He pointed to pieces by Gregory Kroug, a Russian monk and early 20th-century iconographer of the Eastern Orthodox Church; the Madonna and Child by the Gothic painter Duccio; and The Virgin in Prayer by Sassoferrato. He also drew attention to Princeton University, which has recently cataloged images online of icons from Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai.
Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs, a sacred artist who creates custom religious art for homes and churches, discussed with CNA the importance of sacred art as a means to more fully engage in truth. She said art is particularly impactful because humans are both physical and spiritual beings.
"We're made of body and spirit, and, so because of that, the things that we come in contact within a physical world really do affect our soul," she said.
"It's through the visible that we are able to approach the invisible. So the experience of tactile beauty is a hint of the supernatural beauty that we'll be encountering in heaven. I think Thomas Aquinas says that beauty is the attractive power of truth."
She suggested that images be viewed slowly and alongside prayer, noting that it is important to allow the art time to open up to the viewer. She said, during the last Palm Sunday, she brought out books of Western art to help engage her children and herself.
"I was grabbing art history books in our living room and looking at great images of Western art from the Baroque and Renaissance and following through the entire Passion. Then looking at images of the agony in the garden or Christ before Pilate or the crowning of thorns," she said.
"Don't be in a rush. It takes a while for beauty to unfold itself," she said. "Making space to really focus on a single painting or a single work of music, [it] really draw[s] all of your attentive powers to experiencing it. I think that can lead to a much more profound understanding and engagement with it."
She also suggested that Catholics participate in creativity themselves, whether through painting, woodworking, gardening, or knitting.
She said domestic practices may also become transformed into something more valuable for the holiday. She suggested using foods depicted in the Passion, like lamb and unleavened bread, or symbolic dishes, like Good Friday's hot cross buns, which are topped with a cross and cooked with spices used to signify Christ's burial.
"These days of quarantine … you find yourself with a bit more time on your hands, but also maybe feeling a bit more anxious and needing to find some constructive way to occupy yourself and find outlets for hope," she said.
"I think that personal experiences of creativity or making something beautiful is a really great blessing."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Julo also emphasized the value of creativity. He said that the domestic Church is where Christianity began and he stressed the value of fostering an opportunity to honor the Sacred Triduum. He said people should mark Easter with a special action, whether that is through music, poetry, or even a simple walk.
"It's helpful to remember that church began in people's homes. So we in some ways are participating in something that is also very ancient in the domestic space," he said.
"I would encourage people to try to be creative about how they honor the Sacred Triduum. Gather flowers, branches, or greenery for inside. Light candles. Set up a corner in your home with sacred images including members of your family you're not able to share physical space with right now. Before meals, make your dining area festive with a table cloth and your nicest place settings ...Whether alone or with others, ritualize your meals."