Saturday, August 8, 2015

St. John of the Cross on Bad Sacred Art

It is true, indeed, that every decoration, adornment, and reverence that can be given to images is very small. Therefore those who show little respect or reverence for their statues deserve sharp reproof, as well as those who carve so inexpertly that the finished statue subtracts from devotion rather than adding to it. Some artisans so unskilled and unpolished in the art of carving should be forbidden to continue their craft. Still, what has this to do with the possessiveness, attachment, and appetite you have in these exterior decorations and adornments that so engross the senses that your heart is impeded from turning to God, loving him, and forgetting all things out of love for him? If you fail in this love because of these other objects, he will not merely fail to reward you, but will punish you for not having sought his pleasure in all things instead of your own.


Source: St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, trans. by K. Kavanaugh and O. Rodriguez (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1991), 337–338, 3.38.2.

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