostle's Creed, and the Hail Mary in their native tongue, and quite a few older than me remember these in latin. Then, of course, every Mass of every day of the year is formed almost entirely from the lectionary, with only the homily needing preparation by the priest. Similarly, there is the Liturgy of the Hours, which, in its most complete form, is a four-volume cycle of prayers that seems to require a mentat or savant to accurately calculate (actually, it's rather simple, once you find your place). Add this to the various chaplets, devotionals, and prayer cards, and you almost never need to pray in your own words.

Only you do. In fact, you really do. Going to Mass, praying the rosary or a chaplet, or keeping the Liturgy of the Hours can all be personally edifying, but, at the end of the day, we all need to quietly approach God and pray in our own words. He is our Father, after all. Whether you want to write out the prayer first and read it in a more formal tone, or simply dialogue with Him is a matter of your own personal practice... but God is God. Our Faith is a gift from Him, He died for us, and, as we say in the eucharistic prayer, it is right to give Him thanks and praise.

So I would say it's unfair to call Catholicism somehow more restrictive in terms of its access to God. If anything, the Church encourages us to grow and develop in faith until we are in a state of constant, contemplative prayer, as a very young child doting on his or her powerful, wise, and ever-loving Father.

No comments:

Post a Comment