Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rose Pacatte: Corita Kent

Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart by Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP on Amazon

I'm writing some reflections instead of my typical book review.

corita kent book coverCorita Kent's art and design have inspired me all my adult life, so you can imagine how excited I am to be living in the same city as the Corita Art Center! At the center's August Open House I met Sister Rose, author of a very recent, short, easy to read Corita biography.

To be human is to be political; (almost) everyone knows about church politics on every level, but I first need to mention the human and ecclesiastical tragedy of the late Los Angeles Archbishop Cardinal McIntyre's impoverished grasp of essential theology and his apparent unresponsiveness to the Spirit of Pentecost that's the Holy Spirit of life, change, resurrection—the power and promise behind the European Reformation movements that changed church and world over the centuries, the wind that inspired particularly USA-based awakenings, revivals, and restorations in the protestant churches. The Spirit that brooded over the canonization of scripture and the transformations of Vatican II, that presides over ecumenical and interfaith exchanges, the Spirit that quickens all creation from death back into life. That's my list to remind my readers how human creatures truly have responded to the stirrings of the HS, so Cardinal McIntyre's extreme unresponsiveness was exceptional. I also made the list because I wonder how Corita's post-Vatican II life and the ministry of the Immaculate Heart Community in general could have been different, but as one of the Narnia characters reminds us, no one ever has been told what might have been.

Continuing more specifically with Corita...

My review title is "Incarnational Artist," because her art and design revealed Corita's profound sense of God's embodied presence everywhere. In Word and Sacrament? In, with, and under nature's fragility, need, and resilience? Of course, but also in commerce, in advertising, in local and international politics—the scandal of a holy God still choosing to accompany us everywhere, to sanctify the routine and the mundane.

Sr. Rose includes some of Corita's family's story, along with general historical and political influences on Corita's life and art. That she decided so early to become an Immaculate Heart sister doesn't surprise me; many young people find personal and career inspiration from teachers and other mentors, but even way back then, how astonishing and unwise that she entered the order immediately after high school with no real discernment time. Corita's journey and that of other Immaculate Heart sisters closely became intertwined because they were a community, individuals with a common call, a common purpose that became a true common union. Sr. Rose documents thoroughly and sadly many of the events that led to the dissolution (not sure if that's the correct word) of the Immaculate Heart community Corita joined. I hadn't realized the new Immaculate Heart community is ecumenical in the fullest sense! That makes my own heart sing, and I need to trust Cardinal McIntyre now comprehends more fully.

Corita most likely means little heart, though I don't know that the artist whose baptismal name was Frances Kent ever explained her choice of what at first was her professed name and later the only name the world knew for her. Each chapter title includes "Heart" as a unifying device. A few examples: Heart in the City; Heart of Hollywood; Heavy Heart; Heart of the World. The book concludes with End Notes, Bibliography, and an Index—helpful features you usually don't find in a book this short. The physical size, type size, and overall feel of the book are attractive and appealing. I plan to read some of the so far almost two dozen other books in this People of God series from Liturgical Press.

My Amazon Review: Corita: Incarnational Artist

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