"What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation – if not beauty?”
—Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to artists gathered in the Sistine Chapel (2009)
The Sparks of Beauty program seeks to provide a space for an imaginative conversation about what it means to be ‘spiritual’ and to ‘live a life of faith’ in 21st century Australia—the two increasingly seen as separate activities.
In his message at the annual meeting of Pontifical Academies, Pope Francis spoke of ‘sparks of beauty and love’ as necessary to heal and mend humanity. Drawing on Pope Francis' insights (and those of his predecessors) that ‘sparks of beauty’ can change the world, this series of talks and resources will encourage a holistic, Catholic and grounded approach to faith and life. By seeking out the insights of speakers from a variety of fields—art, science, music, literature, sport—the program seeks to encourage a new imagining to Catholic spirituality in 21st century Australia.
"Dipping into the soul"
A conversation at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) with educator and artist David Menzies, on the place of art in expressing themes of hope, suffering and the blessed ordinariness of life.
Saturday 10 February
11am - 1pm
National Gallery of Victoria (Education Lecture Theatre)
180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
David Menzies has worked as an educator at the NGV since 2008. He believes in the power of art to positively transform and enrich individuals and communities. David has provided a range of professional learning programs for a number of learning communities including Catholic schools. He was drawn to the Mercy charism within Catholic education because of its vision for a better world and real-time action in bringing it about. David is also a practising artist.
Following the talk, participants will be guided through the gallery's permanent collection and the Triennial exhibit by NGV educators. Please note given the nature of this event, tickets are limited. Register early to avoid disappointment.
Cost: $30pp (incl. morning tea and walking tour)
"Your God is too small"
A conversation with Vatican astronomer Br Guy Consolmagno SJ at Federation Square Melbourne
Thursday 26 April
6.30pm - 8pm
Deakin Edge Auditorium, Federation Square (cnr Flinders & Swanston Sts)
“Only by discovering other planets, do we have a really good idea of understanding what it is to be a planet. ... Only by discovering life elsewhere will we really understand what makes life, life. ... I’m not afraid of finding other intelligences out there—I’m thrilled. I’m not afraid when something in my science challenges something I’d assumed all along in my faith, because I’ll tell you what happens all the time in my science—this bit of science challenges this bit of science, and I don’t throw my hands up and say, “‘The heck with science,”’ but say instead, “‘Wow”, which we know is the first step to a scientific breakthrough... to be able to say “I thought I understood God, but now I see something that makes me realize my picture of God was way too small.”
Br Guy Consolmagno SJ is the president of the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. Having studied planetary sciences at MIT and the University of Arizona, Br Guy worked as a researcher at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps in Kenya and taught physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989. Since 1993, he has worked as an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, and was appointed president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation in 2014.
Cost: $30pp incl. light supper & refreshments.
"Architects and painters, sculptors and musicians, filmmakers and writers, photographers and poets, artists of every discipline, are called to make beauty shine especially, where darkness or drabness dominate everyday life. They are custodians of beauty, heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity, as my predecessors have repeatedly stated. I invite you, therefore, to care for beauty, and beauty will in turn heal many wounds that mark the hearts and souls of men and women today.”
—Pope Francis, “Sparks of beauty: giving a human face to our cities” (2016)