Creator Mundi showcases news from the religious world.
The plight of this country has little to with drop in oil prices and more to do with chronic economic mismanagement by a corrupt socialist government.
If ever a country provides a case of the evils, and I mean evils, of socialism it is Venezuela. A mere 30 years after the collapse of Soviet Russian we see centralized government actions done in the name of the people which have lead to the suffering of millions.There are food shortages, violence, unrest, and roaming government inspired vigilantes terrorizing the population into submission.
And, what, you might ask has this got to do with a blog called the Way of Beauty? The answer is that it was first the decline in the culture of faith that allowed the socialists to gain power in the first place. Venezuela shows that beauty and faith are things that matter for these are the values that bind a society together stably and for the greater flourishing of all people. I will come to this later in this article.
What was once a flourishing democracy collapsed into poverty and anarchy within 15 years because the introduction of socialist policies. Yet this is a story that is barely covered in the news and the reason is that it doesn’t correspond to the narrative of those who run the media outlets. If Venezuela gets a mention at all in the large media outlets, for example on the BBC website, then the country’s problems are attributed to the drop in oil prices. This is a complete misrepresentation and it is a terrible glossing over of the real cause of the problems, which were present before the oil price dropped. They can be attributed to what can only be described as brain-dead economic policies that began with the dictator Chavez and which his successor Maduro only made worse. Guided by Cuban advisors, they have succeeded in bring the country to its knees faster even than Cuba managed it themselves and starting from a position of much higher prosperity. Chavez, was always viewed positively by the media in Britain and it seems that they can’t bring themselves to admit now how wrong they were.
I was reminded of this recently when I attended the Action Institute annual conference, Acton University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained (Read More)
Thanks to Gina Switzer (an artist whose decorated Easter candles have been featured on the NLM to great interest) for drawing my attention to this write-up in the Orthodox Arts Journal of an exhibition that took place in Moscow earlier this year, a presentation of contemporary Russian icon painters.
What is interesting is the variety of styles on dsiplay that nevertheless all sit within bounds of what could legitimately be considered a holy icon. Many incorporate stylistic features that might not have been seen in the icons of Rublev in the 15th century. I would characterize what they are doing in the following way: the artist may be breaking past rules, but they never contravene the timeless principles that define the tradition. In the way I am using these words, a “rule” is precise and unbending, the particular application of a “principle” suited to a particular time and place. For example, a rule would be “only use gold for the background in an icon,” which is what I was told when I first started to learn iconography. The underlying principle, on the other hand, is flexible, and is applied in different ways according the needs of the time and place. The principle behind the use of gold for backgrounds is that the background must seem flat and not create the illusion of space, in order to suggest the heavenly realm which is outside time and space. If you look at such icons, you see a variety of background colors and even geometric patterned art, something I was told in my first icon classes should never be seen in an icon! However, they can all be used to suggest flatness, and therefore work well in conforming to the underlying principle.
Similarly, when I first learned icon painting I was told that I had to start with a dark background, and then build the form by putting successive layers of lighter toned paint on top; there was even a theological argument used to justify this. Then it was discovered that ancient iconographers used a method whereby a monochrome underpainting was laid down first, and then both light and dark transparent layers washes of paint were put over it. Because the end result – what the final icon actually looks like – was the most important principle, my icon-painting teacher immediately adopted this quicker and easier method of building form.
This flexibility is the (Read More)
How to Be a Conservative by Roger Scruton and the cultural battle for the West.
If you are like me and fed up of all the news articles and Facebook posts telling you that your support for Brexit reveals you as racist, jingoistic, selfish, economically illiterate, small minded or just plain stupid, then I have the antidote for you: Roger Scruton’s How to Be a Conservative.
In this small book he offers a brilliantly thought out practical philosophy of moral and compassionate patriotism, that cares deeply about the liberty and floursihing of poor and the rich alike, and sees a culture of beauty as absolutely necessary to transmit and sustain the core principles and values that bind the nation together (and frankly, make life worth living). It is a religion neutral, natural-law case for a just society that is, as far as I can tell, consistent with Catholic social teaching. Scruton is and Englishman and his discussion is mostly in reference to the English situation; however, he admires and visits the US regularly as well and at various points he adapts what he is saying to the American situation.
