Surprised Into Prayer By the Vincentian Film Festival

by | Oct 26, 2018 | Formation, Reflections, Social Media, Technology: Issues and Uses

Surprised into prayer by the Vincentian Film Festival

I must admit “Finding Charity in Art: The Challenge of the Vincentian Festival”  surprised me into prayer!

Photo courtesy of Aleteia Rocco Manuel Spezia

As a media-oriented Vincentian, I have been dutifully seeking information about the Vincentian Family Film Festival – “Finding Vince.” This morning I was caught off-guard when I realized I was looking at a slideshow that was calling me to pray! I experienced a movement from my head to my heart. For me, in that moment I realized what the festival was about.

Eleven young people had poured their hearts and their hopes into their paintings presented in a series of slides. As I clicked through slides I began to click more slowly, Then I started from the beginning and paused to pray with each slide. I lost track of time for a bit. Finally,  I realized I would come back to these slides for more.

Eleven moments of prayer

Actually, it was not just one moment of prayer but eleven. The slideshow presentation consisted of eleven original works of art by a class of promising artists aged 15-20 from the Philippines. These young people were expressing themselves through the plastic arts and have sought to give visual expression to their feelings, their faith, and their hopes for the world.

 “What matters is what we have in our hearts,” says Ludgard. In his work, he has sought to enter into contact with poverty and the poor, asking himself, “Who am I and what do I need? Can I open my arms and my heart?”
His inspiration comes precisely from Saint Vincent de Paul and from his charism: helping the poor, being with them, treating them with dignity by giving them “not just money, but understanding and respect—that’s what the poor need.”
Richmond, who imagines God’s love as being as great and deep as only the heavens and the sea can be, says his painting is a call “I’ve left unfinished,” he admits. “I don’t know why; perhaps because everything in Creation needs to be completed by us, and this is our vocation, to complete what is only half-done.”

It should not have been a surprise

It should not have been a surprise! As I prayed over paintings produced by this group of young people I recalled a prayer composed by a Sister of Charity of Halifax, Phyllis Giroux. It was at the dawn of the digital age over two decades ago. She had asked me and another digital pioneer, Sr. Kathleen Burns, IHM, to present a workshop entitled Tools for Prophets in an Information Age. Phyllis had prepared a prayer to begin the workshop. I was touched by her prayer then. Being a hoarder, some 20 years later, I was able to retrieve it from my files, now digitized!

I prayed her prayer more fervently than I did then. I realized anew the profound theology of communication through the arts.

In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was GOD
Through the WORD all things came to be
The earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the earth–
God’s spirit hovered over the water, God said, “Let there be…” and there was.
All that came to be had LIFE in the WORD
That life was the Light of humankind,
A LIGHT that shines in the dark
A Light darkness could not overpower.

The WORD was made flesh and lived among us…

“I have come that you may have LIFE
And have it to the full…
As the Father sent me
So I am sending you,
Go out into the whole world!
Go to the poor, the needy, the blind, the lame.
Proclaim the GOOD NEWS to ALL creation!
How are they to hear without someone to proclaim?
The WORD is on your lips and in your heart!
How are they to hear without someone to proclaim?

Leader: We proclaim

  • justice
  • reconciliation
  • joy
  • peace
  • unity
  • understanding
  • forgiveness
  • God’s love
  • (add others as you choose)

Participants: We proclaim

  • through stories told and stories scrolled,
  • on catacomb walls,
  • cathedrals reaching skyward<,/li>
  • stained glass,
  • in medieval calligraphy,
  • in sculpture and statue,
  • Gutenberg’s press,
  • electrical currents and illuminating light,
  • radio waves, television signals,
  • microwave beams, computers and modems,
  • the world wide web

Leader: We gather in the presence of the God of earth and sea and sky who gifted our ancestors with the desire to communicate, to become community with a mission, and to pass along the Good News to their contemporaries and to future generations, with tools appropriate to their time.


We give you thanks. Communicating God,

For storytelling, clay tablets, parchment and rice paper.

For cathedral windows, scrolls, statues and paintings.

For the printing press, and for radio, television, telephone lines, computers and satellites.

For all the means we use in the work of our Christian mission.

We give you thanks for all those who, sharing your creativity, gave us these tools, and enable us to use them to make God’s love visible in this, our time.

Once again, thank you, Phyllis!

Archival images from Tools for Prophets

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