visual art and the devotional life
by Lee Columbino, SJ

Visual Arts are extremely important for the devotional life. By critically examining the role of the visual arts in contemporary American society, two things can happen: we can become more savvy media users of the images that constantly surround us, thereby allowing us to discern between those images that bring us consolation and those images that bring us desolation, and secondly, by acknowledging such effects of images, we can be more open to the invisible and sacred realm that does surround us.

As such we are seeking to create a discerning disposition that is not only open to finding the sacred, but that actively seeks to find the sacred within our lives — to be the spiritual powers of relating to the visible and invisible of which Evelyn Underhill writes here:

"For the most part, of course, the presence of the great spiritual universe surrounding us is no more noticed by us than the pressure of air on our bodies, or the action of light. Our field of attention is not wide enough for that; our spiritual senses are not sufficiently alert. Most people work so hard at developing their correspondence with the visible world, that their power of corresponding with the invisible is left in a rudimentary state." Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life (New York: Morehouse, 1955)


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