We are about to begin the second week of Advent and as you may know the word Advent has its root in the Latin word adventus which means “coming.” The liturgical term adventus is similar to the Greek word parousia which refers to the Second Coming of Christ at the final judgment of the world. Through the millenia Church scholars have linked these two words together because they hope to instill within us the understanding that we are on a spiritual journey. In this journey we experience the waiting period – the longing – for the coming of Jesus, the actual … Continue reading The Immaculate Conception of Mary – The Beauty of the New Eve
The novels of Charles Dickens have always been a favorite of mine, for contained within them are so many marvelous and accurate observations of human nature. For example, in his novel The Christmas Carol, Dickens knew that each of us carries within our hearts and memories an accumulation of past Advent and Christmas seasons – seasons that dramatically influence the way we prepare and celebrate the birth of Jesus. All of our past and present preparations for the Solemnity of Christmas either enriches or diminishes our love for our Lord and for those who will share in His birthday with … Continue reading What Does Charles Dickens Have To Do With St. Francis Xavier?!
Teresa Rice, prolific essayist and insightful commentator at the catholibertarian.com blog has nominated The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts for the Lumen Christi award. This is our fourth award nomination, and I must say, I am also deeply touched an honored by it. Thank you very much. I am told that I must answer three questions, and then nominate another blogger. First, “the name of my favorite saint,” well, its a split decision: St. Thomas Aquinas and Beato Fra Angelico. For Aquinas expressed the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through scholarship and Angelico expressed it through artistic creativity. … Continue reading The Lumen Christi Award
Wishing all Americans a Happy Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and all friends and followers of this blog a blessed and creative day. The statement below was released by Pope Benedict 16th this morning. It contains some very poignant and relevant points for meditation and implementation. As artists we have a wonderful responsibility to be “Guardians of Beauty in the World” – especially the beauty of faith. Enjoy! “Vatican City, 22 November 2012 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in the Aula Magna of the Palazzo San Pio X, the Pontifical Academies held their seventeenth public session on the … Continue reading A Papal Statement: The Beauty Of Faith Is Not An Obstacle To Artistic Creation
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Roman Breviary tells us that in a sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux he explains that “The martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted. He went on to say to Mary: And your own heart will be pierced by a sword.” Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. That feast asks us … Continue reading Our Lady of Sorrows – Seven Sorrows – Seven Graces
Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. During the first 280 years of its life the Catholic Church was severely persecuted. The symbol of the Cross, the symbol of public humiliation and excruciating death, was rarely used in our Christian iconography. But this doesn’t mean that the early Christians were reluctant to express their devotion to the Cross. Writing in the year 204, the Christian theologian Tertullian said: “At every going in and out, when we put on our clothes, when we sit at table, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace … Continue reading The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Jesus
This is my third post in as many days on Our Blessed Mother Mary. September is an appropriate time to remember the significance of Mary in the life of the Church and, more importantly, in our own lives. For as the Mother of God she is, necessarily, the mother of our own spiritual life. She nurtures us to understand that her Son is always there for us. He does not impose Himself on us and neither does Mary. They desire us to freely choose kinship with them. Today, September 12th is the memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary. The … Continue reading The Most Holy Name of Mary
Many years ago, Blessed John Paul 2 spoke to the seminarians of Rome on this, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. He began his homily with the phrase: “Fear not!” Echoing the archangel’s comments to our Blessed Mother he was trying to calm the natural anxiety of those young men as they prepared for their Gospel ministry in the world. The Pope counseled them that “We must all accept the call. We must listen [to the Holy Spirit], and use the grace that we have received from God. We must shore up our strength, and say, “Yes” in confidence and certainty to the … Continue reading The Solemnity of the Annunciation – The Confident Sacrifice Of A Pure Heart
In this series on the Artist As Contemplative it is my hope that you are exposed to some different techniques that may assist you in your prayer relationship with Our Lord. The last post in this series specifically mentioned that we do not need to use many words during prayer. This may be uncomfortable for us at first since we have developed into a species that appears to constantly need some type of noise, talk, music, or in some cases, cacophony going on inside our mind. I am not a social psychologist so I will not venture a reason for … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 4 – A Meditation on the Scourging of Christ
At the birth of Christ, the seven hundred year old messianic prophecies of the prophet Isaiah became an historic reality. On a yearly basis, we celebrate and remember that moment on the Feast day of St. Joseph, the patron of the universal Church; for we see in Joseph not only a loyal husband and foster father of Jesus – our Savior – but also a man of conviction and prayer. Upon hearing that Mary is pregnant Joseph is filled with pain and anger. Understandably, at first, he is not ready to say “yes” to Mary and her story of divine … Continue reading The Feast of St. Joseph – Universal Patron of the Church
