Good Friday/Easter 2021: Christ’s Embrace

Jesus Christ Our Lord and Redeemer silently hangs in agony on the Cross. His bloody arms stretched wide as if to embrace us. We safely stand at a distance. We are mute and deafened by sounds that intensify our cowardice. Death arrives and it is over. Jesus is quietly carried away and buried. Days pass, filled with doubts we walk along a path and suddenly see Someone. Jesus. We draw back, stopped by the sight of the pierced hands of the One we know and love. We are hesitant, but the sound of His voice propels us toward Him. He … Continue reading Good Friday/Easter 2021: Christ’s Embrace

Vatican Creche – 2020 – A Contemptuous Insult

The Vatican, last week, unveiled the 2020 Christmas crèche in St. Peter’s Square. Historical tradition explains that St. Francis of Assisi was the first to promote the display of the birth of Our Lord. He believed that it would edify and improve  prayerful worship of Jesus, the moment of His Nativity, and subsequent events. For approximately 800 years the Christmas crèche has been portrayed in a respectful and accurate way. It combined different elements of the Nativity found in Sacred Scripture into one scene that conveys spiritual and historical truth to the viewer. Within the last fifty years people with … Continue reading Vatican Creche – 2020 – A Contemptuous Insult

St. Lawrence – Deacon and Martyr

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence, a deacon and third century martyr. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of Rome who served as the Pope’s ministers during Holy Mass and as his administrators to the people of Rome. There is little historical evidence remaining on St. Lawrence. His Acts had been lost by the time of St. Augustine in the 4th century, yet, Pope St. Leo the Great and St. Augustine wrote about him and his martyrdom. The tradition of the Church states that he was a native of northern Spain and was ordained by Pope St. Sixtus … Continue reading St. Lawrence – Deacon and Martyr

Chinese Martyrs and the Beautiful Art of Ken Jan Woo

This post was previously published in 2012; however I desired to rewrite and republish it because of the crisis the Chinese Catholic Church, that is loyal to Rome, is experiencing this day. The Communist Chinese Government’s persecution of the Church has already produced contemporary martyrs to the faith.  We remember today, July 9th, the 120 martyrs who died in China between the years 1648 and 1930. Eighty-seven of these were native born Chinese and were children, parents, catechists, and simple laborers ranging in age from nine to seventy-two. In the early 19th century, St. Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese … Continue reading Chinese Martyrs and the Beautiful Art of Ken Jan Woo

The Virgin Mary – Racial Supremacy and Artistic Diversity

Artistic images of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, as portrayed by different cultures within historical periods, have been part of world history for centuries. Below are a few examples of these images. The various images of Jesus and His Mother portrayed by each ethnic group are beautiful and have spiritual meaning. Are the artists of these works prejudiced or racist? Because of the controversy over comments made by political activists over the last few weeks it would appear that the motive of cultural artistic contributions is based on racial superiority. Their opinion  points to the obvious truth that in our social … Continue reading The Virgin Mary – Racial Supremacy and Artistic Diversity

Iconoclasm and Shaun King

In the June 22, 2020 issue of Newsweek an on-line article by Aila Slisco reported some statements by political activist Mr. Shaun King.  She states: “He [King] also remarked that stained glass windows and other images of a white Jesus, his European mother and their white friends should all be destroyed, insisting they are racist, examples of ethnic propaganda, and “a form of white supremacy. “They should all come down.” (I’ll comment on these statements by Mr. King in another post). King’s comments came in association with Black Lives Matter protests against the brutality of some police officers toward minorities. … Continue reading Iconoclasm and Shaun King

Good Friday 2020

Father, by the merits of your Son’s passion, death, and resurrection  hear us in our troubles and fears. Strengthen us against anxiety and illness. This day allow us to join Jesus’ suffering with ours. Please have mercy on the souls of those who, from this current pandemic, pass into eternal life. Thank you Lord, for Your Son’s sacrifice, love, and mercy. “It was about nine in the morning when they nailed Jesus to the Cross. From noon until three o’clock there was darkness over the whole world. At three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend … Continue reading Good Friday 2020

Virgin Mary: Trust and Obedience in the Lord

On this solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25th, we remember St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation: “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” “And when the angel had come to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” When she had heard him she was troubled at his word and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. … Continue reading Virgin Mary: Trust and Obedience in the Lord

Do Pagans Go To Heaven or Hell?

by Deacon Paul O. Iacono, Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island USA The author of the interesting and challenging blog site on sacred art and its analysis called Catchlight sent me two questions yesterday. They related to my last post which was entitled Fatima Messages, Pagans in the Vatican, and the End Times. “Paul, your protestations begs the question, do pagans go to Heaven? If so, why? If not, why not?”      from Bernard Gallagher These are excellent questions. Before I attempt to answer them my readers should understand that I am a committed and Traditional Roman Catholic. His questions will be answered … Continue reading Do Pagans Go To Heaven or Hell?

