Earn credit for Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts through St Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians, Archdiocese of New York.
St Cecilia Academy of Pastoral Musicians, which is at St Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, NY offers a four-course 12 credit, Masters level certificate. Pontifex University will recognize these classes as constituting a concentration in sacred music as part of the Master of Sacred Arts program.
We recommend these courses to all pastoral musicians, whether for credit or personal enrichment in service of the Church.
For more information on the MSA, contact me on email@example.com, or go to www.Pontifex.University
To register for the music courses, follow this link through to the St Cecilia home page.
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
“Ultimately our true vocation and final destiny is to praise God in His Truth, Beauty and Goodness.”
Beauty from Emptiness
A beautiful spirit may shine even through a form that has been weakened. Drawing on both old and new testaments the early church fathers developed the doctrine of “kenosis” from a Greek word meaning emptiness. In the context of a theology of beauty kenosis refers to a humiliation of form, an emptying of one’s self, so that the divine beauty shines more brightly. In the Old Testament this theme is taken up in the suffering servant.
“You are the fairest of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you for ever.” (Psalms 45:2)
“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
In Christian thought this “kenotic veil” is the virtue of humility. Humility dims the beauty of the form and is a guard against the temptation of vanity.
“So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:28)
“Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1Peter 3:3-4)
The so-called “Fools for Christ” took this idea to the extreme. These were individuals who denied themselves everything, including personal dignity, so that Christ may shine more radiantly through them. In such cases the ugliness of the infirmity becomes transfigured to serve the spirit within and becomes an icon of suffering and as such beautiful to behold.
By contrast there is ugliness without spirit, a perversion of natural being that borders on the demonic. Form without content, a hollow shell, it is the antithesis of being. When it manifests itself as art it shows us a world without God. Manifested in our perception of the created world, it offers us a glimpse of Hell, the negation of all that is good and beautiful and true.
An Act of Praise
Recognizing this inner beauty, this divine spark, within all things and drawing it out for others to see is the vocation of the artist. This is an act (Read More)
Can you see Lent as an “interim time?” See how John O’Donohue speaks to you …
When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of dark.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.
“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
by John O’Donohue, To Bless The Space Between Us
The Master 0f Sacred Arts program at www.Pontifex.University offers a formation in beauty for artists, patrons of the arts and anyone who wants to contribute creatively to the transformation of the culture. It is a chance to travel on the Way of Beauty in a way never before available. Our goal is to form the artists who will stand alongside any of the greats of the past, and who will transform the 21st century into a golden age that the will be viewed as important of any of the great cultural movements of past.
This is a range of classes that are rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition as well as practical classes in painting, sculpture and sacred geometry (as part of the Mathematics of Beauty course). While the focus is on visual arts and architecture, this is a Catholic inculturation and formation that will help artists in any discipline (including, for example, literature and music). There are electives that allow for specialization in potentially any of these other creative fields.
It also provides also a theory of Christian culture that will enable any person to consider how their everyday activities can be informed by the pattern of Christ and so contribute to the evangelization of the culture through what is called the New Evangelization.
Every course is unique to the Master of Sacred Arts. You can take the whole program or individual courses; audit or for credit to compliment what you already know or feel you can teach yourself.
Here is a list of courses, for more details see www.Pontifex.University:
You need 30 credits minimum to obtain the MSA degree:
The mandatory subjects are as follows (21 credits):
A History and Practical Theology of Images (including the theory of the Way of Beauty and Christian culture) 3 credits
The New Testament in Words and Images 3 credits
The Old Testament in Words and Images 3 credits
The Bible and the Liturgy 3 credits
The Mathematics of Beauty (harmony and proportion) 2 credits
Fundamentals of Beauty in Architecture (Read More)
Make your public shrine or icon corner with www.waysideshrines.com
Following on from recent articles encouraging people to think about creating ceramic icon corners that can be beautiful and discreet, yet clearly visible signs of faith, here, and here, here is someone who can create such images and also carve beautiful shrines in wood or stone to house them in. It is Jerome Quigley of www.waysideshrines.org.
I met him at an Art and Faith event at St Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island, Illinois this past week. He explained to me that he creates the carvings himself in wood or an artificial granite (used for heavy kitchen surfaces and which can be carved like wood). He can respond to commission and even more interestingly, he has a process whereby he can set images into porcelain. This is not a print, but rather one in which the pigment is set directly into the chemical structure of the substrate porcelain – similar to the way in which pigment is incorporated into the plaster in frescoes.