Today, we are asking our good friend, St. Teresa of Avila to help us in the process of thinking clearly about prayer. She is a worthy mentor – for she cuts to the heart of the matter in a practical and meaningful way. In her Book of Foundations, she makes many important observations that will help us become more focused on what we are doing in prayer. This focus will in turn help us with our artistic creativity. A few examples of her perceptive thoughts: “The first thing I wish to discuss, as far as my limited understanding will allow, … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 3 – Prayer Tips
The Gospel of St Mark, chapter 9: 14-29, challenges us to ask ourselves the question “How does the effective disciple of Jesus live his or her life?” Clearly the ineffectiveness of Jesus’ disciples in doing His work is evidenced when the father of the possessed boy complains to Jesus that His disciples were unable to help his son, and even questions the power of Jesus to intervene on his son’s behalf. Jesus responds with disappointment tinged with anger over the actions of some of His disciples; people who took it upon themselves to act in Jesus’ name but were not … Continue reading Making Room In Your Heart for God, Prayer, and Creativity
There is a very striking phrase from yesterday morning’s Gospel: Mark says, “…and when they got out of the boat, the people at once recognized Him…” – they immediately recognized Him. The question that begs to be asked is “If they immediately recognized Him – what did they recognize?” Was it just the fact that they identified a teacher of profound importance, or a powerful prophet, or a new healer with extraordinary ability? Or did they recognize the fact that this person was someone totally above and beyond that – a man truly sent from God – to do God’s … Continue reading Perilous Times For People Of All Faiths
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain the story of the demoniac from the territory in northern Israel called the land of the Gerasenes. They describe the fact that the demons had united within this man for a specific purpose – to torment this poor sinner and to terrorize the countryside with demonic power so concentrated – that the evil was unable to be controlled. Unclean spirits fueled the demoniac’s actions; and as Jesus steps out of the boat onto the shore the demoniac immediately confronts Jesus and the demons within him beg to be left alone. Jesus … Continue reading The Demons Say “We Are Legion.” Jesus says “Trust Me.”
Today, January 23rd, is the Feast Day of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. St. Vincent was a deacon and served as a minister and trustworthy pastoral assistant of Bishop Valerius, of Saragossa, Spain. He was martyred in the year 304 during the ferocious persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Saint Vincent is the most famous martyr of Spain, and St. Augustine testifies to this in his sermons that Vincent’s acts of love and loyalty to Jesus Christ, and service to the Catholic faith, were so respected that they were read and discussed in all the churches of North Africa. Owing to the … Continue reading St. Vincent of Saragossa – Martyr – And An Artistic Challenge!
St. Thomas, in his Summa Theologiae, has a wonderful meditation on today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany. He says that “Salvation was to be through Christ and apply to all sorts and conditions of men because in Christ Jesus there cannot be Greek or Jew, slave and free man. In order that this should be foreshadowed in Christ’s birth, he was made known to men and women of all conditions, because as St. Augustine says, the shepherds were Israelites, the Magi were Gentiles, the first were near, the latter from afar: both hastened to Christ the cornerstone…. The Magi were wise … Continue reading Whose Star Do We Follow?
To all the friends, followers, and members of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, We wish you all a very Merry and Holy Christmas Season and a grace filled New Year! May the blessings of the child Jesus and the adult Savior remain with you, and your loved ones, throughout the coming months. We thank you so very much for your support, advice, and participation, and we look forward to sharing new artistic adventures with you during the next year! Thanks again for all that you have done to make the Institute meaningful and helpful in the promotion … Continue reading Christ Child by Fra Angelico
A very clear narrative greeted us in yesterday morning’s Gospel by St. Luke. He tells us that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God: walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord – they were blameless; but they have no child. Elizabeth was barren and both were elderly. We read of Zechariah silently bringing his heavy heart before the Lord – even after all those years – it was still burdened with disappointment. The couple probably remembered Psalm 112 which says: “Happy the man who fears the Lord, who takes delight in his commands. … Continue reading Five Days Before Christmas: A Unique Story About The Graciousness of God
The following photograph haunts my mind. I found it on the blog (http://soulblindministry.com/2011/12/12/necessity/) of an artist who had a horrific life changing experience and has now turned his life, and possibly his art, over to Christ. The photo stopped me cold. But you say, these shoppers could be wonderful, God fearing, neighbor loving people. True enough. Then, why do you judge them? I don’t. It’s the entire photograph. It makes me judge, and question, myself – in relation to God and my neighbor. This is truly one of the functions of the sacred arts. Copyright © 2011 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All … Continue reading Sacred Photography – A Shot That Will Rock Your Soul
Today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of all the Americas, recalls the apparition of our Blessed Mother on the hill of Tepeyac in present day Mexico City from December 9th through the 12th in the year 1531. Guadalupe is the Spanish translation of the Aztec phrase that Juan Diego heard Mary associate herself with – the name, interestingly, in Aztec means “she will crush the serpent of stone.” In the same year – 1531 – thousands of miles away in what today we call Germany – Martin Luther was pro- claiming his doctrine of protest and rebellion from … Continue reading A Beautiful Pregnant Young Woman And Her Message To A Weary World
