Christmas is just around the corner, and here at Creator Mundi in Denver, Colorado, we have religious gifts for kids that will help bring the true meaning of Christmas into your home this year. We offer a wide selection of beautiful, sacred items that’d make lovely gifts for the young ones in your life.
Any religious boy or girl would love to receive one of our unique cross pendants this Christmas season. Our solid brass filigreed Tree of Life pendant is distinguished, yet elegant. The Jerusalem Cross Pendant is handcrafted from wood and symbolizes the symbolically vibrant design of the Jerusalem Cross. For a more delicate looking cross pendant, consider one of our Italian handcrafted glass pendants.
A stunning wall cross would make an excellent addition to a child’s room. Our bronze wall crosses feature unique and detailed designs. Here are a few of the ones you’ll find in our selection:
- We Join Our Hands Together Cross
- Called to Serve Cross
- Manna From Heaven Cross
- Tree of Life Cross
- Filigreed Tree of Life Cross
- Resurrexit Cross
- Transformation Cross
- New Beginning Cross
- God’s Creation Wall Cross
If you’re looking for something meaningful, yet affordable for the children in your life, consider giving a gift of faith with one of our pocket pieces. Made from solid pewter, these pocket pieces are beautiful and would make a great gift this Christmas. Quantity discounts are available.
Our figurines are popular for spiritual gift giving. They can be displayed on a desk, shelf, dresser, or nightstand. They can also be carried in a purse or pocket as a reminder of comfort and protection.
Children and adults alike enjoy the traditions that help us anticipate the Christmas holiday with excitement and wonder. Dating back to 19th-century Germany, Advent Calendars are one way to countdown to the big day. Our Advent Calendar features the story of Christ with whimsical pictures. Let your children experience the story of the nativity with our Children’s Nativity set. This plush nativity scene is adorable and safe for all ages. Let’s not forget to keep a reminder of Christ hung prominently on the Christmas tree. The elegant Cross Nativity Ornament is made of copper, brass, and tin and will serve as a reminder of the sacred nature of this holiday season.
Shop Creator Mundi for Christmas
Whether you’re looking for a gift for a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or someone in your Sunday School class, you’ll find the perfect spiritual gift at Creator Mundi in Denver, Colorado. Visit us and purchase that special gift today.
In the first of a series that will run for the next few weeks, here is a beautiful and simple analysis of this scene from the fresco by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. It is presented by Bill Donaghy of the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia. The Institute offers a series of intensive classes for a certificate on the writings of St John Paul II, which I recommend wholeheartedly. They focus especially on their relevance to the culture and the New Evangelization, as well as marriage and the family. In this five-minute presentation, we see all three come together!
John Paul II was a great admirer of Michelangelo and his style. He suggested that idealized naturalism, which draws on the ancient Greek ideal, might be a way to represent mankind ‘naked without shame’.
Advent is a time of waiting — in the widest sense. Be blessed!
A Blessing for Waiting
by Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace
for the night
for the night
in the hospital room
in the cell
who wait in prayer
for the phone call
who wait for a word
who wait for
who will come home
who will not come home
Who wait with fear
who wait with joy
who wait with peace
who wait with rage
who wait for the end
who wait for the beginning
who wait alone
who wait together
what they wait for
should not wait
when they should be
when they need
when they need
to set out
for the end
for the fullness
And How the Sacred Art Reveals It
Have a look at this ancient wall painting of the prophet Daniel’s companions in the fiery furnace. It is from the Roman catacombs and is one of the images that is included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Scripture tells us of the fate of Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3: 49, Knox translation). It says that an ‘angel of the Lord had gone down into the furnace with Azarias and his companions and drove the flames away from it, making a wind blow in the heart of the furnace, like the wind that brings the dew. So that these three were untouched, and the fire brought them no discomfort. Whereupon all of them, as with one mouth, began to give praise and glory and blessing to God, there in the furnace.’ Afterwards, the king who had thrown the youths into the fire, Nebuchnudnezah said he saw four figures, and the fourth was ‘as it had been a son of God’ (v92).