The Assumption of Our Mother Mary – We Venerate Her Today

We celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. In her honor let us review some the Church’s truths; dogmas which progressed to the point of Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaiming the meaning of the Blessed Mother’s life and her Assumption into Heaven. We are able to see this progression through Sacred Scripture, the various early ecumenical Councils of the Church, the individual writings of the early Church fathers (such as St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Cassian, St. Vincent of Lerins, St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Augustine, St. John of Damascus, and the Gothic Missal of the 6th century). The … Continue reading The Assumption of Our Mother Mary – We Venerate Her Today

Bernini’s Bronze Sculpture of Four “Giants” of the Church

Today, May 2nd, is the “Memorial” day of St. Athanasius, a Doctor (profound theologian) of the Church. There are four “giants” of the Nicene  and Post Nicene period, all are known as “Doctors” of the Church: St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Augustine. They are immortalized in bronze by  the Renaissance sculptor, Bernini, and are portrayed in his magnificent sculpture of the Throne of St. Peter found in the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom are saints of both the Latin and the Greek Rites of the Church. Both were bishops. Yet, Bernini … Continue reading Bernini’s Bronze Sculpture of Four “Giants” of the Church

Sacred Icons and Sacred Images – the Nicene Debate Continues!

I would like to thank one of my readers who identified the  contemporary icon of St. Spyridon (thanks Carol!). The iconographer is the Catholic priest William Hart McNichols. He is a very talented artist who paints traditional icons and sacred images. At times, he steps out of the bounds of the traditional approach and adds his own personal interpretation of the person he is portraying. His artistic vision is unique. John Daly from Australia emailed me this morning to provide further grist for our mill concerning St. Athanasius, St. Spyridon, and the Council of Nicaea. One of the participants in … Continue reading Sacred Icons and Sacred Images – the Nicene Debate Continues!

St. Athanasius and St. Spyridon: A Correction and Another Interpretation – Let’s Take A Closer Look!

I am always very appreciative of my readers writing to me and providing new information and interpretations of sacred icons and images. Happily, that occurred last evening when a reader, Mr. John Daly from Australia, provided me with information on the second icon that was in yesterday’s post on St. Athanasius. Let me provide you with that image so we will have a reference point: Mr. Daly is correct – it is St. Spyridon (born AD 270, died 340). Let’s take a look at the reasons for this correction: The bishop castigating the heretic Arius is wearing a distinctive hat. … Continue reading St. Athanasius and St. Spyridon: A Correction and Another Interpretation – Let’s Take A Closer Look!

St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons

St. Athanasius of Alexandria was “the Lion” of the Council of Nicaea. He was instrumental in providing well argued testimony rebuking the heretic Arius during the Council’s debates. His verbal skills, as powerful and commanding as a lion, shredded Arius’ arguments. His eloquence convinced the assembled bishops of the correct dogma that Jesus Christ has two, separate and distinct, natures (divine and human), and that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. The heretic Arius insisted that Jesus was “just a creature” of God. The Council’s main purpose was to address the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the … Continue reading St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons

Saint Nicholas Slaps a Heretic! A Reflection Appropriate for Palm Sunday

The extensive Gospel reading for Palm Sunday relates the Scriptural and historical truth that Jesus  triumphantly entered Jerusalem, yet, five days later He was arrested, put on trial, tortured, and executed. As you know, the religious and secular leaders of Israel did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. They were adamant about the fact that Jesus was just a man and that His claims, teachings, and healings were all fraudulent.  Their disbelief took place during the first century, yet, two hundred years later there were Christians saying the same thing. The questions came down to, “Who … Continue reading Saint Nicholas Slaps a Heretic! A Reflection Appropriate for Palm Sunday

