Saintly patron of the arts

Artists, Augustine Institute, to pay tribute to John Paul II

Nissa LaPoint
St. John Paul II by Elizabeth Zelasko

The Augustine Institute will acclaim the life and canonization of John Paul II through an artistic celebration April 26.

The day before the late pontiff is canonized in Rome, the community will gather for “The Making of Man,” an artistic salute at the Tolle Lege Coffee Bar next to the institute at 6160 S. Syracuse Way in Greenwood Village.

Andrew Whaley, who works at the coffee bar, organized the tribute that begins noon April 26 and continues through the early morning April 27 during the live canonization of the pope in Rome.

The celebration will begin with a small group discussion on Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists.”

“All my friends who are artists love this letter so we’ll discuss it,” Whaley said.

Local artists including Devin Montagne, Elizabeth Zelasko, Justin Jensen and Mark and Nicole Thomason will display their art work of the pope. Montagne will also do a live performance of a painting of the late pope.

Later at 6:30 p.m., John Paul II’s thoughts and legacy will be discussed by a group of panelists, including St. John Vianney Seminary professor Joel Barstad, Augustine Institute associate professor Michel Therrien and Bishop Machebeuf High School theology teacher Marc Lenzini.

“We’re going to talk about the whole concept of the making of man,” said Whaley, who will moderate the discussion. “We’ll also talk about the similarities between art, and teaching, and art in the moral life and in the thoughts of John Paul II.”

Then at 8:30 p.m., Perry West and Elizabeth Wood will perform live music.

Attendees will also be able to watch a performance in the style of Rhapsodic Theatre, a style of theatre John Paul II had developed.

“We’re going to read some of Karol Wojtyła and have a staged reading from Our God’s Brother, which is one of his best plays,” Whaley said. “A few hours before this man is declared a saint, some people dedicated to the new evangelization of which he is architect of, will stand on a darkened stage as he once did and will proclaim the words he used to proclaim.”

At about midnight, the gathering will pray and wait until the live feed of the canonization starts from Rome, which they’ll watch on a large screen.

“We’ll keep vigil and pray until the live feed starts,” he said.

The event is free but donations will be accepted. Food and drink will be available.

An RSVP is requested by emailing rsvp@augustineinstutute.org or calling 303-937-4420.

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Elephant

I grew up in what you might call a genetically-Democratic family, but one in which partisan heterodoxy was not uncommon. My parents voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower twice, for Richard M. Nixon in 1960, and for the occasional Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Maryland. But they were registered Democrats and, when I gained the franchise, it would have seemed somehow unnatural for me to register as a Republican. It would also have been stupid, in that Maryland was already en route to becoming one of the most reliably blue states on the map; and if one wanted a say in anything, it was going to be through the medium of the Democratic primaries.

In my early professional life in Seattle, I worked with and for Republican and Democratic representatives and senators and voted in a happily bipartisan way. But when I returned to Maryland in 1984, I had no hesitation about registering as a Democrat, despite admiring (and voting for) Ronald Reagan. (In fact, I haven’t cast a vote for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1980, when I voted for Jimmy Carter, but was delighted to see him defeated). Still, I told myself that I had to maintain my Democratic registration if I were to have any electoral leverage, however minor, in the Free State.

Declaring myself a Democrat, however, became impossible in principle after the 1992 Democratic National Convention. There, the last senior Democratic office-holder with whom I ever worked, Pennsylvania governor Robert Casey, was denied an opportunity to speak by the nascent Clinton Machine. Why? Because the twice-elected governor of a key state with a rich lode of Electoral College votes was ardently and intelligently pro-life. And pro-life people were heretics – misogynistic outliers to be expunged from the party’s national life – in the Democratic Party of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

So it was with a combination of relief and chagrin that I went to the appropriate county office and changed my registration, declaring myself a Republican – and getting a look from the clerk as if I’d declared myself a member of the Klan.

I now wonder if I’m about to make that journey again: not, of course, to revert to a Democratic Party that has ever more mindlessly arranged its affairs around an absolutist commitment to the sexual revolution and its relentless assault on traditional culture, but to declare myself the 21st-century equivalent, in party terms, of a stateless-person. The Democratic Party once left me. Now, the Republican Party has left me by embracing Donald Trump, a man utterly unfit by experience, intellect, or character to be President of the United States (a trifecta of disqualifiers, I hasten to add, that I would also apply to Mrs. Clinton).

I shall undoubtedly vote for Republicans down-the-ballot in November. Leading Republicans still promote an agenda of national renewal that seems to me more reflective of Catholic social doctrine than anything on offer from the Democrats. Prominent Republicans are still far more likely than prominent Democrats to defend religious freedom and to underscore the importance of the free associations of civil society in a healthy democracy, thus affirming the core Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity. The pro-life agenda remains alive in the Republican Party; its lethal opposite is the declaratory policy of Democrats, ruthlessly enforced within the party. And for all that Republicans have failed in addressing the legitimate concerns of those unable to make it in a globalized economy driven by the IT revolution, I still think Republicans are more likely to come up with creative solutions to the chasm in our society between those who can prosper and those who can’t cope, than are Democrats chained to the notion that legislating further, deeper dependency on the state is the humane way forward.

But I cannot bring myself to cast a vote for Donald Trump for president, even under the rubric of playing strategic electoral defense. And while I hope the Republican Party repudiates Trumpism in the future, you’ll know where to find me if it doesn’t: among those who, taking their cues from Catholic social doctrine, will try to forge a new political instrument for advancing the truths in which we believe – and on which the future of the Republic depends.