I recently examined this passage in scripture because the song that the three subsequently sang is known as the Canticle of Daniel and is sung on Feast days at Lauds. I was looking at the background to this and considering why it is sung in the liturgy.
My understanding is that in the interpretation of the Church Fathers, the reference to the wind and the dew in the scriptural account has been connected to the Creation story in which the Spirit of God was over the water, and then to the baptism of Christ in which the Holy Spirit comes down and the sacrament of baptism is initiated. Baptism is, through water, the instrument of the death of the old self spiritually so that we can be resurrected, also spiritually, in Confirmation or Chrismation by the action of the Holy Spirit.
There is a similar connection to the passages describing the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan by Joshua, in which the water and wind are connected. Wind is the action of the Spirit, as is fire (as at Pentecost which the Church Fathers also connected to the burning bush).
These common themes are the reason why traditionally in baptistries we would see portrayals of all these scenes, as described here.
So who is the fourth figure?
He can be represented simply as ‘an angel of the Lord’, as in this contemporary (Read More)
How about this from Durham Cathedral – St Cuthbert in the style of the School of St Albans? It is in the Galilee Chapel at the Romanesque cathedral in northern England. I suggest that this approach of simple line drawings describing form, and simple coloration is one that artists of today could adopt. If they do so, a wonderful new 21st-century gothic style can emerge for the greater glory of God and the Church! If done’ properly this would be simultaneously contemporary and traditional in a way that speaks powerfully of the Faith.
This shows that the miniature illuminations of Matthew Paris, which www.Pontifex.University promotes, can work well on a grand scale on walls too. Here is a miniature by Matthew Paris, from the 13th century.
I say on this pilgrimage of life, let’s set the bow of the barque headed firmly towards heaven, with tradition at the tiller!
Artists! Learn to paint in the style of the School of St Albans in the www.Pontifex University. My course, A Study of Artistic Method for Patrons and Artists not only teaches you how to paint in egg tempera, but it explains the principles by which you can make any style of art you like your own; and it so happens that the style I focus on in the class to illustrate is the School of St Albans style, as seen in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral!
Here are some more photos of Durham Cathedral to give you some context.
The Norman nave of Durham Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, Durham, County Durham, England, UK.
Today is the Feast of St Andrew who, as an Apostle, is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass.
Before he was called to follow Christ he was a follower of John the Baptist and like him, he is depicted with unkempt hair.
Here are two more icons that caught my eye. The second of the two was painted by Sr Petra Clare and it hangs in Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland. I remember seeing it many times when I visited.
The cross upon which he was martyred, during the persecution of Nero, is a characteristic X shape. As someone from the British Isles, I am well aware of this because he is the patron saint of Scotland and the Scottish flag depicts it symbolically. This was incorporated into the Union Jack sometime after the formal union of the two countries in the 18th century.
The martyrdom itself is depicted in Western portrayals of the saint. For example here is one by Rubens in characteristically dramatic style. In accordance with tradition he is shown bound, not nailed, to the cross:
Andrew was the brother of St Peter and the portrayal of the calling of the two as fishermen who will become ‘fishers of men’ is another common scene in Western portrayals.
Here is Duccio’s painting…
…an early mosaic from Ravenna (note how Christ is beardless)…
I do not know who the figure in the toga is on the right. Below is a baroque painting of the same scene.
FIT58808 The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew, c.1626-30 (oil on canvas) by Cortona, Pietro da (Berrettini) (1596-1669); 28.7×57.4 cm; Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK; Italian, out of copyright
This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon – Eucharistic Prayer I – and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of (Read More)
“We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”
Pope Francis on the First World Day of the Poor, November 19, 2017
I have just been creating a new online course on the mathematics of beauty and as part of this, I wanted to show how to represent the symbolic meaning of number in the context of the liturgy in such a way that it might deepen participation. The obvious way to do this is to have a pattern with the symmetry of the number. This will require also some catechesis of the congregations so that they are reminded of what it is pointing to every time they see it.
