On Saturday morning, July 13, at St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota, Sister Sarah O’Malley, OSB, led a retreat called “God’s Reflection in Life!” Sister Sarah has an M.A. in Theology and is currently doing retreat work in the Diocese of Phoenix. Last year she gave 17 retreats in various parishes and retreat settings in Phoenix.
Sister Sarah led an exploration of God’s providence in the lives of three very gifted, but misunderstood men: composer Mozart of the 1700s; artist van Gogh of the 1800s; and scientist/mystic de Chardin, S.J., of the 1900’s.
Amadeus Mozart is known for many works, of which Requiem (Dies Irae), Ronda Alla Turca, and Eine Klein Nachtmusik are but a few. His childhood was spent on the performance circuit throughout Europe. Music was the center of his life. Though not always supported by the Church, Mozart never lost faith in God.
Vincent van Gogh, whose art and life were supported by his brother Theo, never sold a single painting during his lifetime. He had a deep faith and was able to see God’s handiwork in all of nature and the people around him. His works include the famous Starry Night, Irises, and Sunflowers Field.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a brilliant scientist who studied paleontology and geology. He was also a mystic who felt the presence of God in his life and possessed a great depth of spirituality. His writings were banned by the Vatican and Jesuit authorities and were not allowed to be published in his lifetime. Even so, de Chardin never abandoned his work nor his love for the Jesuits and for the Church. He believed in evolution as part of the Christ-centered plan for the world.
These three men shared a passion for life and followed their gifts in spite of not being understood during their lifetimes. Their lives provide many insights for living our lives as a part of the story or history that leads to God and is centered on Christ.