The tradition of reproducing paintings on porcelain goes back to the 19th century at least. I have recently seen several handpainted porcelain copies of the highest quality made in that time. The look of these hand-painted antique reproductions is the same those that Jerome makes. Here is a 19th-century example. Porcelain has a luminosity to it that you can see in this photograph.
I spoke to him about the possibility of creating icon corners consisting of three images and he was confident that he could produce something beautiful, either on a shrine or as a ceramic piece that could be set in a building by the purchaser, for example. It would need demand from customers for this to happen, but if the business logic is there for Jerome to do it, I am happy to work with him to help create outdoor icon corners.
Here are some more examples of his work. Once again his website is www.waysideshrines.org.
In those days, God delivered the commandments: 1 Ex 20:1-17.
Here is another Lenten reflection from a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, IVE, which is for the week of the 3rd Sunday of Lent. This is by Fr Nicholas Grace who is in Cowdenbeath, Scotland.
“I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery…I am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for wickedness but mercy…on those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Considering this text, I would like, in this article, to focus on two things in a very brief manner.
First: The Natural Law, written by God on every human heart.
Second: What are the Ten Commandments & Why they are so important.
The Natural Law, written by God on every human heart: Every member of Nature, every plant, every animal has a law which makes them tend to their goal, which makes them work.
Every human being has a law and must remain faithful to it if they are going to reach their goal if they are going to function correctly. This is called man’s Natural law.
Why is it called natural? This Law is rooted in a set of natural inclinations to specific goods. Natural inclinations toward Self-preservation, toward having and raising children, toward knowing the truth about God and living in society. It is imprinted in our hearts. It doesn’t have to be taught or learned. Like our DNA or genetic code, we also have this moral code weaved into our very being.
How does it function? -This law, through our intelligence, tells us what is right for us, what is wrong for us, what is good for us & what is bad for us. When our actions conform to this law they help us fulfill our purpose in life & are thereby right & morally good. Similarly, when our actions are at variance with this law, they deter us from that purpose and are therefore wrong & immoral. Some examples: The law of our Nature tells us that…
● Nourishing our bodies is right, but overindulging to the detriment of health is wrong.
● Self-preservation is right, but selfishness is wrong.
● To love another person is good, but to love someone already seriously
committed to another is not.
Now while it is easy to recognize that this knowledge comes naturally to (Read More)
‘For with You is the fountain of life, and in Your Light, we shall see light.’
Many readers of this blog will be familiar, I’m sure, with the idea that there is a theology that is used to explain the stylistic elements of the iconographic liturgical art. However, I am not aware of a metaphysics or philosophical anthropology that has been or could be used to articulate a philosophy of icons.
That is, until recently.
A couple of years ago, on the recommendation of a Dominican friar here in Berkeley, I read two works of the late Jesuit philosopher, Fr Norris Clarke. These were Person and Being, and The One and the Many – A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics. You can see an interview with him shortly before his death in 2008, here, on YouTube in which he talks about his ‘personalist’ Thomism.
More recently, I sat in on a series of excellent lectures on the thought of Fr Clarke as part of a class on the philosophy of nature and philosophical anthropology, taught by Dr. Michel Accad for Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts program. Dr. Accad had invited me to attend so that I might participate by discussing with him why an understanding of philosophy is important for artists today.
There are, incidentally, a number of general reasons why such a class would be included in a sacred arts program – for example, the simple fact that an understanding of the human person and nature is always important for an artist who is seeking to reveal both invisible and visible truths about both through art. However, it occurred to me as I listened and reflected on the subject that Fr Clarke’s Thomistic philosophy, in particular, might be the basis for a philosophy of icons. I offer my thoughts on this as some personal speculation for your interest.
We will start with a brief account of some of the ways in which theology has been used to explain the style of icons.
Take a look at this icon of the Transfiguration,
…we see Christ shining with light. This is understood to be a glimpse given to the Apostles of his heavenly glory. That glory, which is the radiance of his being, is the radiating of an uncreated ‘light of being’, the divine light of the burning bush, that shone without consuming the bush itself. Saints, who through baptism and lives of purity (Read More)
Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.
“The vocation of man is to work towards the perfection of creation, for the artist this vocation is related in a mysterious way to beauty.”