It can be part of the decoration of the church, incidental, as it were, to the structure:
Or it can be more intimately and obviously bound with the form of the church, as it is in the medieval rose window. Here is a window dating from about 1500 in the cathedral at Amiens in France:
It is important to awaken our innate sense of the symbolism of the natural world and all that is created as this stimulates also our natural sense of the divine. The awe and wonder that we feel when we contemplate the world around us is, for all that it seems profound, little better than a shallow emotion generated artificially by a drug if we stop there and do not allow it to draw us closer to its source – God. This is its true consummation, we are made to see the glory of God in his creation and it will be to his greater glory and our greater joy if we allow the beauty of the world to take us to what it points to.
We can consider this to be a form of relation. Creation is in relation to its Creator. By virtue of its existence, it is relational, for it is connected to its Creator by the mark of divine beauty He has impressed upon it. This interconnectivity of all that exists, therefore, is not a mental construct thrust upon the cosmos artificially by mankind. Rather it is a property of the object that we see. All being is relational by nature and is patterned lattice that has the Creator at its heart.
As created beings ourselves, we participate in this dynamic too, seeing a natural connection between ourselves and the rest of the cosmos. All of mankind is endowed by the Creator with an intellect and the capacity to observe the world around us in such as way (Read More)
Painting the 21 Christian Coptic Martyrs
Anyone who has ever seen an icon of St Therese of Lisieux painting or John Paul II will know how difficult it is to paint an icon of a modern figure. There are two problems associated with them that I can think of:
Firstly, when the facial features are well known through photographs, there is a tendency to over naturalize the facial and the mismatch with the stylization of the rest of the figure and it ends up looking like an iconographic version of a head-in-the-hole picture
Second is dealing with contemporary clothes. While it seems to have been fine in the middle ages to paint the soldiers of their past in contemporary chainmail because the idea of awareness of what the biblical soldiers might actually have worn was different (here’s Samual anointing David and David slaying Goliath).
…I don’t think it would work today. We would use historical dress. When it comes to contemporary saints, such as the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs beheaded by ISIS, the iconographer can’t suddenly put them in historical clothing to give the aura of holiness but must aim to represent the clothes they wore in an iconographic way.
Here is an icon by a neo-Coptic iconographer of the 21 martyrs. Notice the sensitive way that the painter has handled the faces and the clothes, to create a contemporary icon very well, even portraying the bright orange jumpsuits that the prisoners wore.
Artists! Do the Master’s in Sacred Arts at www.Pontifex.University
Ron Rolheiser OMI writes in his May 1992 blog that “To be a saint is to be motivated by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less. Scripture, everywhere and always, makes this point.” Read the full reflection below.
There’s a Jewish folk-tale which runs something like this:
There once was a young man who aspired to great holiness. After some time at working to achieve it, he went to see his Rabbi.
“Rabbi,” he announced, “I think I have achieved sanctity.”
”Why do you think that?” asked the Rabbi.
”Well,” responded the young man, “I’ve been practising virtue and discipline for some time now and I have grown quite proficient at them. From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water. All day long, I do all l do all kinds of hard work for others and I never expect to be thanked.
“If I have temptations of the flesh, I roll in the snow or in thorn bushes until they go away, and then at night, before bed, I practice the ancient monastic discipline and administer lashes to my bare back. I have disciplined myself so as to become holy.”
The Rabbi was silent for a time. Then he took the young man by the arm and led him to a window and pointed to an old horse which was just being led away by its master.
“I have been observing that horse for some time,” the Rabbi said, “and I’ve noticed that it doesn’t get fed or watered from morning to night. All day long it has to do work for people and it never gets thanked. I often see it rolling around in snow or in bushes, as horses are prone to do, and frequently I see it get whipped.
“But, I ask you: Is that a saint or a horse?”
This is a good parable because it shows how simplistic it is to simply identity sanctity and virtue with self-renunciation and the capacity to do what’s difficult. In popular thought there’s a common spiritual equation: saint=horse. What’s more difficult is always better. But that can be wrong.
To be a saint is to be motivated by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less. Scripture, everywhere and always, makes this point.
