Ascension has been seriously upping their game over the last few years, and I'm not just saying that because my sister works there. The team has been producing stories with stunning visuals and really rich meaning. They've recently updated their Joy-Filled Marriage series, and thank God they did because speaking as someone currently in marriage prep, let's just say that the gap in production value is noticeable. I've never seen something done by any Catholic organization on marriage that's beautiful, artistic, and shareably short.
Tell people all you want that sex outside of the vision God created for it is wrong. Anyone can do that. But to make someone want the vision that God has for sex, now that is a task for an artist. This video is awesome because it points to God's vision, and lets you feel the difference between that vision and the one the world gives us. The man and the woman dancing are in sync in all of their innocence, strength, and passion.
The team told me that they were given the challenge of addressing sexual honesty in a way that wouldn't be preachy or trite. They said that they instantly knew they wanted to tackle this piece from the perspective of a dance. They couldn't have been more right. There's something so real about how dance shows the complementarity of man and woman, you need only draw attention to it. That's why this can be so powerful, but only 4 minutes long. Christopher West only needed to point to set the stage for the dancers, they did the rest.
The dance is art worth commenting on in and of itself. The choreography captures the dance of man and woman so well. At some moments, the dance is noble, they waken each other's hearts to life, they learn one another, delicately. They embrace with the desperate childlike glee of young love and then chuckle at the jokes that come only with the dignity of years. It makes my heart yearn for marriage even more than I already do. This kind of art should not be an anomaly in the Church. It should be the norm.
My fiance and I did our marriage prep weekend last week. All of us were more or less forced to be there. We watched a talking head video of a Catholic speaker who did a great job explaining to people why they should save sex for marriage and not look at porn. It was fine. It probably didn't do a great job of changing anyone's mind. It is so much harder to create art that lets you taste and feel God's vision for marriage. It's much more costly, but the truth is that it's not worth doing it any other way. We are the only ones who are going to champion the sacraments. Where else are people going to see a glimpse of the beauty God has stored up for them? It has to be us.
We're proud of you guys for the work you're doing over there at Ascension. It always amazes me how many people and how much intentionality is involved with video. Nick DeRose directed the film, Matthew Pirrall produced it, Sean Boyd ran the lighting, Matt Longua did all of the close-ups, Kate Camden and Christopher West visioned the script, and Felicia Cruz choreographed the dance.
For that many people to all work in harmony with each other to create something this effortless is amazing. Nick and Matthew pointed out the light sweeps as a particularly difficult part of creating this. They had to block out their own movements as cameramen so that their angles would be perfectly in line with the light reveals and that they wouldn't get in each other's way. According to Matt: "Our dancers, Felicia and Alrick, were amazingly professional and danced this difficult piece over the multiple takes and nailed it every time. For me personally, moving with them with the camera felt like being a participant in their dance, and was a dynamic that I had not experienced behind the camera before.
That's some next level artmaking right there. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the rest of the series and all that you guys at Ascension have in store for us this year!
This Creation of the Week by Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Catholic Creative and Cofounder of Sherwood Fellows
At that first Summit, I felt in my heart a spring of water push up out of the dry desert clay and begin making a garden of the wilderness inside me just as those mission trips did so long ago. The thirst in my soul is for the Church to look like family again, and when I look around at the men and women who’ve heard the call in Catholic Creatives and answered it, I don’t just see temporary friends, I see brothers and sisters.
I want to share this story because I believe in my depths that if we keep the community safe behind our computer screens, then we will never live to see a New Renaissance.
We’re not sure how or when it happens, exactly. Is it when two creatives sit next to each other and laugh at the same joke from a Summit speaker? Does it start as mutual admiration on a Show-Off Tuesday post? Is it even smaller, like a podcast downloaded, a product purchased, a video watched? Whenever it happens and however it develops, we know one thing for sure: Catholic Creatives is a hub for connection.
I worked in ministry, but couldn’t coax myself to join any Catholic young adult communities. I didn’t want to have to hide the fact that I did yoga in the mornings or listened to NPR. Deep down, I honestly had lost my dream for the utopic Catholic community I saw at that Steubenville conference. I kept my distance, instead making friends in the Dallas start-up circles. That is, until I found Edmund Mitchell’s Facebook profile.
Recognizing the decrease of traditional media among college students, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has boosted its social media, becoming a presence of Truth, Beauty and Goodness in our culture to further develop its mission and promote SEEK2019.
The call came when I was sitting in the Newark Airport, waiting to board a plane for Reykjavik.