His is a philosophical argument, that is one that is argued rationally from the starting point of observations how people are. He tells us first that his conserative instincts came in part from his father, whom he observed growing up in High Wickham in southern post-War England. Jack Scrution, we are told, was a committed socialist who sought the redistribution of wealth, but, as Scruton junior pointed out, ‘we are all conservative about the things we know about’. And what his dad knew about and loved was local history, and especially the beautiful architecture and the area around High Wickham in Buckinghamshire. This love of the local heritage compelled him to campaign for the preservation these beautiful signs and symbols of traditional English culture and way of life.
Now in his seventies (and made a Knight in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours list!) Sir Roger Scruton still follows his fathers instincts in this regard even though he never shared his political views. He has had a long academic career which began as an undergraduate at Cambridge, but which steadily saw him become an independent academic as it was obvious that he had no career in the faculties of the universities of England, dominated as they are by a left wing and (Read More)
“‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them.” — Luke 9:54-55
June 26, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
2) Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
When I was in high school I signed up for a special district-wide class on criminal justice. The idea was to gather from every school students who were considering a career in law enforcement.
I had to travel across town to another school for the course and it turned out all the other students in the class went to that school. I was the only outsider. For an entire year the whole class treated me rudely, made fun of me and called me offensive names. Looking back, it was one of the best years of my life.
I had been taught by my family and my faith to turn the other cheek, and I strived all year to do just that. I never lashed out at these other students; I just took their insults and did my best to be the better person. This experience has had a lasting impact on me.
It came to mind when reading this week’s Gospel. Jesus wants to visit a Samaritan town, but the local people refuse to welcome him. Jesus’ disciples ask him, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But Jesus rejects this idea.
To be sure, when I was in that class daily with students who refused to welcome me I wanted to “call down fire from heaven,” but by the grace of God I was able to lean more heavily on the message from St. Paul this week: “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”
So often we are in danger of letting our worldly passions rule our life. But Jesus and St. Paul in unison reject this idea and call us to live by the Spirit.
Living by the Spirit does not mean that we cannot have passion; rather, it means we have surrendered to the will of God and have allowed his will to guide our passions.
As with most things in the spiritual life, it’s simple but not easy. We must be steeped in the things of the Spirit and avoid the thoughts and activities mired in the flesh if we are to (Read More)
Just a couple of weeks before Sacra Liturgia 2016 I would like to mention a couple of things that caught my eye.
First is that once again the conference is promoting the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariates. When I attended Sacra Liturgia 2014 in Rome I was heartened by the welcome that priests from the Ordinariates were given, as I wrote in an article, here, in which I said also why I think that their creation is so important for the whole Church.
I am please that the openness to the Anglican Use continues and that in the program of liturgy for the conference there will be a ‘Solemn Mass (Divine Worship – Ordinariate Use)’ on Friday 8th July at 7pm at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ. Celebrant and preacher will be Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Our Lady of Walsingham.
Most liturgies for the conference are taking place at the Brompton Oratory. This program includes a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form celebrated by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. The music will be by the London Oratory School Schola Cantorum directed by our own Charles Cole.
My own conversion to Catholicism was influenced profoundly by stumbling into a beautiful Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form at the Brompton Oratory over 25 years ago I am pleased to see this and so much of the conference liturgy at this church.
The point should be made that the program of the liturgy is open to all, not just those attending the conference. The full program of liturgies is here. The photo below is of an Anglican Ordinariate liturgy in Baltimore.
On another Anglican Ordinariates matter, I was lucky enough recently to bump into Fr Edward Tomlinson of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at a conference in, of all places, Grand Rapids, Michigan (We were at the annual conference of the Acton Institute). Fr Tomlinson and I were both attending the EF Latin Mass which was offered at the conference and he introduced himself because I had my copy of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham under my arm. He told me of his CTS booklet about Ordinariates. This is an excellent short introduction for people who have questions about the Ordinariates (Read More)
Chaldean Father Douglas Bazi holds a shirt he wore while enduring torture as a hostage in Iraq in 2006 during a conference at the United Nations April 28. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Sunday is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture as declared by the United Nations.
