Bradley SantosComment

Let There Be Oil In My Lamp

Bradley SantosComment
Let There Be Oil In My Lamp

Back in September, I had a unique opportunity of going to the 2nd Catholic Creative Summit in Dallas, Texas. Over 100+ people gathered from around the world to be co creator in and collaborators for just a few days in September. One of those nights hand an amazing display of community, talent and Adoration.

Here is a reflection written by @kate Capato one of the dancer to who conceptualized this performance.

Let There Be Oil In My Lamp

Why do we create?  What fuels our work? Why do we do what we do and is it enough? These were the root questions burning on my heart last year.

I wrestled with them quite a bit. The Lord lead me into a deep prayer with these thoughts and the scripture of the 10 virgins was soon brought to my attention. Traditionally, we see this scripture as speaking about consecrated women within the church, yet, God was showing me something new. I came across St. Augustine’s reflection on this very passage from the Gospel of Mathew that totally rocked my world!

St Augustine notes, “{…}the whole Church which consists of virgins, and boys, and married men and married women, is by one name called a Virgin. Whence prove we this? Hear the Apostle saying, not to the religious women only but to the whole Church together; “I have espoused you to One Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Aka, this is US the Church! He continues on to share,

“…Therefore at the last trumpet they all arose. “Now those wise virgins had brought oil with them in their vessels; but the foolish brought no oil with them.” What is the meaning of “brought no oil with them in their vessels”? What is “in their vessels”? In their hearts. Whence the Apostle says, “Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience.” 

There is the oil, the precious oil; this oil is of the gift of God. Men can put oil into their vessels, but they cannot create the olive. See, I have oil; but did you create the oil? It is of the gift of God. You have oil. Carry it with you. What is “carry it with you”? Have it within, there please God. For, lo, those “foolish virgins, who brought no oil with them,” wish to please men by that abstinence of theirs whereby they are called virgins, and by their good works, when they seem to carry lamps. And if they wish to please men, and on that account do all these praiseworthy works, they do not carry oil with them.

Do you then carry it with you, carry it within where God sees; there carry the testimony of your conscience. For he who walks to gain the testimony of another, does not carry oil with him. If you abstain from things unlawful, and do good works to be praised of men; there is no oil within…”

St, Augustine, is sharing that the difference between the wise virgins and the foolish is at the core of why they are doing good. If it is for the Lord, they will not run out of oil! What?! This understanding needed to be shared, proclaimed from the roof tops! We all needed a reminder to ask ourselves why are we doing what we are doing…is it for the Lord alone??


We all needed a reminder to ask ourselves why are we doing what we are doing…is it for the Lord alone??

-Kate Capato

I first contemplated creating a painting to share this discovery but then felt strongly about having it be portrayed in a dance. Now, if only God can provide other faith-filled dancers, I eagerly hoped. Through the Catholic Creatives group I stumbled across a few other awesome dancers and even had the opportunity to meet up a few times prior. I quickly reached out to Michaela Barta who lived states away from me but I knew would be the perfect person to collaborate with. Immediately she latched on to this newly formed desire, even though we had no idea how to make it work states a part. Non-the-less, with eager hearts ready to create beautiful truth for God we pressed forward.

Videos were sent back and forth to each other through social media platforms. Music ideas were texted and emailed to explore. Prayers were shared to ensure rootedness throughout the process and connections were tapped into in order to find our tribe of dancers and a place to actually perform. It was no easy feat finding the right dancers for the work. They had to be strong dancers comfortable with contemporary movement and, most importantly, in love with Christ.

It would have been wrong to have our bodies try to speak something that our
hearts didn’t seek.

As time unfolded and we started to find dancers one by one we connected with the Catholic Creatives group to propose performing this work within their 2018 Summit. They too were so excited about the concept and wanted to help us make it happen. From gathering props, to finding the right venue to work in, we had their awesome support moving forward.

While we started this whole process months in advance, we never had the opportunity to dance in the same location until the week of the show. Long days of rehearsal were scheduled during those days leading up to the performance so that we could get comfortable with each other and sew all the details together bit by bit. There was an air of joy and excitement between each dancer, along with hard work and high hopes that enabled us to bond quickly. However, given we had dancers from all over the place, we only had one day of running it with everyone present. One day! All of this isn’t ideal in the dance world, let alone the creative world, but we made it work and kept giving it to God in prayer.

While I am beyond pleased with all of the dancers and the hard work and passion they put into the piece, it is a bit funny as our actual performance was not our best run. Complications started to arise with last minute changes to the venue,  props not working correctly, and schedule changes we needed to roll with. The show was by no means bad but our rehearsals were on point so we knew its greater potential. We were thrown through a few loops the show day and, I will speak of myself here, I felt extremely weak from the exhaustion of preparation, that my dancing was just so so that night.

However, at the same time, I believe that was exactly what the Lord wished for. Why? Because I think He wanted us to truly live out the message of what we were sharing. Not to deliver subpar work but rather to be detached from others responses. This performance was done in front of top notch artists and it was easy to get swooped into wanting to have them be pleased with it, more then Jesus..aka to be a foolish virgin. Yet, what was most important was our “Yes” to dance for Him. Sure, our hearts desired to make something magnificent for people to enter into, but the lack of its perfection made it all the more beautiful in the eyes of Jesus and personally convicted me to practice what was being shared. As the dance lead into adoration, we looked at the face of our Lord and were reminded of the greatest reason we were there, for Him.

He is our Everything, the WHY we do what we do. Lord, make us truly wise.

Thanks Kate, for an amazing write up. As an audience member all I can do is absorb the performance for what it was, amazing. It was so striking to me that I rushed to get my camera out of my bag and just capture the moment, as raw as it can be.

Here is a summary of what I saw.