Goodness and Beauty
Pope Saint John Paul II said, “The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of “artistic talent.” (Letter to Artists, paragraph 3)
So the role of the artist whether a painter, writer, musician or any of the wonderfully diverse ways man has found to express his “artistic talent,” must be bound up with beauty. It is an inseparable part of his vocation. To truly understand the role of the artist in salvation history we must understand how to approach God in terms of beauty.
“God saw everything He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
The word “good” is translated from the Greek word “kalon” which emulates the Hebrew word “towb.” “Kalon” is a word that carries with it a much more nuanced meaning than simply good. It is used 559 times in the Bible in 517 verses and is translated in a number of ways such as better, best, pleasing, mercy, prosperity and fair just to name a few.
In two verses in particular it is translated as beautiful.
“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” (2Samuel 11:2)
“He had brought up Hadas’sah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother; the maiden was beautiful and lovely…” (Esther 2:7)
It would not then be too much of a stretch to read Genesis 1:31 as,
“God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very beautiful.”
From the beginning, in the Old Testament, God made the world good and beautiful. In the New Testament, Saint Paul affirmed this teaching in his Letter to Timothy,
“For everything created by God is good (kalon), and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1Timothy 4:4)
Divine beauty is intrinsic to the created world. It is a part of all things.
Those gifted with creative ability rarely, if ever, are able to realize a creation exactly as they intended it to be. This is a manifestation of our fallen nature. Artists (Read More)
Further to my last post (on how we might bear witness publicly, yet discreetly and beautifully through tiled images cemented into buildings), readers have been coming forward with interesting and useful points. For the following I woud like to thank particularly, Raven W.
First the interesting – a number pointed out that Portugal has many blue and white ceramic tiled images. You can see many of these if you do an image search on ‘Portuguese religious tile murals’.
As I dug further I found this photograph of an extraordinary mural on the wall in the town of Avente.
There are charming little decorative details as well. Remember that these patterns reflect a geometry that echoes the mathematical description of the beauty of the cosmos. When we get this right it is decoration with purpose – subtly but powerfully raising people’s spirits to God through cosmic beauty so that they might be receptive to the Word.
I then decided to look further and explicitly search for Spanish architecture influenced by the Islamic art, as a style called Mujedar. I found these in the cathedral of Santa Maria de Teruel, in the town of Teruel:
This external adornment is so important in that everybody sees it. If it is done beautifully enough they will not object, I believe. The onus is on us, artists, architects, patrons, that is everybody, to start thinking about this and looking for opportunities for cosmic beauty in every aspect of our environment. (If you want to know more about the theory behind these designs, then I have just created a course as part of Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts program called The Mathematics of Beauty. This is an extended presentation of the theory introduced in my book, The Way of Beauty.)
Some of you may be wondering where we can get such tiles today? (Now we come to the useful!) I am not in the building trade so there is probably a lot more than I am aware of. But here are some ideas.
Patterns that reproduce the Victorian neo-gothic church floors are produced today for kitchens and bathrooms. I saw a shop on Chiswick High Road in West London, that had William Morris designs in the shop window. These floor designs began as renovations of English gothic floors, such as the 13th century, Westminster pavement in Westminster Abbey by Victorians such as George Gilbert Scott. (Read More)
RCIA, or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is an exciting occasion for the new initiate and the Catholic congregation. Creator Mundi has the perfect gifts to mark this event. As we await Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday, we also celebrate how the body of Christ has grown. For adults entering the Catholic Church, the Easter season takes on a deeper meaning as they are welcomed into a new faith and a new family.
What is RCIA?
Participating in this ritual is how adults become full members of the Catholic Church. Typically, these are people who come to faith later in life, officially called catechumens. They could also be adult believers, those who previously made a profession of faith in Jesus within another Christian community who wish to convert to the Catholic Faith — officially known as candidates. Though their journeys to faith and the Catholic Church differ, both groups undergo the same initiation process.
The rite takes place on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil. During the ceremony, RCIA catechumens and candidates receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. After a long period (sometimes years) of prayer, study, and spiritual preparation, the initiate is now recognized as a fully-fledged member of the Catholic Church.
Thoughtful Gifts To Honor RCIA Initiates
Like all rites of passage, RCIA symbolizes transformation, a spiritual one in this case. Gift-giving is a way to celebrate this transformation and the beginning of a new chapter. It’s also a golden opportunity to equip the new initiate for their spiritual journey, perhaps literally in the form of a rosary or in less tangible ways like a message of encouragement.
What’s available at Creator Mundi?