It’s one day during Torture Awareness Month to remember people who have been confined and beaten or tortured because of their political involvement, their religious beliefs, their writings or actions in war.
It’s also a day to remember that torture is illegal under international law.
Torture remains illegal under United States law as well, having been officially outlawed by Congress after it was revealed that the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted or authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” early in the Iraq War.
Despite the law, some members of Congress would like to overturn the ban and that concerns the Rev. Ronald Stief, a United Church of Christ minister who is executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, of which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a supporter.
No one should undergo torture, he told Catholic News Service.
“It’s important to remember that in the middle of all these policy fights that these are real people, they’re survivors and we need to keep them in in mind and pray for them,” he said.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, takes the same stance in the USCCB’s “To Go Forth” blog. He reiterates Catholic teaching in calling for an end to all torture.
“In his 1993 encyclical, ‘Veritatis Splendor’ (‘The Splendor of Truth’), St. John Paul II included physical and mental torture in his list of social evils that are ‘intrinsically evil.’ The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says the prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstances,’” Bishop Cantu wrote.
He reminds readers that torture debases human life and violates the principle of respecting basic human dignity, the blog says, adding, “Torture also degrades the moral fiber of any society that tolerates or sponsors it. Accepting torture undermines respect for everyone’s human rights and human dignity.”
Bishop Cantu is not alone in his opposition to the use of torture. Practically, military and intelligence officers have said, torture in its various forms has failed to yield solid information as victims (Read More)
Here is a reminder (with some additional details) of a four-course certificate intended as a formation for artists in any creative discipline. It is an exciting new course offered by the The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley University in California. The Certificate in Theological Studies is a Master’s level, four-course (12-unit) certificate which is recommended for those who already have a working knowledge of a specific art medium (visual arts, music, architecture etc.), and wish to augment their expertise with a specialized focus in the relationship of the fine arts to Catholic worship and culture. These courses are open to people not otherwise studying at the DSPT.
The new information is that I have been invited to teach the elective in the Spring 2017. I will teach a practical course which will include the creation of a gothic image in the style of illuminations of the 13th century School of St Albans; and sacred geometry. In the geometry course, students will construct a traditional geometric pattern as used in cosmati floors of the period. In support of the practical skills I will teach the supporting theory as described in my book, the Way of Beauty.
The approach to this certificate program assumes the “cross-disciplinary approach” between philosophy and theology that uniquely characterizes all DSPT curricula. Furthermore, in this particular program there will be a focus on the integration of theory with praxis, particularly as it applies to Catholic worship and culture. An emphasis on the outcomes of this course is on the evangelization of the culture through a well discerned engagement with contemporary cultures, so that the creativity of the artist may be directed towards the engagement of contemporary man, without any compromise of the core principles of a traditional Christian culture.
The Certificate program of studies is organized by the Academic Dean of the DSPT, Fr Chris Renz; readers may remember that I highlighted his excellent article on liturgy and culture recently published in Antiphon.
Fr Renz will use my book the Way of Beauty as one of the texts for the opening course of the Certificate program. Anyone who has read any of my writings over the years will see why I am enthusiastic about this – these themes of inculturation, worship and fresh creativity are at the heart of my own ideas about the evangelization of (Read More)
By Colleen Dulle
WASHINGTON (CNS) -– Julie Hanna, a two-time refugee and five-time entrepreneur, took to the stage at the United State of Women Summit June 14 to share how her company is bringing dignity and opportunity to talented but disadvantaged people.
A $100 loan helped Cynthia in Ghana to buy beads for jewelry she makes and sells. (Kiva photo/Juan Barbed)
Hanna, executive chair of the board at micro-lending giant Kiva.org, knows from experience that, as she says, “talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”
She told the audience of 5,000 women at the White House summit how she recalled seeing her parents looked upon with pity here after the family fled first from Black September — the Jordanian civil war — and then from the Lebanese civil war.
