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Meet a Catholic Composer at the Cutting Edge

“So-called ‘Christian’ art which tries to use popular language to express the depth of the sacred, I think, is entirely missing the point. That is why reaching for sacred heights in music has never been more important: We have quite the spiritual supplement — dare I say, antidote? — to the vapid morass of modern life, and it should be distributed widely.” 

So says Mark Nowakowski, speaking to the Register last fall from his home in Ohio. 

Although born and raised a Catholic, Nowakowski abandoned his faith by adolescence, describing his local church as akin to “a country club run by old people.” His return to the Church in adult life was due to meeting friends who exposed him to the intellectual rigor of Catholicism. 

“Because God took advantage of my pride,” Nowakowski reflected, “in studying Catholicism in an effort to debunk it, I ran face-first into its spiritual majesty, its brilliant artistic magisterium, its unparalleled philosophical tradition, and the only explanation of the human condition, which I found complete and convincing. I began converting before I was even entirely sure of Christ, because it was the most sensible thing to do.”  

Nowakowski’s appreciation of sacred music also helped to lead him back to the practice of his faith. He came to see that his musical and Christian vocation were very much intertwined. He also says learning about the events at Fatima in 1917 was pivotal to his return to the Church. 

“Fatima,” he concluded, “made sense and explained so much of what is happening today.” 

Given that Nowakowski is a Catholic composer of classical music inevitably raises the question: Does he see himself as a composer who is Catholic or a Catholic composer? 

“I’m not sure I can make such a distinction,” replied Nowakowski. “If art is a real spiritual vocation, as John Paul II suggested in his ‘Letter to Artists,’ then I can no more divide my Catholicism from my vocation as a composer than I can divide it from my vocation as a husband and father.” 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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