How a Search for High Quality Painting Brushes Created Chinese Characters that Communicate the Gospel
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Here’s an unusual story. First of all a tip for anyone looking for brushes for icon painting. I was looking for a source for good cheap brushes to use with egg tempera. The usual recommendation is Kalinsky sable. These are very expensive watercolour brushes and made from sable hair (a sable is an animal, a Russian marten). If you use brushes for watercolour they will last a lifetime, but if you use them for egg tempera they quickly degrade because the paint is quite abrasive, made from pigment – which is effectively coloured grit – and egg yolk, diluted with water. This can become expensive quite quickly. Luckily, I discovered that Chinese painting brushes are an excellent but much cheaper alternative. They are made to come to a point for use with calligraphy and hold a large amount of paint, so are perfect for painting in egg tempera. I get my brushes from an online supplier called Good Characters, here.
Another side of their business is doing a consultancy for people doing business in China – they develop company logos that will speak to the Chinese and give the right impression. As a regular customer, and as part of a promotion for this Andy Chuang who runs the company in California asked me if I wanted him to create a Chinese character for me. I thought about it and suggested this:
First of all the statement from Lao Tsu: ‘Man’s standards are conditioned by those of Earth, the standard of Earth by those of Heaven, the standard of Heaven by that of the Way [Tao] and the standard of the Way is that of its own intrinsic nature.’ (from Tao Te Ching, XXV (6th century BC)
Then I asked that this be juxtaposed with the scriptural quote: ‘I am the Way’ Jesus Christ, (John 14:6)
I thought maybe it would help evangelise China. Doaism has belief in heaven which is a non-material, spiritual place, but is an impersonal, empty heaven with no God. I thought that maybe putting these together might lead them to accept Christ as the fullness of what is believed.
Andy was very happy to oblige and sent me the following. First the Lao Tsu
and then from John’s gospel
then he sent me a Chinese screen image into which I could insert them. My techie skills aren’t up to it but I thought I …read more
Comments Off on Photos of Naumkeag House and Gardens, Stockbridge, Massachussets
The Way of Beauty gardens reporter, Nancy Feeman has sent met me another missal, this one following a trip to Stockbridge, Massachussets. “The name of the house is Naumkeag,” she tells me, “and the house itself was built in 1886. It is absolutely enchanting and charming. The gardens were redsigned from 1926 to 1955 and they are in the process of restoring them now. The idea of garden rooms is present in the design and a lot of the garden is heavily landscaped because the house sits on a hillside. The stairs are really interesting and have water flowing down to each level. Mabel Choate – the daughter who worked on the gardens – traveled to many countries for inspiration. This was was popular thing to do in the early 1900′s and as a result of this she wanted a Chinese garden. The rose garden is lovely but the rose bushes are very young. In general there were not many flowers which is what I really love but nevertheless it it was still beautiful and of course the views of the nearby mountains, the Berkshires make the whole scene so picturesque. The website is here.
From Sacra Liturgia, Rome: Beauty is a language without words and must be present in art and architecture
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Here is a report of the presentation on architecture and art by Fr Michael Lang of the Brompton Oratory at the Sacra Liturgia 2013. I hope I have done it justice.
Once again this was posted first on Catholic Education Daily. This is blog of the Cardinal Newman Society which seeks to spur on liturgical renewal in Catholic higher education, so I was very happy to be asked to report on the conference for them; and to make NLM readers aware of the efforts they are making in this direction as well as what went on in the report.
In this presentation Fr Lang stressed the need for liturgical forms that are in harmony with with well directed worship and for informed patronage; and a dialogue between artist and patron in the planning stages. In his presentation he did not rely on personal opinion as to the quality of the architecture he was showing (the opinions expressed in the article about particular churches are mine not his). Rather, he laid out the processes by which the architect was commissioned, and told us the (often absurd and grandiose) aims articulated by the architect. Then, dispassionately, he compared the stated aims with the requirements of the traditions of Church pointing out differences and contradictions if they occurred. Then without further comment after this analysis he presented us with a photograph of the final product, allowing us to make up our minds. The laughter of the audience said it all. I did not notice Fr Lang even crack a smile as he did this, which just seemed to add to the deadpan humour.
He finished by giving us some guiding principles that he felt that patrons should focus on when commissioning art and artchitecture and that might avoid some of the errors of the last 100 year.
Once again, the full article is here.
Comments Off on Blessing for Hollywood Artists and Professionals
By Barbara Nicolosi Tonight, August 3rd, we will inaugurate a new ministry to provide communal prayer, retreats, spiritual direction and formation to Catholic professionals in the entertainment industry. We invited 20 people to attend the first meeting and we have 42 who have let us know they are coming. It’s a sign that the Lord’s flock in Hollywood [Read More…] …read more
Comments Off on On Liberal Ideologues Watching Classic Movies
By Barbara Nicolosi I resonated with so much of this piece by Joseph Schaeffer. Especially loved this: “Those of us who don’t see a need to redefine the family or male and female sex roles and the like can easily view a classic film and enjoy it for what it is. We don’t feel a burning need to [Read More…] …read more
Our first Latin American and Jesuit pope!