“The expression I saw on my parents’ face,” she said, “was their dignity being chipped away.” She realized the society they’d entered didn’t understand the difference between broken circumstances and broken people, but she began to dream of a world that would.
“I dreamt of a world that knows pity is the dear enemy of compassion. I dreamt of a world that regards dignity as an unalienable human right. I dreamt of a world that understands that talent is universal but opportunity is not,” Hanna said.
She went on to take advantage of every opportunity she had to channel her talent. She was one of the first girls to play Little League baseball in Alabama after Title IX passed and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in computer science before moving to Silicon Valley and working for five successful startups including Healtheon, which became WebMD.
Hanna then went to Kiva, which pioneered what’s now known as “crowdfunding” 11 years ago. Its first borrower was a mother of five who took out a $500 loan to start a business without diverting funds from her children’s education.
Egyptian-born Hanna has seen the site transform communities around the world by empowering women in business. Of the entrepreneurs Kiva lenders have funded, 75 percent or 1.5 million are women.
Hanna sat down with Catholic News Service after her talk to reflect on this point.
She said she wanted her speech to convey that “investing in women and women entrepreneurs is the fastest way to transform a society, and that it takes very little money to do that.”
She cited examples of women who began sending their children to school (Read More)
By Ana Franco-Guzman
Given conference in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Highlighted in what many of the speakers said at the Given forum held earlier this month in Washington is what St. John Paul II would call the importance of feminine values in society. When God made Eve, he did not make her inferior but the opposite — his “ezer,” which means a vital helper.
Women should “thank God for our sex,” Helen Alvare, a professor of law at George Mason University School of Law told the audience of more than 300 young women at the Given Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious hosted the gathering June 7-12 at The Catholic University of America.
“In the world today there is what one would call a resistance of the notion of two-ness,” Alvare said, when women’s differences with men call for an active collaboration and appreciation of our differences.
Among the other speakers was Kara Eschbach, co-founder, editor in chief and publisher of Verily, a digital fashion and lifestyle magazine for women that aims “to empower and inspire women to be the best versions of themselves.”
She said the qualities women have, like beauty, are a gift.
“To reject the importance of the physical world is to turn the whole human experience into a sort of utilitarian exercise away of the use of a thing only in so far as it contributes to our salvation which misses the full scope of our creation,” she said. “The human heart is drawn to and attracted to beauty. That’s the thing for women, women are just absolutely beautiful.”
Feminine values also are human values, said Sister Norma Pimentel, another conference speaker. A Missionary of Jesus, Sister Norma is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
Sister Norma Pimentel is seen at a White House Easter breakfast in April. (CNS photo/Reuters)
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande has been taking care of the needs of unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border into the Rio Grande Valley.
“We as women in the world and especially in the United States are called to open our hearts as women to welcome the stranger, the child that needs us. Just like Mary would … open her heart to welcome us.” she told Catholic News Service. “Only we as (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
Somali refugees in a tent in 2011 at the Ifo Extension refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (CNS photo/Dai Kurokawa, EPA)
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marked today’s World Refugee Day with an appeal to assist and accompany refugees as well as remedy the injustices and conflicts that force people to flee.
Throughout his pontificate, he has repeatedly underlined the plight of people compelled to leave their home and the Gospel call to “welcome the stranger”:
Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes …
— Pope Francis, World Message for Migrants & Refugees 2014
Too often you have not been welcomed. Forgive the closure and indifference of our societies, which fear the change of life and mentality that your presence requires. Treated as a burden, as problem, a cost, you are instead a gift. You offer witness of how our gracious and merciful our God knows how to transform the evil and injustice you suffer into a good for all.
— Pope Francis, Message to Jesuit “Astalli” refugee center in Rome 2016
A displaced woman carries her sleeping child June 15 at a refugee camp near Mosul, Iraq. (CNS photo/Azad Lashkari, Reuters)
In an effort to give voice to some of the 60 million estimated refugees in the world, Jesuit Refugee Service interviewed a handful of the many people they help. They produced this video as part of their campaign, “Open minds, unlock potential,” which is promoting the need to offer education to and be receptive of new arrivals.