For example, the sin of Adam and Eve was, first and foremost, a failure in receptivity and gratitude. God gives them life, each other and the garden and asks them only to receive it properly, in gratitude—receive and give thanks. Only after doing this, do we go on to “break and share” Before all else, we first give thanks.
To receive in gratitude, to be properly grateful, is the most primary of all religious attitudes. Proper gratitude is ultimate virtue. It defines sanctity. Saints, holy persons, are people who are grateful, people who see and receive everything as gift.
The converse is also true. Anyone who takes life and love for granted should not ever be confused with a saint.
Let me try to illustrate this: As a young seminarian, I once spent a week in a hospital, on a public ward, with a knee injury. One night a patient was brought on to our ward from the emergency room. His pain was so severe that his groans kept us awake. The doctors had just worked on him and it was then left to a single nurse to attend to him.
Several times that night, she entered the room to administer to him—changing bandages, giving medication, and so on. Each time, as she walked away from his bed he would, despite his extreme pain, thank her.
Finally, after this had happened a number of times, she said to him: “Sir, you don’t need to thank me. This is my job!”
“Ma’am!” he replied, “it’s nobody’s job to take care of me! Nobody owes me that. I want to thank you!
I was struck by that, how, even in his great pain, this man remained conscious of the fact that life, love, care, and everything else come to us as a gift, not as owed. He genuinely appreciated what this nurse was doing for him and he was right— it isn’t anybody’s job to take care of us!
It’s our propensity to forget this that gets us into trouble. The failure to be properly grateful, to take as owed what’s offered as gift, lies at the root of many of our deepest resentments towards others—and their resentments towards us.
Invariably when we are angry at someone, especially at those closest to us, it is precisely because we are not being appreciated (that is, thanked) properly. Conversely, I suspect, more than a few people harbor resentments towards us because we, consciously or unconsciously, think that it is their job to take care of us.
Like Adam and Eve we take, as if it is ours by right, what can only be received gratefully as gift. This goes against the very contours of love. It is the original sin.
Remember the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador, who were killed 28 years ago today.
Below is an excerpt of a reflection by William Bole on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the events.
It was one of the most glaring and brazen human-rights crimes of the late 20th century. In the predawn hours of November 16, 1989, an elite battalion of El Salvador’s military forced its way into the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America, or UCA. The university, led by its president, Father Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ, had become a stronghold of opposition to human rights abuses committed by the U.S.-backed military.
On that night, soldiers dragged five priests out of their beds and into a courtyard, made them lay facedown on the grass, and fired bullets into their heads. They went back inside and killed another Jesuit. Then, searching the residence further, they found a housekeeper and her teenage daughter crouching in the corner of a bedroom, holding each other. The gunmen shot them too.
Twenty-five years later, many are still waiting for justice in the case of the murdered Jesuits and women. None of the top military commanders who issued the orders to kill was ever prosecuted for the crimes.
“Being Trees in Autumn”
by Stephen Garnaas-Holmes
These trees in Buddhist saffron robes,
becoming naked without fear,
in wind that is a part of them,
disclose a beauty in this death,
become new shapes, interior.
To live they cannot hoard;
this losing, too, is growth.
New shapes emerge,
new vision clears.
Surrender strengthens in the soul
This emptying is confidence
in spring, but more – a faithing
in the growth that’s come before,
a counting of the gifts
and then releasing one by one,
so as to give again,
knowing growth is not a season,
but is in the root of things.
This is no losing,
but a becoming.
Coveting such openness
of limb and heart and hand,
such bareness in the singing,
I only now discover that I want
this wind, blowing where it will,
By Administrator1 Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes her 11-year-old daughter, Isel Martinez, about homework outside their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico has been without power and water for more than one month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See HURRICANES-CARIBBEAN-DEBT-RELIEF Oct. 27, 2017.