We offer a wide selection of artwork, jewelry, and religious accessories that will suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Here are some items that are appropriate for RCIA:
- Wall art to proudly display at home.
- Religious pendants and jewelry to express their new faith.
- Greeting cards to deliver messages of encouragement.
- Prayer Devotionals the recipient can carry with them wherever they go.
Find The Perfect Gift
If you know someone who will be participating in RCIA this Easter season, celebrate with a unique gift from Creator Mundi. Browse our store and place your order today.
‘When we give up sin, properly speaking, we’re not making a sacrifice.’
In anticipation of the Second Sunday in Lent, here is another Lenten reflection from a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, IVE, and we are delighted that they have taken the time to do so. This focuses on the nature of sacrifice and is by Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer from their seminary, the Venerable Fulton Sheen Seminary, close to Washington DC.
In common with all that I see in the charism of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, Fr Nathaniel stresses the great joy that is on offer through the Faith. Even in sacrifice, the rewards are greater. This is what attracted me to Catholicism originally – I was lucky I think to be guided to the Church, over 25 years ago now, by someone who was himself a joyful man and was adamant that we can have a happy life in the here and now through Christ.
I have chosen the art to accompany this meditation. In the passage below there is a reference to St Ephrem the Syrian’s commentary, in which he asserts that Abraham reacted with joy when he saw the ram caught in the bush, because he anticipated that this was the Lamb of God and understood, perhaps albeit dimly, what was to come. The last painting below makes this explicit by showing not a lamb or ram, but Christ on the cross in the scene with Abraham. What is intriguing is that the painter is Chagall, who was Jewish.
Fr Nathaniel writes:
The account of God’s call to Abraham and the near-sacrifice of Isaac cannot fail to rattle us, especially in this time of Lent, when we’re reminded more frequently God calls us to sacrifice. There are three things that really call our attention about the whole scene: first, that initial call from God and Abraham’s response, second, the way God describes Isaac, and, third, the reward that Abraham receives for his willingness to sacrifice. In turn, we can apply each of these to our lives, and consider how we respond to the sacrifices that God asks of us.
That initial call from God and Abraham’s response is the first thing that sticks out. “God put Abraham to the test,” we’re told, “and said to him: ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am!’ he replied.” Then God gives instructions on how Isaac is to be (Read More)
“Man is a creative being, as “sub-creator,” he shares in the creative power of God.”
Man as Sub-Creator
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote,
“Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, ’twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we’re made.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf: Including the Poem Mythopoeia. Introd. by Christopher Tolkien (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1989), pp. 97-101.)
In Tolkien’s essay he was primarily speaking about world building, the act of creating worlds of fantasy and fairy tales that are different from our world but are at the same time related to the world we know and have their own internal consistency.
But we could argue that creating a consistent, secondary world extends far beyond the role of the writer of high fantasy. Any artist, whether they are a painter, singer, actor, writer, dancer, etc., creates a secondary world related to the world we know. In order for that secondary world to make sense it must have an internal consistency. And so the term sub-creator can be expanded upon to include any creative individual. A landscape designer or gardener is in effect creating a consistent, secondary world. Indeed all of our lives can be seen as works of art, and we are all sub-creators.
This is what pope saint John Paul II expressed in his 1994 “Letter to Artists .” “Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.” (John Paul II, “Letter to Artists”)
Man is a creative being, he shares in the creative power of God. We cannot create as God does, that is, ex nihilo, out of nothing. But we can reshape the stuff of the world into new and wondrous forms, in imitation of the Creator of all things. In our creativity we mirror the created world, we accentuate the the mark the Creator has left on His creation, we highlight the spiritual relationship that still exists between God (Read More)
The great challenge is
living your wounds through
instead of thinking them through.
It is better to cry
than to worry,
better to feel your wounds deeply
than to understand them,
better to let them enter into your silence
than talk about them.
The choice you face constantly
is whether you are taking your wounds to your head
or to your heart.
In your head you can analyze them,
find their causes and consequences,
and coin words to speak and write about them.
But no final healing is likely to come from that source.
You need to let your wounds go down to your heart.
Then you can live through them
and discover that
they will not destroy you.
Your heart is greater than your wounds.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
Let Creator Mundi help you prepare for the Lent and Easter season. You may ask, how should we as Christians prepare our hearts for this holy season when there may not be strong family or church traditions to guide us? Here we present a few Easter ideas you can use this year and in the future.
Little Ways You To Prepare
There are many little things you can do to prepare yourself for the religious gatherings of the Easter season.