The (Read More)
“Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” — Luke 9:24
June 19, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
2) Galatians 3:26-29
Gospel: Luke 9:18-24
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples acknowledge him as “the Christ of God,” the promised Messiah who will save the world.
He proceeds to tell them how this will happen: through his suffering, death and resurrection. Then he adds that whoever “wishes to come after me” would have to give up his former way of life and take on Jesus’ way, including the suffering that goes along with it.
No doubt if there had been a Galilean word for “yikes!” the disciples would have uttered it at that point. It’s one thing to know and accept who Jesus is. The harder part comes in facing what that means in one’s relationship with him and in choosing to spend one’s life following him.
As a catechist, I often sensed this struggle in teenagers preparing for confirmation. The young people came with a wide range of faith formation prior to entering the program. Some had attended parish formation classes since they were in kindergarten; others had received rigorous religious education in Catholic school; and still others had only minimal catechesis since receiving their first Communion as second-graders.
Each year, as the class progressed, I saw nearly all of the young people grow to an understanding and acceptance of who Jesus is. But not all seemed certain about their desire to be confirmed in the church.
Interestingly, the individuals most conflicted were those who had a personal, spiritual relationship with Jesus. Invariably, as the day for the sacrament approached, those young people would tell me, “I don’t think I’m ready.”
They didn’t take this step lightly. For them, coming into full participation in the church was a serious moment of truth. It meant making the decision to actively follow Jesus as a disciple with all the complications that entails.
Most of these conscientious ones chose to be confirmed. But a few decided to wait until they felt sure they could hold up their end of the bargain.
I’ve never worried for their souls. It was obvious they had a deep faith in Jesus as their guide and (Read More)
By Nicolette Paglioni
(Photo by Nicolette Paglioni)
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is showcasing Benedictine Father Stephen Reid’s artwork in an exhibit that opened Feb. 15 and will close soon.
The small, quiet gallery located in the shrine’s Memorial Hall includes 14 wood carvings and two large oil paintings; while most pieces have no date listed, it is believed that Father Reid created most of his art between the 1950s and 1980s.
Born in 1912 to Methodist parents in the Shenandoah Mountains, Father Reid led an obscure early life. He attended the University of Virginia, possibly in the early 1930s, where he may have studied literature and French.
The national’s shrine’s Memorial Hall. (Photo by Nicolette Paglioni)
After moving to Washington for reasons unknown, he received instruction from a priest at Nativity Catholic Church. He then became a Catholic and shortly after joined St. Anselm’s Abbey. There, he took the name Stephen in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1945. No one knows for sure what led to his conversion and entrance into St. Anselm’s, but Abbot James Wiseman, his contemporary, believes that the centrality of the liturgy, the Benedictine emphasis on service, and the close-knit community of Catholic men “striving to serve God,” might have attracted Father Reid to monastic life.
During his time at St. Anselm’s Abbey, Father Reid had many roles. He taught French, English and religion. He helped students use the typesetter to print their publications. He even founded the Priory Players theater troupe, and directed, costumed, and built the sets for their annual productions.
(Photo by Nicolette Paglioni)
He became well known at St. Anselm’s for his artwork, which now adorns the halls of both the abbey and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Glen Burnie, Maryland, where he served as a parish priest for over a decade.
The sculptures and paintings on display at the national shrine have drawn attention for their abstract form and simple — but not simplistic — design. Contrary to the familiar, detailed elegance of most Catholic sculpture, Father Reid seeks to accentuate, not his own talent, but the subjects of his sculptures using attenuated figures and flowing woods. Similarly, Father Reid wanted to avoid rendering the saints of his paintings as objects rather than subjects.
Father Reid hoped to “disrupt habitual responses” to religious art with his unique style, according to Bruce (Read More)
One of the most common shortcomings in the works of artists today is poor drawing ability. There is a perception among some, especially if working in the highly symbolic styles of the gothic, the iconographic or even the style featured recently, the Beuronese style, that the artist can hide his lack of technical skill behind the stylistic elements. I have heard people say that they signed up for icon painting classes for example, because they think that they don’t need to be so good at drawing.