The first Pope of the Americas Jorge Mario Bergoglio hails from Argentina. The 76-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires is a prominent figure throughout the continent, yet remains a simple pastor who is deeply loved by his diocese, throughout which he has travelled extensively on the underground and by bus during the 15 years of his episcopal ministry.
“My people are poor and I am one of them”, he has said more than once, explaining his decision to live in an apartment and cook his own supper. He has always advised his priests to show mercy and apostolic courage and to keep their doors open to everyone. The worst thing that could happen to the Church, he has said on various occasions, “is what de Lubac called spiritual worldliness”, which means, “being self-centred”. And when he speaks of social justice, he calls people first of all to pick up the Catechism, to rediscover the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. His project is simple: if you follow Christ, you understand that “trampling upon a person’s dignity is a serious sin”.
Despite his reserved character — his official biography consists of only a few lines, at least until his appointment as Archbishop of Buenos Aires — he became a reference point because of the strong stances he took during the dramatic financial crisis that overwhelmed the country in 2001.
He was born in Buenos Aires on 17 December 1936, the son of Italian immigrants. His father Mario was an accountant employed by the railways and his mother Regina Sivori was a committed wife dedicated to raising their five children. He graduated as a chemical technician and then chose the path of the priesthood, entering the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He completed his studies of the humanities in Chile and returned to Argentina in 1963 to graduate with a degree in philosophy from the Colegio de San José in San Miguel. From 1964 to 1965 he taught literature and psychology at Immaculate Conception College in Santa Fé and in 1966 he taught the same subject at the Colegio del Salvatore in Buenos Aires. From 1967-70 he studied theology and obtained a degree from the Colegio of San José.
On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He continued his training between 1970 and 1971 at the University of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973 made his final profession with the Jesuits. Back in Argentina, he was novice master at Villa Barilari, San Miguel; professor at the Faculty of Theology of San Miguel; consultor to the Province of the Society of Jesus and also Rector of the Colegio Máximo of the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology.
On 31 July 1973 he was appointed Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina, an office he held for six years. He then resumed his work in the university sector and from 1980 to 1986 served once again as Rector of the Colegio de San José, as well as parish priest, again in San Miguel. In March 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis; his superiors then sent him to the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires and next to the Jesuit Church in the city of Córdoba as spiritual director and confessor.
It was Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who wanted him as a close collaborator. So, on 20 May 1992 Pope John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires. On 27 May he received episcopal ordination from the Cardinal in the cathedral. He chose as his episcopal motto, miserando atque eligendo, and on his coat of arms inserted the ihs, the symbol of the Society of Jesus.
He gave his first interview as a bishop to a parish newsletter, Estrellita de Belém. He was immediately appointed Episcopal Vicar of the Flores district and on 21 December 1993 was also entrusted with the office of Vicar General of the Archdiocese. Thus it came as no surprise when, on 3 June 1997, he was raised to the dignity of Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Not even nine months had passed when, upon the death of Cardinal Quarracino, he succeeded him on 28 February 1998, as Archbishop, Primate of Argentina and Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who have no Ordinary of their own rite.
Three years later at the Consistory of 21 February 2001, John Paul ii created him Cardinal, assigning him the title of San Roberto Bellarmino. He asked the faithful not to come to Rome to celebrate his creation as Cardinal but rather to donate to the poor what they would have spent on the journey. As Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Argentina, he is the author of the books: Meditaciones para religiosos (1982), Reflexiones sobre la vida apostólica (1992) and Reflexiones de esperanza (1992).
In October 2001 he was appointed General Relator to the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Episcopal Ministry. This task was entrusted to him at the last minute to replace Cardinal Edward Michael Egan, Archbishop of New York, who was obliged to stay in his homeland because of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. At the Synod he placed particular emphasis on “the prophetic mission of the bishop”, his being a “prophet of justice”, his duty to “preach ceaselessly” the social doctrine of the Church and also “to express an authentic judgement in matters of faith and morals”.
All the while Cardinal Bergoglio was becoming ever more popular in Latin America. Despite this, he never relaxed his sober approach or his strict lifestyle, which some have defined as almost “ascetic”. In this spirit of poverty, he declined to be appointed as President of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference in 2002, but three years later he was elected and then, in 2008, reconfirmed for a further three-year mandate. Meanwhile in April 2005 he took part in the Conclave in which Pope Benedict XVI was elected.