” data-medium-file=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427?w=300″ data-large-file=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427?w=3000″ src=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427″ alt=”Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes her 11-year-old daughter, Isel Martinez, about homework outside their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico was without power and water for more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS/Bob Roller) ” width=”640″ height=”427″ srcset=”https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=640&h=427 640w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=1280&h=854 1280w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=128&h=85 128w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=300&h=200 300w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w, https://cnsblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171027t1110-0197-cns-hurricanes-caribbean-debt-relief.jpg?w=1024&h=683 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px”>
Margarita Rodriguez holds a flashlight as she quizzes 11-year-old daughter Isel Martinez about homework outside their home in San Juan Oct. 25. Most of Puerto Rico was without power and water for more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. (CNS/Bob Roller)
By Greg Erlandson
Catholic News Service
Hurricane Irma and Maria had a devastating impact on the island of Puerto Rico. As the U.S. bishops have described it, “the people of Puerto Rico face an unprecedented level of need” as a result of these storms.
A U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Rico has a population of 2.7 million Catholics, with 1 archdiocese, five dioceses and 329 parishes. For almost two months the island has dealt with the aftereffects of the storms, including a collapsed power grid and a lack of clean drinking water or other assistance in many parts of the island.
A prekindergarten student looks at the photographer in the classroom at Good Heart of Mary Catholic School in San Juan, Puerto, Rico, Oct. 26. (CNS/Bob Roller)
Catholic News Service was the first major Catholic news organization to send a photographer and a reporter to tour the island and document the efforts of the church and other organizations to help many of the people far from the capital of San Juan.
In addition, the team interviewed Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Bishop Daniel Fernandez of Arecibo and countless others intent on helping these American citizens get back on their feet.
Here are links to the four stories the team produced in Puerto Rico for CNS and its clients:
Catholic organizations, groups actively working on Puerto Rico’s recovery https://t.co/5KwCjrx5Aw pic.twitter.com/EIE0J9nsVu
— Catholic (Read More)
Comments Off on All Saints Day
It’s All Saints Day! So: Who cares about the saints?
Here is what James Martin, SJ has to say: “I found companions among the saints — friends to turn to when I needed a helping hand. My novice director told me that he thought of the saints as older brothers and sisters to whom one could look for advice and counsel. The Catholic theologian Lawrence S. Cunningham, in his book The Meaning of Saints, suggests that the saints also serve as our “prophetic witnesses,” spurring us to live more fully as Christian disciples.” James Martin, SJ My Life with the Saints
… and take a look at this short video! James Martin’s Introduction to “Who Cares About The Saints?”
At Creator Mundi, we know that buying a religious holiday gift for your mother, grandmother, sister, wife, daughter, or other females in your life that glorifies God is one of the best choices you could make this Christmas. Creator Mundi has many items for women that can serve as wonderful gifts of faith for any age. We’ve picked out a few special items that you may find perfect for the important female in your life, but please feel free to check out our entire collection of religious holiday gifts, we know you’ll find the right one. Some ideas to choose from could include:
Joie de Vivre Figurine
The Joie de Vivre Figurine is French for the joy of living. What better way to express the love of Jesus on Christmas than to signify it with a figurine that reflects the joyful yearnings of our hearts? Imagine how the woman in your life might display it: on the dresser in her bedroom, the mantel in the living room, or in another location that has significance to her.
… these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
Giving her a Christmas gift that celebrates the joy of living will be a delicate reminder for her, on good days and bad, that she is a joyful part of your life and you appreciate the part she plays in it. At Creator Mundi, we choose only heirloom quality religious items that can be given to show appreciation for the people you love.
The Pocket Angel in Matchbox
Creator Mundi wants our customers to know that God is always around us. The Pocket Angel In Matchbox is a charming solid bronze angel inside of a delicately made 2-inch box is a gentle reminder that even in the most trying times, we are never alone. The inspiring messages on the sides of the box will touch the hearts of young or old. It’s a sweet Christmas gift for a goddaughter, godmother, mom, or grandma.
A lovely prayer piece, it’s an ideal complement to the women in your life. They may want to keep it with them in their car, desk, purse, or perhaps in their pockets to keep it at the ready when they need it throughout the day. The messages on the outside of the box remind them that God is always there for them. The top of the matchbox reads: “At times, you need an angel.” The back of the box reads: “Angel of God, be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule, and guide.” When you lift the angel out of the box, the following saying is revealed: “May you be blessed with a wonderful angel—for good thoughts by day and for your dreams at night.” Bless a woman in your life with this beautiful angel this Christmas.
Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant
Popular with youth groups and Sunday school classes, this elegant Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant is a beautiful way to express God’s love at Christmas for the women near and dear to you. Its smooth surface makes it soothing to hold while in prayer or when you need to be reminded that God is never far away. The hand-burnt surface is covered with a smooth and shiny lacquer that makes the cross reflect the light and produce a gentle glow that signifies the light of the Lord during this Christmas season. This wood cross pendant comes with a tasteful nylon cord, or you could upgrade it and pair it with one of Creator Mundi’s 18-inch bronzed or silver-plated pendant chains to complete the gift. Inexpensively priced, this is a great item for Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and anyone else you want to bless with a token of God’s love this season.
Religious Gifts For Her From Creator Mundi
For the perfect religious gift for her, browse our collection at Creator Mundi. We’ve offered just a few ideas for the important women in your life this Christmas. Check out our jewelry and pendants or selection of wall art today.
By Matthew Fowler
ROME (CNS) — The historic tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence are in dire need of cleaning and restoration due to sustained damage over the past 50 years.
“In the Name of Michelangelo” is an international fundraising campaign being launched by the Opera di Santa Croce foundation to raise €100.000 ($118,105) by Oct. 30 to fund these repairs.
The altarpiece (left) combines with the tomb (right) to honor Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family, while attracting the eyes of tourists. Photo credit: Opera di Santa Croce.
Michelangelo, who is well known for his work in the Sistine Chapel, became very ill and died in 1564. Although Pope Pius IV ordered for his body to be buried in Rome in St. Peter’s, Michelangelo’s body was ‘stolen’ and returned to Florence where he was then buried in Santa Croce.
By Mark Pattison and Julie Asher
WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s summertime and the movies are plentiful.
As everyone knows the summer movie season is a big one for Hollywood, and when it comes to a close, it is followed closely by a few select September and October film festivals where moviemakers usually debut their fall releases – and their hopes the movies will be Oscar contenders. Catholic News Service reviewers keep up with the best of them.
(Photo by Lori Bucci, Flickr/via LA Tourism)
All this talk of movies and reviews brings to mind something CNS/USCCB archivist Katherine Nuss recently unearthed from an archival box – the pledge Catholics used to take called the Legion of Decency.
The Legion of Decency assumed the U.S. Catholic Church’s mantle in keeping objectionable material — well, most objectionable material, anyway — out of Hollywood films.
Here’s an excerpt from a 1936 Legion pamphlet:
The Legion of Decency is concerned not so much about the materials selected for a story as about the moral treatment of those materials. … The Legion of Decency, in short, does not object to human problems being dramatized on the screen; it does not deny that sin and crime may at times be necessary ingredients of a plot; but the Legion is deeply concerned with what elicits the sympathy of the audience and influences its judgment. The audience must not be led to accept false principles and to condone wrong-doing. When moral evil is portrayed in a film, it should never be pictured as good, admirable, or justifiable. And, conversely, moral good should never be proposed as evil, foolish or despicable.
It was the Legion of Decency that came up with the classification system — modified in the ensuing decades — still in use by CNS to assess the moral suitability of films. Because it’s been around for 80 years, there are thousands upon thousands of movies that use Roman numerals in the classification — I, II, III — rather than the far more commonplace 1, 2, 3.
It was a big, big deal in 1939 for Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to say onscreen to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That remark might very well have earned the film a “B” rating from the Legion. For the uninitiated, “B” meant “morally objectionable in part for all.” It was later (Read More)
Here is an exciting and innovative approach to financing original works of sacred art. It comes from the recently formed John Paul II Foundation for Sacred Arts.
It is a free market approach in which artists are motivated to create work of sufficient quality that it will fulfil its purpose fully, which means that it will connect with congregations in their worship. If he fulfils both of these criteria, then through this system, he will generate enough return that he will have more than a living wage.
