The Pietà (1499), a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo and displayed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, is an example of the Catholic Church’s support for the arts.

Let’s Regroup

Sometimes when you find yourself on your heels fighting a tough battle, it’s best to step back, regroup and join forces with your allies.  We are in that situation now, as our very way of life – indeed, the very meaning of who we are as women and men – is under attack.  We need to regroup, and I’d like to invite you on a pilgrimage that I believe will help each of us to do just that: More on that later.

The Battle

As I reflect on the news and topics I’ve covered over the summer, I’m amazed by the number of attacks that God and religion have endured in these past few months.  Who would have imagined, for example, that a large crowd of delegates at a political convention would so vociferously oppose the phrase “God-given talents” in their platform?

Then there is the continuing fight over the HHS mandate.  Remember that?  Yeah, it’s still raging.

We all know by now that we are not in a fight about contraception itself, but we can acknowledge that it is one of the means to which we entered the religious liberty battle.  I, for one, am not surprised that the use of contraception is now so prevalent that our government has decided to include it with necessities that should be provided to all women for free:  The world, full of concupiscence since that first bite of the forbidden fruit, has slowly but surely been normalizing all kinds of immoral behavior in the name of relativism; and the ever-progressing power of technology and the media has raised this to a fever pitch.  Hello, Fifty Shades of Grey.  When did pornography become so socially acceptable that moms are proud to profess their obsession with it?

Then of course there are the battle we’re fighting against a redefinition of marriage, and for the right to life – or at the very least for the right to not pay for abortions with our tax dollars.

All of this is connected.

When we boil it down, these issues arise because of a growing distortion of what it means to be a human person.  These mistaken beliefs lead to mantras like, “What is true for you may not be true for me,” and “If it feels right to me, then it must be right.” Wrong.  As our Catholic faith teaches us, we are called to something much greater than the pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfillment.  We all know the true source of fulfillment, and it doesn’t come from within.  He comes from heaven.

Of course the popular culture would have you think otherwise.  Most people have framed the issue of the HHS mandate, for example, as a “war on women” – the all-male hierarchy of the Catholic Church, along with the male-dominated Republican caucuses in Congress, are trying to suppress women by refusing to pay for their birth control (I’m not sure when birth control became a fundamental human right, but I digress).

The U.S. Bishops have rightly been fighting this solely on the grounds of religious freedom, but there is also room here for us to reflect on how much we participate in the normalcy in this world, as opposed to our universal call to holiness.  Rarely, if ever, does the fundamental idea surface that men and women should be challenging each other to both higher standards and greater holiness.

Our Call: Beauty and Leadership

While the rest of the world chooses the laziness of filth and relativism, we know there is a higher standard.  The truth is that each human person is meant to reflect the incomprehensible beauty of God, so as to lead others to Him.  What we have been seeing in recent days is not beauty, and it certainly is not leadership.

In an attempt to reclaim beauty, Teresa Tomeo has put together a pilgrimage in collaboration with the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums and Corporate Travel, called “Feminine Beauty in the Arts” (also led by Liz Lev, Janet Morana and me!).  We hope this experience will lead the women who join us to a realization that, no matter what the world may value, true beauty – the kind you find on the frescoes of churches all across Rome – is a look that can only be found in the face of someone who knows, loves and serves the Lord.

In the interest of complementarity (and by popular demand), Fr. Mark Haydu has inaugurated a companion pilgrimage for men called “Preparing to Lead.”  The world needs good men to lead the rest of us to greater holiness, and this pilgrimage seeks to inspire fathers and sons do just that.

We will travel through Rome, Assisi and Nettuno, literally surrounded by the Communion of Saints (both in sacred art, and well, quite literally in the tombs). Could there be any place better to band together in an effort to reclaim our culture?  The world is in desperate need of true beauty and genuine leadership, and our Faith demands that we take on this responsibility. These pilgrimages are a step in that direction.

To get more information on the “Feminine Beauty in the Arts” and “Preparing to Lead” pilgrimages, visit the Traveling with Teresa tab at

Anna Mitchell is the news director and anchor for the “Son Rise Morning Show” on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.

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