Today is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “Rejoice!” The Church has us visualize this by the rose colored candle in the Advent wreath and the rose colored vestments. Gaudete Sunday appears at the midpoint of the Advent season, and we pause to rejoice and reflect on the marvelous work of God and His plan of salvation for us. Our readings show us Isaiah speaking of the splendid work of God – – St. Paul telling us to “give thanks and rejoice always,” not just in good times, but in all circumstances, and our Gospel describes St. John the Baptist testifying that the Light of … Continue reading The Joy Filled Christian – A Sermon on Survival in the Face of Tribulation
1) Mary’s Personal History Tradition tells us that Mary was the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. They were devoted Jews who raised their child to be loyal and pure within the Jewish holy tradition. Mary was born within the royal line of King David and was betrothed and later married Joseph, a respected Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Little is known of Mary’s day-to-day life other than the references to her in the Gospels. Those early references indicate that she was a loving, concerned, and devoted person. During her Son’s ministry she attended the wedding feast at Cana, was present at … Continue reading The Immaculate Conception – A Time To Reflect On The Meaning of Mary
The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, as a gathering place for sacred artists to create, share, learn, and pray together about their creation of sacred art, has blossomed into a small organization that has met the spiritual and creative needs of a number of people within, and outside, of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. This post, and the next three posts, will continue to discuss and display some of the work that was displayed by member artists at our Autumn meeting. One of those artists is the talented Eric Peter McLaughlin. Eric is an artist and a … Continue reading Shades of Monet – The Art of Eric Peter McLaughlin
After an article explaining the mission of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts appeared last June in our Diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic, I received a call from a lovely young woman by the name of Jamie Medeiros. She explained that she was from Massachusetts and that she, too, had been touched by the Holy Spirit to offer people the opportunity to blend the creation of beauty with personal prayer. She described the process through which she currently leads people to express themselves in art while they are praying – actually to make prayer part of their … Continue reading A Custodian of Beauty – The Talent of Artist Jamie Medeiros
One of the Institute’s members, Trudy Manney, has been an important contributor to St. Francis of Assisi Parish here in Wakefield, RI for many years. She is a painter and she also restores statues. If you ever visit St. Francis Church you will see the beautiful job she did in restoring the statue of our Blessed Mother. Trudy correctly composed the colors of Our Lady’s garments and did a fine job in her color choice for the skin tones of both the Blessed Mother and the infant Jesus. Besides the restoration of the Blessed Mother’s statue, Trudy also recently restored … Continue reading The Lovely Work of Artist Trudy Manney
Two weeks ago, at our Autumn Meeting of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, some of the members displayed examples of their secular and sacred art. The mission of the Institute is to deepen the prayer life of its participants by evangelizing the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through the understanding and creation of sacred art. Some of our members were involved in this effort before they became participants in the Institute – evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in many different ways, through the efforts of a variety of talents, to express the truth, beauty, … Continue reading The Beautiful Lace Needlework of Esther Paris
The following is a homily that I gave during the Inaugural Mass of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts which occurred on Friday October 28, 2011 at St. Francis of Assisi Church (Diocese of Providence) in Wakefield, Rhode Island USA. The Institute can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for membership information. We are on Facebook at Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. Tonight’s inaugural Mass of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts falls on the feast day of two Apostles – Saints Simon and Jude Thaddeus. The Gospel for today’s feast, speaks of how Jesus called the disciples … Continue reading Fra Angelico and Your Mission as a Sacred Artist
David Clayton, artist in residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, has written a wonderful essay that capsulizes the essential nature of what Pope Benedict 16th is saying about creating a culture of beauty. It should be required reading by all seminarians, clerics, and laypeople who are interested in evangelization and the recreation of a culture of beauty based on sound Gospel principles and the appeal to our innate sense of the beautiful. Please copy and paste the link below into your search engine bar and it should pop up for you. http://thewayofbeauty.org/2011/10/the-psalms-and-the-evangelisation-of-the-culture/ … Continue reading Beauty Built on Gospel Values
All the events of human history have to be backlit by the reality of our faith that God does not abandon His people. An example of this truth is today’s memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. This memorial was established by Pope St. Pius 5th in thanksgiving for the Catholic victory over the Muslim army and navy at the famous battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Many rosaries were said by the European faithful during the battle to stem the tide of the Islamic invasion. The admiral for the Catholic Fleet, Andrea Doria, had the miraculous image of … Continue reading Our Lady of the Rosary
Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is one of the patrons of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. St. Francis reminds us how we admire, and should emulate, the virtues of the saints. When we meditate on the life of St. Francis – three characteristics of spirit – three virtues – emerge. First, he was a simple man. He pursued simplicity. This does not mean that he was of limited intelligence, or that he pursued simplicity for simplicity sake, rather, it means that he tried, and was successful, at eliminating everything from his … Continue reading St. Francis of Assisi, Simplicity, and Sacred Artists
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