The Holy Trinity – Communication Through Word and Art

Is communication just a trait of human beings? Is it a trait of God? The Dogma of the Holy Trinity is one of the great Mysteries of the Christian Faith.  All Christians acknowledge and accept that The One True God, the divine Holy Trinity, are three separate and distinct Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is not three separate Gods. They are one God in three Divine Persons. This is known as the dogma of the “consubstantial” Trinity: each of the three Persons is God – completely and entirely. These ideas were debated and verified by … Continue reading The Holy Trinity – Communication Through Word and Art

God is a God of Compassion

“God of all compassion, Father of all goodness, to heal the wounds our sins and selfishness bring upon us You bid us turn to fasting, prayer, and sharing with our brothers and sisters. We acknowledge our sinfulness, our guilt is ever before us; when our weakness causes discouragement, let your compassion fill us with hope and lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy. Grant this through Christ our Lord.”*    Amen.   *Roman Breviary – Vol. 2; Third Sunday of Lent, Evening Prayer I, Closing Prayer, pg. 210. Continue reading God is a God of Compassion

Luke: 16: 19-31 – Is Lazarus in Your House?

This passage from the Gospel of St. Luke is a parable about a destitute man named Lazarus and a rich man, who at times is called by the name Dives (the word dives in the Latin Bible refers to a “rich man”). Jesus places Lazarus sitting day after day by the rich man’s front door. Lazarus is sick. He is at Dives’ home hoping to receive a scrap of food from his table. The food never comes. Jesus continues to tell the story which culminates in the death of both men and their subsequent judgment.  Lazarus is welcomed into Paradise and is … Continue reading Luke: 16: 19-31 – Is Lazarus in Your House?

Christ in the Wilderness: Lent – the Season of Preparation – Luke 4: 1-2.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, He was famished. (Gospel of Luke chapter 4: verses 1-2) In the extraordinary painting  below, we see Jesus after He was led into the desert wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He is surrounded by rocks and sand. He sits on a boulder, hands in front of Him. His eyes are filled with the knowledge of reality, of passions, power, … Continue reading Christ in the Wilderness: Lent – the Season of Preparation – Luke 4: 1-2.

Apologists – Additional Saints Prior to the Council of Nicaea

Today’s post will continue to add to my two previous posts: The Apologists (Defenders of the Faith) – Part 7, and The Apologists – Comparing Icons.  The men below are also known as the Ante Nicene Fathers. The word Ante (before) refers to the fact that they defended the Faith during the terrible persecutions of the first three centuries of the Church (the Domitian, Decian, Valerian, and Diocletian persecutions). These persecutions occurred prior to the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). The Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine in order for the assembled bishops, and their representatives from throughout … Continue reading Apologists – Additional Saints Prior to the Council of Nicaea

Icons – Important Similarities/Differences

Can you pick out the seven similarities between the two sacred icons of Church Apologists that are below? The differences?   Let’s take a look at the two icons above. Both are correct in the way they are represented. From an artistic and symbolic point-of-view there are distinct similarities. They have seven similarities: the beard (signifying experience, authority, and that the saint is an elder); a large, high forehead (signifying Christian wisdom as influenced by the Holy Spirit which is visualized through the saint’s works and knowledge); the Holy Cross upon the priest’s stole (it appears as a garment that circles the … Continue reading Icons – Important Similarities/Differences

Christian Witness and Sacred Art – The Early Church Fathers – Part 7

A Challenge: Are you as a Christian artist willing to internalize the message of the saint, scene, or Scripture passage you are artistically representing, and then, correctly portray it according to Church tradition? Sacred artists must have more than just an awarenesses of Jesus, His Mother, angels and  saints because their witness provides us with the foundation stones of our Faith. Sacred artists must be more than artists who propose “Art for art’s sake”. If we do this what do we become? We become evangelists to the truth, goodness, and beauty of God, through the witness of Jesus Christ and … Continue reading Christian Witness and Sacred Art – The Early Church Fathers – Part 7

The Apostolic Fathers in Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Part Six

This post and an upcoming posts will very briefly explain some of the major figures in the Church history during the period of AD 65 through AD 155 – the period known as the age of the Apostolic Fathers. Ultimately, Parts 7 through 9 will cover some of the key leaders within the three subsequent periods of the early  Church (circa AD 155 to circa AD 800). I am presenting this material because it is critical for anyone studying and painting sacred images and sacred icons to be aware of the theological understanding of the scholars and bishops in the … Continue reading The Apostolic Fathers in Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Part Six