The same thing happens in mainstream arts schools, students opt for Expressionistic styles because they know that they can’t be held to account for how bad the drawing is – they can hide the lack of skill behind wild and flamboyant brush strokes. Many just forgo the paintbrush altogether, pick up a video camera and go for conceptual art.
This may be acceptable in the context of 20th century art styles, but I suggest this is not good enough for sacred art, no matter what style we want to work in.
In fact it is more difficult to work within a particular tradition and retain accuracy in drawing. It requires the artist to understand both where he must be precise in reflecting nature, and where he must be precise in deviating from natural appearances in accordance with the demands of the style of the tradition.
Artists quite often show me their work and one of the usual comments I make is, you need to improve your drawing. It is great that there are more and more people who are looking to traditional forms as inspiration for sacred art and so I always want to be encouraging. There is hope, drawing is a skill that can be taught. Someone who wants to learn to draw can spend time learning the academic method of drawing – this trains the eye to observe nature and then to render it in two dimensions. Another thing to consider is an illustrators’ course, in which one can learn how to create new images without always having to set up a tableau of figures posing for the image. At some point the good artist does need to be able to go beyond simply drawing what he can see. He must be able to draw what is in his imagination too.
Here are two examples of faults that I often see. I don’t like highlighting what is (Read More)
“I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” — Galatians 2:20
June 12, Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
2) Galatians 2:16, 19-21
Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3 or Luke 7:36-50
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
This Wednesday, Bettina will spend two hours volunteering at her community’s free clinic, which offers a range of medical services for the working poor. She’s not a medical volunteer but goes to the clinic every Wednesday to greet and take information from clients and potential clients to determine or confirm their eligibility for services.
She’s aware that her tasks are minimal and that her annual monetary donation to the clinic is far more valuable than her service, but she has continued her weekly stint for years simply because she loves the free clinic for how it makes a significant difference in individuals’ lives — including hers.
She loves seeing the staff and volunteer nurses, doctors, dentists and pharmacists treat the patients with respect and genuine concern. She loves observing the easy, familiar relationship that various clinic personnel have with patients who have depended on them for years. Bettina’s love of the clinic is personal.
Many years ago, she was a patient there. Struggling financially and psychologically while trying to put herself through college, she depended on the free clinic for her regular medication for depression. The clinic literally was her salvation for two years.
Our Scriptures for this weekend speak about God’s saving mercy. The Gospel tells how a person’s gratitude for being saved by Jesus’ mercy produces a deep and lasting love. A woman anointing Jesus’ feet after bathing them with her tears was lifted out of a life bound by sin. Now her love for him was sealed.
Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees that a personal experience of love and mercy begets a greater response of love and mercy than a lesser relationship. Bettina’s love and commitment to the free clinic grew out of her experience of mercy. Once lost in the darkness of depression, she was lifted free to have a productive future. Her gratitude to God and the people at the free clinic who do God’s work of compassion (Read More)
Andrew Thornton-Norris offers readers a his poem, Moments of Vision, along with an explanation of its composition. An Englishman based in the West of England, whose work is admired and published on both sides of the Atlantic, Andrew teaches literature and poetry at Pontifex.University.
Andrew wrote an earlier blog posting called ‘Redeeming Romanticism’ by which he meant raising the purpose, or end of the genre to something higher, what it ought to be. In this poem he gives an example of what he was describing. I find it fascinating how he brings modern ideas of form into what has at its heart a traditional structure.
Moments of Vision
1. The Apophatic (After T.E. Hulme)
O moon hanging there not lighting up
The darkness but just leaving it obscure,
Reflecting light that’s hidden for a time:
You are the blessed sacrament that shines
Upon the darkness of their majesty.
2. Helen’s Face
The female body is the battlefield
In the war that’s taking place between
The Word, the world, the devil and the flesh:
The judgement cast upon it, lust that it
Betrays and crimes that are committed there.
