Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hearts Aflame: Reaching for Eternity with God's Love

By Loci B. Lenar

Reaching for Eternity with God's Love

Hearts Aflame is a Catholic youth magazine published during the 1990's by the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA. The apostolate is located in Warren County on Mountain View Road, Washington, New Jersey. The focus of the magazine included the message of Our Lady of Fatima as well as Christian and Catholic themes related to teenagers.

In the early 1990's while visiting the National Blue Army Shrine, which is located on the grounds of the World Apostolate of Fatima, I had the opportunity to meet Sr. Mary Celeste, A.M.I., editor of the publication. In our conversations regarding Christianity and the Catholic faith, she became aware of my experience in promoting art and agreed to have my article regarding artist Benny Andersson published in Hearts Aflame. The article focuses on Andersson's source of inspiration in creating contemporary Chistian paintings. The magazine cover, The Light of Eternity is painted by artist Benny Andersson.

Benny's artwork is timeless and is relevant today as it was in the 1990's. 

The following excerpt is from my article published in the Summer 1992 issue of Hearts Aflame:

Aspiration is a repeated theme in Benny Andersson's paintings.  In The Holy Family, which presents the modern Christian family suspended in the center of the universe protected by God's Guardian Angels, God's light shedding its love, a constant in the vastness of the universe.

The Holy Family by Benny Andersson
As he begins each work, Benny says, "God is very much in my mind, and somewhere just beyond is the idea of glorifying the Creator." As he paints, he says, "There are moments when an enlightenment comes, when the ideas are presented to me begin to take shape."

These are not in any way predictable, and sometimes, he adds, "I can leave a painting unfinished because the idea is incomplete, or I have not the present perspective to see it through to fulfillment. In this kind of instance, I put aside the work and go on to another."

"And the really surprising thing is that at a later time, when I have thought or believed my way to the conclusion, I will return to the unfinished painting and know exactly what it needs."

"I do know that with the moments of enlightenment my perspective brings, there is a deep, uplifting feeling that is just about impossible to put into words. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit energizing me."

He says, "The act of painting gives me a feeling of wonder and love. This is God's greatest gift to me, and I see my career as an artist as a unique opportunity to share these Christian ideas with others."

Benny believes that is true not only of himself, but of other artists whose inspiration comes from religious belief. His paintings he sees as being "like visual prayers. Paint and brushes are sacred tools."

"They serve me in order that I might share the dreams that pour into my soul. There must be an eternal source of beauty that dwells within the sphere of God, waiting to be unveiled."

"I feel artists have a sacred quest to reach toward the source of life with their art."

Copyright 1992 and 2010 Loci B. Lenar

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