Preface Auguri

Body: 

Contemporary artists in celebration of the eight-hundredth anniversary of the Order of Preachers in this venerable location of Santa Sabina given to Dominic at the Order’s beginnings!

In expressing here my deep gratitude that they accepted this invitation, I would also like to thank them for helping us, through their artwork, to welcome visitors to this house of preaching.

The tradition and rule of the Friars preachers calls on them to learn ‘to recognise the Spirit working in the midst of God’s people, and to discern the treasures hidden in the various forms of human culture, by which human nature is more fully manifested and new paths to truth are opened.’ (LCO 99 § II). This Jubilee exhibition stems from such a desire to search, with others and especially in dialogue with artistic creation, these new paths « ad veritatem ».

Throughout its history, the Order has encouraged a very strong link with the creation of art. We can think of the famous works such as the Last Supper in Milan, or the chapel at Plateau d’Assy. We can recall the majestic artwork of Fra Angelico, or that of Kim en Jong, who forms part of this exhibition by his stained-glass windows in the cloister. We can think of brothers from the last century in the realm of Sacred Art, or those of the ‘New World,’ which make up so fertile an artistic patrimony in dialogue with the cultures they discovered. And, we must remember also the poets and sculptors, writers and musicians whom the Order has supported in the use of their gift and the creation of their art – even if this was not always immediate or easy! Yes, the Order has an almost vital link to art, probably because it is a vital link with the search for those paths towards truth.

But this vital link is not a ‘claim to fame’ for the Order! I think rather, it must be a call to the necessary humility of every quest for the truth. The art exhibited here, through the brilliance of their intuitions, the acuity of the questions they pose, and the mysterious harmony they create between them and the place they occupy, show how the paths of art can lead the human being to a more authentic expression of himself. In this place there is felt a desire for wisdom and harmony irreducible to a purely rational quest for the truth. A place where the human being learns to discern the movement of the Spirit, as a ‘faint murmur of a gentle breeze.’

A house of preaching is not first of all a house where we speak about God. Rather, it should be a house where we learn to pause in order to watch out for this ‘movement’ and to listen for a Word addressed to humanity which calls us to begin a conversation without ever being able to exhaust the mystery. In these weeks at Santa Sabina, these artworks will recall, at the heart of preaching, the need for this search in dialogue for new paths to the truth. Well beyond any ‘message’ that the artist might intend to convey, just as it is well beyond what the preacher intends to express of the Word of God, the truth sets us free to the extent that we welcome its mystery.

 

Fr Bruno Cadoré OP
Master of the Order of Preachers