- Lenten Meditation & Texts
- Practice Centering Prayer
- Have Family Discussions About Easter
- Remember Holy Week Events & Services
You could read works of theology that might be on a Reading List or even practice listening to silence as a way to center oneself. Practicing centering prayer or mediation is a wonderful way to get in touch with your faith and the spirit of Easter.
Mark Your Calendar For Holy Week
A good way to prepare for Easter is to plan for attending your church’s Holy Week services. This isn’t just Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, it also includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It’s a good idea to mark those days on your calendar so you can schedule around them. Marking these days with worship alongside your church family will help make your Easter celebration all the more joyful.
Many Christians give up something for Lent and may fast in the days before Easter. Others add volunteering activities or service-oriented tasks that help others during Lent. Either way, Lent is an opportunity to focus on prayer, mindfulness, reflection, and service to others.
Families can spend devotional time together to help each other prepare for Easter. If you have young children, consider reading one part of the Holy Week story together each day. If you have older children, you can read through the Gospels during Lent. It’d be a fun challenge to see how much each person read by Easter.
How Creator Mundi Can Help
At Creator Mundi, we offer a wide selection of distinctive religious art and gifts. Incorporating our unique pieces into your Easter decorations and activities will inspire and encourage you. Browse our collection online or stop by our store in Denver today and see how Creator Mundi can help make Easter memorable. While you’re here, sign up for email updates and stay up to date on sales and new arrivals.
Lent: A Pathway Between Two Gardens
From a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word
We are now in the first week of Lent. In order to aid our passage through this important liturgical season, we offer weekly meditations. Each is written by a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, IVE, and we are delighted that they have taken the time to do so. The first focuses on some general thoughts for Lent and is by Fr Brian Dinkel, Pastor of Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara, CA. He writes:
With due reason, the archetypal setting for the Lenten season is the desert. The arid desolate land that purges us from the attachment to the comfortable life of sin, which goes no further than self-satisfaction. What about Gardens? As much as our senses and inclination to comfort may need some desert time for detachment, so too might our intellect and will need some time spent in the Gardens for conversion. Let us explain.
The Old Testament line that inaugurates Lent for most is: “Remember you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) These words are spoken in a Garden, Eden. In this Garden, through an act of disobedience, Adam and Eve turned from God. This is followed by what Bl.John Henry Newman wittingly describes as “The original excuse.” (Cf., Bl. John Henry Newman, Oxford University Sermons, Sermon 8) First Adam points to Eve saying, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree,” and then Eve places the onus on the serpent, saying, “the snake tricked me, so I ate it.” (Genesis 3,12-13) In another other Garden, Gethsemane, we witness a supreme act of obedience to the Father.
Jesus speaks to His Father with child-like simplicity: “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done.” (Mt 26,42) In this Garden, however, He makes Himself the excuse for everyone else. The Garden of Eden is where life is
springing forth on all sides, but selfishness leads to death. In Gethsemane, death is all-encompassing, but in this garden, selflessness leads to life.
His soul was sad to the point of death. He felt within His soul a sadness that was deep enough to cause the feeling of death. The Greek adjective περίλυπος (perilypos: from peri‐ around + lypé sorrow, grief) means properly, around‐sorrowful, that is, sorrowful (Read More)
When I was studying portrait painting in Florence, several years ago, I was struck by the charm of the old street shrines that can be seen built into the walls of the buildings that line the narrow streets. Many date back to the time of the building itself.
Not all are still obviously the focus for prayer, many seemed to unnoticed in a city in which Renaissance art abounds and much of the population has fallen away from the Faith.
Since then I have wondered, from time to time, if this is something we could do today, in a time and in places where Catholicism is not the dominant faith and the driving force the culture?
My feeling is we might, in many instances, struggle to persuade local government to go along with such a thing. However, perhaps if done tastefully and discretely on private property that is visible from the public street it might be possible.
I suggest that if what is done is truly beautiful, even non-believers would want it and it would, to a large degree, disarm potential critics by removing their desire to be offended by outward signs of the Faith. I have a friend who runs a menswear shop in the UK and he always places a small icon of the face of Christ, a Mandylion, which is just 6′ x 4′ in size, low down on the wall behind the counter. While it is not an obviously bold statement of faith, he deliberately places in such a position that when people pay for their clothes, they will see it on the wall behind the till in such a way that it gives the impression that they are peeking into his personal space and seeing an image that is their for his private devotion. He says that nobody ever objected, and many asked about it.
