Courtesy of Canadian Stage

Young adults encounter Christ through Shakespeare

By  Vanessa Chan, Youth Speak News
  • August 11, 2017
What do Shakespeare and Christ have in common?

On the surface, not a lot. But dig a little deeper and the common ground start to become clear, as one group of young adults has discovered through Faith Connections’ Christ and Culture program.

As part of the program, the group attended an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Toronto’s High Park Amphitheatre on Aug. 2.

Christ and Culture is a program intended to connect young adults with the arts and discover the beauty that God has put on Earth through the work of other people.

“When you gather as a group of Catholics and start discussing Christ present in events like this, you really start to appreciate art in a different way, I think in a way that transitions really well to everyday life as well,” said Kataryna Kuzar, program director of Faith Connections.

“Once you start viewing art through the lens of a Christian, you start viewing everyday life through the lens of a Christian.”

Faith Connections is a young adult ministry run by Fontbonne Ministries and the Sisters of St. Joseph Toronto. Its mission is to minister and connect with young adults, age 18 to 39, in the Greater Toronto Area.

So why Shakespeare for the latest instalment of Christ and Culture? 

Shakespeare’s plays are literary masterpieces that have persisted through centuries, and have spoken to audiences around the world. 

Before the play, Kuzar led the group through a reflection on art and beauty, and how God speaks to people through the arts. The young adults discussed the works of art they encountered in their everyday lives, from church architecture to the works of author C.S. Lewis, and how the beauty of that art pointed towards the Lord. Beauty, they concluded, was necessary in the life of faith and of the Church because it was a visible sign of the divine.

For Kuzar, one of the most beautiful moments in Twelfth Night was a line that was repeated several times throughout the play: “Be not afraid of greatness.” It is a line that speaks strongly to her, as St. John Paul II said that often in his ministry, particularly to young adults.

“It’s a great message for the young people, and it’s a message that they need today more than ever,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to be great, and don’t be afraid to be bold, and to love God with all your might.”

One of the pivotal characters in the play was the fool Feste, whose boldness and liveliness was an example of the beauty of not being afraid. 

“I think when it comes to greatness, humanity has placed boundaries around what greatness is, but God intends that to be so much more,” Kuzar added. 

“When you fall in love with Christ, He takes that greatness and stretches it out of that box. To be great is to embrace who you truly are and just love Christ through all of it.” 

(Chan, 25, is a second-year PhD student in psychology at University of Toronto.)

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