By Andrea Fitzsimons

September 14, 2021

A couple weeks ago, I visited the “Beyond Van Gogh” Art Exhibit at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa and it caused me to reflect. Now that the exhibit is finished, I don’t mind sharing photos and any spoilers. The visual art of Vincent Van Gogh was brought alive with movement and music. I was transported into an experience of his masterpieces. His landscapes and portraits were projected onto the floors, walls, and the spectators touring the exhibit. The venue was Aberdeen Pavilion, or traditionally ‘Cattle Castle’, a massive building with cathedral height ceilings. When I entered, I remembered sleeping inside during a festival before World Youth Day, Toronto, 2002.

I loved it! It helped that I went with some favourite people and could finally eat at a restaurant. After reading about his life and impact on the beautiful screens in the ‘Education Room’, I commented, ‘This is both inspirational and depressing’. Disclaimer: I’m not an art historian and I know little about Van Gogh. I reflected, Van Gogh was capable of producing amazing beauty and at the same time, the inner turmoil it would take to cut off one’s ear, is astounding. In the photos are some of the quotes that impacted me the most. It was hard to capture the deep blues of the paintings, the yellow in the sunflowers, and how perfectly he could nail expressions in faces.

Now, I think, how does this relate to my faith? I would never claim to be a prolific writer, or even a blogger, but here are my thoughts. If Van Gogh experienced this harsh reality and still created such beautiful paintings that we can experience NOW using our technology, there is something to learn. Some people tell me, “the world is in such a horrible state with COVID. The Church is going through a crisis with the scandals of priests and the discovery of the Indigenous children”. While I agree, these are horrible tragedies and atrocities, I also have hope. Please let me share why.

One thing I did study was International Affairs. Another set of tragedies in history were the World Wars. Something positive that was born out of the incredible loss of lives was the United Nations to try and prevent another international crisis and foster cooperation. It is not a perfect system, but it’s a positive shift. Similarly, over the past 2,000 years the Catholic Church has experienced crises. My retention of Church history is not strong enough to give you a sufficient example. What I can offer, is my hope.

I believe firmly that God will use His paintbrush in the next couple hundred years to balance out the darkness we are experiencing in 2021. It will not erase what has happened. Part of the reason Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting is so beautiful is the comparison between the stark navys to the bright yellows. The Light of the World (Jesus) will triumph if we can persevere. This is my hope and optimism. I hope you can find yours today.

You are always welcome to look for this ‘Hope’ at Holy Rosary Parish. Come and meet the community in person at the church: Wednesday 12:15, Saturday 5:00pm, Sunday 10:00am (10:00am on Zoom also — just email the parish to get the link).

If you would like to contribute your voice to the Holy Rosary Blog (or other projects) through Time, Talent, or Treasure please drop us a line! There are many ways to help. Everyone at the parish is a volunteer and sometimes we are not able to put all our great ideas into motion because of a lack of resources. You do not need to be Catholic to volunteer or to be part of our parish family (our family is diverse).

Andrea lives in Ottawa and is a volunteer with the Rectory Renovation Project and Gardening Ministry. She is a lover of Stella Luna food, neighbourhood puppies, organizing, design, friends and family. A long time Roman Catholic, and former missionary, she has felt a renewed need to share her faith during the 2020/21 pandemic as she grew, and she felt that people’s priorities seem to be changing and the reality for going to Mass was adapting.

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