3. The Hymn of the Nuptial Mystery
In intimate relation we are in
Eternal intimate relationship
Within our souls and beating in our hearts
The passion of transcendent being back
Together that we thought we’d left behind.
The Forty Days and Forty Nights is when
God’s Kingdom is the desert where we meet
Him in the hidden fasting and the prayer
That separates us from the world outside
And brings us to the peace of penitence.
5. Dead Souls
All beauty’s holy and eternal and
Destroyed by commodification,
Which brings it back to dust in an
Embittered fall from heaven earthward but
The hope of faith is in the Death of God.
6. The Flower Bed
When I went back to the place where I
Had slept and saw the mess of lying there
I felt forboding of the grave and rushed
To get away but now I see perhaps
One heaven sent and love to contemplate.
When the whole world and all its life
And history is here to hand and at
The touch or click upon a button then
The only way to turn to get away
Is inwards, walk into the world within.
8. Sapperton Tunnel
Between the catchment of the Severn and
The Thames, the way of life is different,
The valley sides that crumble down into
The houses flowing streamward down below,
Suggestive of the valley of the Wye.
9. The Passion of the Lord is the Birth of Love
As fires from tiny flames great cities fell
My love for you began with just a (Read More)
“The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” — Luke 7:15
June 5, Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) 1 Kings 17:17-24
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
2) Galatians 1:11-14a, 15ac, 16a, 17, 19
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
Across the decades since I came into the church in 1974, I have seen many instances where God was at work in the world. I’ve seen healings and many more instances of God bringing about good results in situations for which there was no reasonable hope.
But there are abuses of the belief in miracles. The worst I ever heard about came through a friend who was teaching in East Texas. While there, she heard of the death of an infant for whom a Pentecostal church had prayed fervently. At the funeral, it was reported, the pastor lifted the lifeless infant in the air and declared, “This is lack of faith!”
That horrible moment must have caused some in the community to question their authentic faith in and love of God. The preacher’s arrogance and self-righteousness confused “faith” with human will as he suggested the people’s prayers weren’t good enough to save the infant.
Today’s readings hold the antidote to such flawed thinking by pointing out that God, not human strength, has miraculous power.
In the passage from Kings, the prophet Elijah cries out to God to restore life to the only son of the widow who was providing him shelter. Elijah, in service to God, pleaded the widow’s case and her son was saved — not by Elijah’s action, but by God’s.
When Elijah restored the child to his mother, she responded. “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is “moved with pity” when he witnesses a mother, also a widow, who has lost her son. He steps forward, touches the coffin and says, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” He is restored to life and to his mother.
The crowd, witnessing these events cries out, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.”
God was glorified in action in the first case by the faith-filled holy (Read More)
I have become aware over the last couple of years of contemporary artists looking to the 19th century Beuronese school for inspiration when painting for the liturgy. Time will be ultimate test of how appropriate this is, but my initial reaction is that this is good thing. I thought that I would give some thoughts as to why I think this.
Stylistically, Beuronese school is an interesting cul-de-sac that sits outside the mainstream of the Christian tradition. It is named after the town of Beuron in Germany which is the location of the Benedictine community in which the school originated in the mid-19th century.
The most well known artists who painted in this style in Europe are Desiderius Lenz (d 1928) and Gabriel Wuger (d 1892). In the United States, the walls and the ceiling of the abbey church of the Benedictines at Conception Abbey in Missouri, are decorated primarily with authentic examples of the Beuronese style. The abbey website tells us that the work was done between 1893 and 1897, by several monks of Conception, most notably Lukas Etlin (d. 1927), Hildebrand Roseler (d. 1923), and Ildephonse Kuhn (d. 1921), the latter two of whom had studied art at Beuron.
The original Beuronese artists were reacting against what was the dominant form of sacred art being painted for the churches of the Roman Rite at the time. This dominant style was an overly naturalistic and sentimental form of academic art, the product of the French academies and ateliers. The most well known artist of this decadent form is probably the Frenchman Bougeureaux. (For an in-depth discussion of this over naturalism in academic art read Is Some Sacred Art Too Naturalistic?)