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires — a diocese with more than three million inhabitants — he conceived of a missionary project based on communion and evangelization. He had four main goals: open and brotherly communities, an informed laity playing a lead role, evangelization efforts addressed to every inhabitant of the city, and assistance to the poor and the sick. He aimed to reevangelize Buenos Aires, “taking into account those who live there, its structure and its history”. He asked priests and lay people to work together. In September 2009 he launched the solidarity campaign for the bicentenary of the Independence of the country. Two hundred charitable agencies are to be set up by 2016. And on a continental scale, he expected much from the impact of the message of the Aparecida Conference in 2007, to the point of describing it as the “Evangelii Nuntiandi of Latin America”.
Until the beginning of the recent sede vacante, he was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
He was elected Supreme Pontiff on 13 March 2013.
As our year comes to an end we return these moments of our life to God.
They are filled with our diaries,
with our thoughts,
with our questions
with our goodness
with our failures.
We thank God for
With our hearts and hands wide open
we stand in front of You
to receive a new Year:
Bless us, oh Lord, and all your gifts,
that we are about to receive.”
Sunday Gaudete (Rejoice), the third Sunday in Advent of 2012, our nation and many hearts all over the world grieved in memory of the little children and their educators who had died in one of our towns just two days earlier. I was visiting in Seattle. As we approached St. James Cathedral on Sunday morning we were greeted and embraced by all the bells that are able to ring in the Cathedral’s bell tower. All we wanted to do was stand there and listen, and listen some more…. What meditation and prayer had not been able to achieve, the sound of the chorus of bells did. Peace came over me and ever since, when the tears in my heart dwell, I recapture this moment of acoustic beauty and blessing, having been embraced and consoled by a very special sanctified and grace-filled space in the world.
Following 9/11, I remember a television commentator asking a religious leader, “What do parents tell their children when they come home from school today?”
I will never forget the Rabbi’s answer: First, shut off the TV. Second, gather at the table tonight and share a meal. Make space for questions. You don’t have to have an answer, simply give the gift of listening. Then if you are a family of faith, say a prayer… Pray for the victims. Pray for the ones that caused this terrible deed. Next light a candle. Tell your children that this horrible event was planned in the dark. Let your children and teenagers know they are the light. Keep gathering, listening, praying and lighting a candle. Each and every day as your sons and daughters leave the house, remind them they are the light (of Christ) in the world that helps the world and a community heal.
Rocky Mountain Synod Minister for Special Projects
THROUGHOUT TIME the tradition of gift giving has woven itself into the fabric of most cultures and civilizations. In ancient Rome , the Latin word ‘donare’ was coined to designate this custom of giving a gift.
The English language has welcomed this foreign word into the bosom of it’s vocabulary as ‘to donate’. To donate incognito is giving a gift in its purest form.
It means to give freely and without expectation of benefit or reward or public acknowledgement. Today it often seems that we have lost this integrity of truly giving a gift as a one way kindness, a pure gesture of the heart. We instead have settled for ‘exchanging’ gifts. We draw names in order to be more efficient about this business of kindness and generosity. It is still a friendly way to be, if we do not count and calculate and set limits up or down. But often it seems like just making a deal. We have settled for becoming traders.
Doesn’t ‘exchanging a gift’ limit the spirit of this unbelievable feast? Expectations and sometimes disappointments and other human limitations sneak in and somewhat pollute the noble custom of gift giving.
As I search for the gift that will complement your life, please do not measure my generosity or lack thereof. I promise that I will not measure your gift should you give me one.. My joy in having the privilege of choosing a gift for you, is your gift to me. The value of your gift to me lies in the precious fabric and moment of the resolve in your heart to complement my life.
Shall we recapture the true essence of ‘donare’? If we do this well, then perhaps some day soon, we as a nation and as individuals will give to others without expectation of return, no strings attached, for The art and joy of Giving has it’s own rewards such as: ‘PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN’
What’s in a logo? The word “logo” has its roots in the Greek verb lego, which means “to count, to tell, to say, or to speak.” In today’s fast-paced culture, we use logos as a way to speak with few words, to convey meaning that can be absorbed intuitively and at a glance. Our logo is no exception, we hope it conveys where we came from, where we stand, and where we are going, all at the same time.
“Creator Mundi” is Latin for “Creator of the World.” By using Latin we hold dearly our Catholic heritage, roots and traditions while reaching out ecumenically.
The silhouettes of two spires rise up in the middle of our logo. This image calls to mind the two majestic spires that adorn the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany, the city where Hildegard was born and raised during World War II. As a child, during a time of physical devastation, Hildegard was supported by her Catholic faith, finding beauty, solace and peace through the historic sacred art within the Cathedral. Art whose purpose was to open the mind into the splendor of the divine and to open the soul onto the numinous mystery of God – a mystery beyond words, time, and all contingent things.
Our distinctive sacred art is artistically beautiful, culturally authentic and biblically based, creating long lasting heirlooms for the family. We offer exceptional gifts suitable for every occasion, season, recipient, and sacramental celebration. We hope that you may find much in our collection of distinctive religious sacred art that stirs and awakens your mind and your soul.