Instead of a traditional endowment or commission model, the Foundation partners with artists in an entrepreneurial venture to fund a given project at cost. This format makes funding sacred art financially accessible to donors of all levels. Grants are crowd-funded and paid in installments throughout the creative process to pay the artist’s material costs and living expenses. Upon its completion, the artist retains primary ownership of the work, while the Foundation enjoys a share in the proceeds of any sale of the work, associated prints, or revenues from displaying the work.
The great strength of this, is that once the artist is selected for crowd-funding, he is still not guaranteed success. The funding will only come if the crowds are interested, so to speak. In other words, it must appeal to large numbers of ordinary, non-elites as well.
This is the ultimate test of beauty – it appeals to the cognoscienti and hoi polloi alike. As Benedict XVI said in A New Song to the Lord (p123): “It is precisely the test of true creativity that the artist steps out of the esoteric and knows how to form his or her intuition in such a way that the other – the many – may perceive what the artist has perceived.”
This is saying that while all that is popular is not beautiful; all that is beautiful will be popular (provided enough people are exposed to it). Therefore, the judges who consider its appropriateness for sacred art must consider also whether this is likely to connect with congregations. If they get it wrong and no one wants to fund it, they won’t make the same mistake twice! It is, in part at least, self-selecting.
Some artists may still argue that they won’t be able to access this funding unless they can first jump through the hoop of judges’ selection. This is true. But if that happens to you…start your (Read More)
Here is a fascinating paper by Dr Tom Larson of St Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire entitled Man, Music and Catholic Culture. He presented it at the Institute of St Anselm Studies, an annual symposium which takes place the college campus each summer. It has just been published in the proceedings and is now online.
Dr Larson examines first the place of music in Greek philosophical tradition and compares this with accounts of two modern commentators. The first, a non-Christian philosopher Allan Bloom, whose thoughts he presents as a foil to a modern Christian view, that of Pope Benedict XVI.
Larson’s discussion clearly applies to sacred music and reinforces all that has been said on the importance of music in the liturgy. But he extends this also to the profane and considers the place of music in the wider culture too.
Here is the abstract for the paper:
The topic of this paper is the place of music within the Catholic intellectual tradition. The paper discusses the dignity of music, its relationship to man, and its place in education. The paper begins with the pagan classical treatment of music. The classical account of music is bound up with certain claims about human psychology, education, and culture, as well as certain claims about the universe. Allan Bloom’s discussion of music in the Greek philosophic tradition is examined as a foil to the Catholic vision discussed in the second part of the paper. The second part presents Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s understanding of music’s place in Catholic culture. Music, along with laws of beauty and order, has its source in God; it contributes to the re-integration of Man and directs him toward union with God in prayer; it has an intimate relationship with the human longing for transcendence; as a universal language, it has a role in evangelization and facilitating inter-cultural dialogue; in its beauty we are enabled to experience the presence of Ultimate Beauty; and in its own and very powerful way, the beauty of the music that has grown out of Christian culture serves as a kind of verification of the Christian faith.
I have been frustrated by the fact that it is difficult to get hold of an English translation of the only extant part of Boethius’s influential book on music. It had been stored on my laptop, but it crashed last month and I lost all stored files. Finally I found an old email, from about 10 years ago in which somebody sent me a copy. So, to make sure this never happens again, I am going to publish it on my blog so that it is freely available. Here we have the 30 odd chapters of Book 1.
So here it is!
Five Books of Music (1)
We will be studying this in an upcoming class at www.Pontifex.University which will be on Sacred Geometry and Sacred Number – the Traditional Mathematics of Beauty and Cultural Transformation which I will be offering in the Fall. By the way, h/t to a fellow blogger Baroque Pearls for the snappy headline. I’d like to take credit but modesty forbids. Incidentally in his article, I am flattered that he took the diagram for the musical harmony from my blog – I know because I drew it. I guess what goes around comes around.
Below are some pictures of diagrams of musical harmony from medieval manuscripts of the book, form. Plus Raphael’s painting of Pythagoras with a chalk board with the musical harmony diagram on it!