I don’t listen to classical music all the time, but sometimes I do, and while driving home recently I heard on the radio a Bach cantata that was inspired by the biblical account of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth. It got me thinking about how many works of art, even in the secular world, have been created by religious instinct.
Think about the glorious music inspired by religion – Handel’s Messiah, so many Mass settings of the great masters, beloved hymns of Christian devotion, and even the joyful Christmas carols we sing each year.
And what about the other works of art, paintings and sculptures? Michelangelo’s Pietà, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper come quickly to mind.
And consider the great buildings, veritable monuments to faith, that have withstood the test of time — the stunning basilicas of Rome, including St. Peter’s; Westminster Abbey in London; the Chartres Cathedral in France, and many other spectacular houses of worship around the globe, Christian and non-Christian alike. Remember how many people around the world, including secularists, were horrified by the devastating fire that ripped through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last spring?
Now the point of this is not to praise great works of music, art and architecture. It’s to praise you, for in fact, you are God’s masterpiece, his pièce de résistance. Take all the great works of art throughout history — those that have been or ever will be — add them all together, and they’re not as valuable as your immortal soul.
You are the Divine Artist’s masterpiece because he has fashioned you in his image and likeness. “What is man that you should think of him; you have made him a little less than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,” Psalm 8 proclaims. And “man is the summit of the Creator’s work,” explains the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (#343)
Someday, all the spectacular works of art will cease to exist. The sacred music will no longer be sung; St. Peter’s Basilica will lie in ruins; and the Pietà will be a pile of dust, only to be scattered by the wind. Your soul, though, will last forever, never to die, unable to be destroyed. The only question is: Where will it reside? Where will it spend eternity? In heaven or in hell?
Something to think about: Your soul is your most valuable possession. Are you taking care of it?