Authentic Christian art has a style that is always a carefully worked out balance of naturalism (sometimes referred to as ‘realism’) and idealism. The naturalism in art tells us visually what is being painted – put simply if you want to paint a man it must look like a man, with a human body and limbs and so on. The idealistic element of the style is a controlled deviation from strict adherence to natural appearances by which the artist reveals invisible truths. The invisible truths that the artist might reveal, though style, are that man has a soul and a spirit that is intellect and will, for example.
It is this deviation from strict ‘photographic’ naturalism that characterizes the style (Read More)
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” — Luke 9:13
May 29, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 14:18-20
2) 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel: Luke 9:11b-17
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
One day, just after starting my first job on a parish staff, I went searching for paper stock and wandered into the wrong supply closet, where I stumbled onto the church’s stash of sacramental wine.
I know it’s not really a “stash,” but to me, a recent convert at the time, it seemed like it. I stood staring at several stacks of common corrugated cardboard boxes that contained large bottles of wine — ordered from a wholesale distributor. But I knew the bottles’ secret.
My initial reaction was that I’d exposed them, opened the door on them before they became the blood of Christ. It was like unwittingly finding Superman’s Clark Kent clothes.
This week’s readings recall the covenant of Christ’s body and blood, transformed from ordinary bread and wine and given for our nourishment and salvation. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul recollects Jesus establishing that covenant at the Last Supper.
But the Gospel story of the multiplication of loaves and fish emphasizes the infinite supply of the Lord’s offering. We witness on the mountainside Jesus beginning with a small amount of bread and feeding thousands of his hungry followers. When all were satisfied, there was plenty available for whoever would come later.
The message is that an endless supply line will continue everywhere and forever, as long as people come seeking Jesus.
Since the Last Supper, Christians have provided bread and wine from sources in their own communities throughout the world and throughout the centuries — from vineyards and wheat fields to casks, jars and ovens to bottles and boxes to storehouses and closets.
From there, they are brought to altars, where they are consecrated as Jesus’ body and blood to nourish and save the faithful again and again.
I found one tiny store of ordinary wine in an appropriately unremarkable closet in a church office building. But as I received it in Communion the next Sunday, it was not the same, and neither was (Read More)
Cardinal Loris Capovilla, St. John XXIII’s secretary and the oldest member of College of Cardinals, has died at the age of 100.
Four years ago we interviewed then-Archbishop Capovilla, who shared his insights on the Second Vatican Council and his memories of the future saint.
Filed under: (Read More)
When I decided I wanted to be an artist, I started to investigate the training that was given traditionally to artists in the past. This involved the study of a number of things: how the skills of the art, painting and drawing for example, were transmitted; the great works of Catholic culture so that the artists understands the tradition in which he is working; and a formation of the person, so that he is open to inspiration, and can apprehend beauty and work beautifully.
This article is an attempt to articulate concisely what I discovered (and describe in greater length in the book the Way of Beauty) – that a formation in beauty, was not only part of a general Catholic education, but in fact was identical with what a general Catholic education ought to be, and so rarely is.
The only difference between an artist’s education and any good general education was the vocational element, in this case painting. It occurred to me that this could change according to the particular calling of each person. Then the rest would benefit every person, regardless of his precise calling in life and could complement all other study and human activity.
I believe also, incidentally, that this is a program that could be also a formation of people as evangelists who can participate in the New Evangelization, shining with the Light of Christ as they go about their daily business.
The content of the syllabus, which I do not describe in detail here is superficially similar to many humanities and liberal arts educations. However, in contrast to many of these existing educations (the ones that I have looked at, at least), it emphasizes in its pedagogical method more strongly what I see as an essential element, that of praxis – putting into practice what is learnt and so developing the faculty of the creativity by creating beautiful things..
The other key element – perhaps the most important – is that of consciously ordering of everything to man’s ultimate end and relating it to the highest form of praxis – the worship of God.
Teachers and students alike should be able to make the connection between any element of study and our purpose in life. Then the teachers know the answer to the question, why teach? And students know the answer to the question, why learn? And each will be motivated all the more to fulfill their (Read More)