The Phos Hilaron prayer manifests itself in art. When two thousand years ago family members dared to “draw God” in the catacombs, they defied a principal commandment and were moved to render beauty’s relationship with the divine. To honor their departed loved ones, these early faithful had to paint, and they drew forms that burned within, their passion undeniable.
God is present in great art, drawing upon the existential fire which compels our most talented souls to create. Their subject matter might be considered profane by some, yet the expressive spark honors God within, pointing these artists toward transcendence. Consider this thread – one might call it an arc – stretching from initial impulses thousands of years ago to render the divine, connecting us to the masterpieces of the early twentieth century, the modernity of Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Mario Sironi and their contemporaries. The genius of their line work hearkens to those magnificently pure illustrations adorning catacomb walls along Rome’s Appian Way.
We live in a frenetic time, bombarded by stimuli. The simple, ancient prayer of Phos Hilaron is ultimately about the light. We must see the light through the cobwebs of tradition and our own preconceived notions.
Bathe in the light. Surrender to the profound message of hope for ongoing creation. Allow the aspects of phos (light) and hilaron (gladness) to overtake you.