About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark is the Director of Music of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. His compositions have been performed worldwide.
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“The following few hints on the selection of voices may be useful: (1) Reject all boys who speak roughly, or sing coarsely; (2) Choose bright, intelligent-looking boys, provided they have a good ear; they will much more readily respond to the choirmaster’s efforts than boys who possess a voice and nothing more; therefore, (3) Reject dull, sulky, or scatter-brained boys, since it is hard to say which of the three has the most demoralizing effect on his more willing companions.”
— Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1912)

Art is an act of love.
published 16 December 2016 by Richard J. Clark

OD SENDS US different kinds of people in our lives. Sometimes, he sends difficult people who remain with us for a long time. Then he sends others, who like angels remind us that “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4)

Or perhaps more portentously, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Not only do we survive, but thrive. And the difficult people? They are angels as well to make us much better at what we do. Or they offer clarity in making life choices. Another blessing. Or they hearken us deeper into prayer….yet another profound blessing.

Difficult people, especially in roles of leadership, often make for difficult times. For an artist, this may yield a mixed result, as it often has shown in history. It may feed into a determination to create more fully. It may also make one more grateful for not just talented people, but instead genuinely good-hearted people—thus clarifying more life choices.

At certain times, an artist requires refuge, as Jehan Alain wrote of his “Le jardin suspendu” calling it the “inviolable refuge”. Taking refuge in prayer, the act of composing sacred music is a sanctuary no one can take away. Perhaps like adoration before our Lord, composing on the Word of God is time spent just being with God. It is an act of supreme love. Like accompanying a lifelong friend, one’s child or spouse, just being with God—whom we love—is more important than anything else in the world. It is more important than accomplishing anything society deems important.

Difficult situations, difficult people, any difficulty can place a person into a distressed state of mind, ranging from clinical depression to simply ordinary unease. Each of us carries a unique cross. This can feel lonely, but recall that God has chosen a cross for each of us to carry.

Some of us may feel called to turn the cross into sacred art, and therefore, prayer. Also, let us not forget to turn joy into prayer! This prayer may refine and focus a further calling, a further decision. But that is secondary to simply being with the God who loved us before we were born. Ps. 139: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Create art.
Create art in prayer.
Create love.

Art is an act of love.