Art and calligraphy can be a means of evangelization in Pakistan: Father Arthur Charles is convinced of this to the point that he has started placing banners with verses from the Bible, in beautiful writing, on the walls of Saint John Church in Karachi, where he is parish priest, as a means of spreading the Gospel. “One of the aims of this initiative,” the priest explained to Agenzia Fides, “is to bring the Good News of the Gospel closer to our people, but above all to the Muslim faithful, so that they know and appreciate Christ’s message.”
Two years ago the priest noted that right in front of the Church, there are Catholic schools where many students attend lessons. “There are children and young people not only Catholics or Christians of other confessions, but also of other religions, and a large majority are Muslim students. Every day their parents either come to accompany or pick their children up and often spend a lot of time near the school, to wait for the children. So I came up with the idea of using the walls of our Church to evangelize through art and calligraphy,” said Fr. Charles.
“You can read biblical passages, popular prayers such as the Our Father and the Ave Maria beautifully written with calligraphic skill, which also attracts passersby,” he continued. “In this part of the world, the representation of sacred figures is not very widespread: we are trying to spread a culture of Christian art mainly through writing and calligraphy and it is very important to bring out a sense of beauty in the Church.”
Furthermore, on the front of the school building, there is a large poster showing biblical verses and images, which is changed according to the liturgical time or to religious and social events.
The parish priest continues: “I remember what Pope Francis encouraged in the ‘Evangelii Gaudium’: the use of arts in evangelization, especially based on the treasures of the past. One has to be bold and discover new signs and new symbols, to incarnate and communicate the Word in different forms of beauty”.
The parish priest concludes: “Evangelization implies the effort to transform the culture of the community in which we live in order to create harmony with the Gospel. It is very important to reflect on the things that capture our heart. We can use words, but visual art is a very effective means of making God’s message known”.
“There is nothing like this in Karachi. For me and for many other people this is a completely new experience, which I really appreciate,” said Haroon Iqbal, one of the Catholic faithful of the Church of St. John, to Fides. Anwar Arshad, grandfather of a child studying in high school, notes: “My children studied in this school. I come here to accompany them to school. I am very happy to read the verses from the Holy Bible and God’s Commandments. They help me understand the beauty of the Christian faith.” “I come here and wait for my children. I read these writings that lead me to meditation. It’s a wonderful idea,” agreed Syed Iqbal Mehboob.