Non-Christians (and for that matter many Christians too) are much more likely to be irritated if the art is ugly or sentimental. I have often wondered, for example, if the militant secularists are in fact doing us a favor by objecting to the kitsch shopping mall nativity scenes that seem to be standard issue for retailers nowadays. Perhaps they are the unwitting agents of the Holy Spirit? Before my conversion in my early thirties, piped carol music and brightly-colored plastic McChristmasses gave me the impression that Christianity was for saddoes who didn’t (Read More)
“We are made in the image and likeness of the Creator of all things and as such, we share in His creative power. Man is, in effect, as J.R.R. Tolkien put it, a sub-creator.”
The Parable of the Painter
There was once an artist, a painter of consummate skill who conceived a great work. He first spent weeks sketching and refining his inspiration. His studies for the various elements were works of art in themselves. When he was satisfied that he had captured his vision he began the task of preparing his support.
He spent days searching for the finest canvas, and days more stretching and preparing the canvas for paint. He sealed the surface with a foundation of gesso, sanding and reapplying until the ground held the perfect tension upon which to paint.
The paints he mixed himself, grinding the pigments and mixing them with a medium of his own invention. Finally, after many weeks, he was prepared to begin the painting.
He worked with skill and confidence. His brush never hesitating or erring. His composition was perfect, it held the eye and the imagination to such an extent that the viewer lost all track of time, gazing in endless wonder at the arrangement of the elements. The colors showed a harmony seldom seen, vibrant and luminous, echoing the music of the cosmos.
When at last he laid down his brush, the painter stepped back and saw the great beauty of his work. Exhausted from the effort, he then took his rest.
But the painter had an enemy, one who, out of envy, sought to disrupt all that the painter created. While the painter slept the enemy came into the studio and introduced a flaw into the foundation of the work. This flaw grew, spreading over the work threatening to destroy its beauty.
When the painter awoke and saw the damage done to the work, he thought first to destroy the painting and begin the long process again. But the work was precious to him, a child of his imagination, and he could not bear the thought of destroying it. He considered correcting the flaw but feared that it would simply reappear as it now had become part of the work itself.
Finally he concluded there was only one way to save the work. He painted himself into the work and taught the work how to correct itself.
In His Image and likeness
In the story of the fall of (Read More)
Joyce Rupp’s Reflection – February 2018
“Come to the root of the root of your Self.”~ Jalaluddin Rumi (Divani Shamsi Tabriz, #120)ComeEvery moment of every day the Holy One extends an open invitation to come closer, to enter further into an lasting relationship. Now is the time to shake off the interior and exterior clutter that prevents this communication and clear seeing, to release what causes us to stumble on the path of loving and blocks our ability to be our truest self. Now is the moment to accept the invitation to be more completely transformed into Christ-like virtues, to heed the summons by ceasing worthless endeavors and distracting trivialities that keep us from an in-depth way of living.to the rootSink into a quiet space for a restorative time each day. Anchor yourself there. Let your roots of faith be strengthened by a graced encounter with Enduring Love. Assimilate the wise insights and inspiring aspirations found in the soil of prayer. Receive this spiritual nourishment so your ability to be a conduit of genuine goodness does not topple over from weakness, like a tree with a failing root system.of the rootGo even deeper in relationship with the Beloved. Accept the storehouse of spiritual nutrients found in connection with this Primary Root. Allow the relationship to energize your life. Like a vigorous root feeding and keeping the tree flourishing, absorb the spiritually enlivening qualities found in the life and teachings of Jesus. Read a Gospel slowly. Let the life-giving messages you find there flow with dynamic energy into each part of your day.of your SelfThere, at the core of your being—the true Self where the divine and the human meet in undivided union—rest in the rootedness of a Love too large and unconditional to fully comprehend with the human mind. Set aside egoic demands, nursed grudges, endless discouragement, leftover regrets, and stale excuses. Receive this love with the intuitive heart. Become one with the Divine Root, a source of what best serves to restore the neglected and famished parts of the soul. Then go forth and exhale this Love like a healthily-rooted tree breathing oxygen into the lungs of creation.My hope for each of us in the coming liturgical season of Lent is that we will “return to the root of the root of the Self.”Abundant peace,Joyce Rupp
Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. But it’s not a matter of celebrating one or the other. How about focusing on giving an extra portion of love to all those around you this Lent?