Catechetics and Catholic Art

Sacred art, by its very nature, is catechetical. The purpose of this art was and continues to be a method of instruction. The Catholic Church, in its Latin and Greek Rites, and the twenty-six Catholic Rites that are in union with Rome, have all produced magnificent sacred calligraphy and art; non-Catholic faiths have done this, too. Two thousand years ago Christians hiding in Rome inscribed images of Christ, the Blessed Mother and with the Christ child, and other Scriptural images on the walls of the catacombs. That art contributed to the catechesis of the early Christians. Two millennia later, Pope … Continue reading Catechetics and Catholic Art

Holy Triduum: A Video Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

This is a magnificent 30 minute overview of the places in Jerusalem in which Our Lord spent His last hours.  Please share with your families and others who would benefit from it. It is beautifully presented without the poor production values of other similar attempts.  This production was filmed, edited, and narrated by members of the Augustine Institute in Colorado.. Thanks. May you and your loved ones be blessed by Our Lord Jesus Christ and have a Holy and Blessed Easter season. https://watch.formed.org/holy-thursday/videos/triduum Continue reading Holy Triduum: A Video Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

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

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?

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?

Fra Angelico and the Armadio degli Argenti – Part 3 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition

Today’s post is Part 3 in my series that began on May 16, 2018 concerning the recently concluded exhibition of extraordinary egg tempera paintings by Fra Angelico. The exhibition was held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts and entitled Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth. Today’s  painting concerns a major piece of the exhibition – the Armadio degli Argenti.  The four panels of which the Gardner Museum only showed one is also known as the “Silver Chest.” It was commissioned in 1450 and completed in 1452, three years before Fra Angelico’s death. This panel (123 x 160 cm) … Continue reading Fra Angelico and the Armadio degli Argenti – Part 3 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition

Fra Angelico – The “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 1

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts is the only venue in America for the extraordinary “Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth” exhibition. This amazing collection of reliquaries which express the life of the Virgin Mary, and other paintings of the greatest painter of the Early Renaissance, will be on display until this Sunday May 20th, 2018. Earlier incorrect media reports had the last day as May 28th. I will be posting my photos of the Gardner Museum’s exhibit starting with this post and continuing on through the upcoming weeks and months. The exhibit consists of more than just the … Continue reading Fra Angelico – The “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 1

The Gospel of John 1:35-42 – An Invitation to Follow Jesus

In our Gospel today we hear John the Baptist proclaim “Behold the Lamb of God.” We see in our mind’s eye, Andrew and another disciple, probably St. John, listening to the Baptist say those words. Immediately after Jesus walks by they look at one another and, without saying a word, begin to follow Jesus. Jesus, sensing their presence, turns and seeing them says, “What are you looking for?” They say: “Rabbi where do you live?” They didn’t presume to say, “Rabbi we want to be your companions – we want to learn from you.” Rather they instinctually knew that this … Continue reading The Gospel of John 1:35-42 – An Invitation to Follow Jesus

Sin and the Sacred Artist

Our society is quite adept at pointing out the sins and foolishness of others. Cable TV, radio talk shows, and various web sites love to dwell on the ignorant and immoral actions of politicians, celebrities, and the man in the street. But, as sacred artists within the Christian Tradition, what does Jesus require of us? Jesus demands that we become countercultural. He requires us to be more concerned with our own sinfulness rather than the sins or inadequacies of others. When we first heard it years ago, last Sunday’s Gospel of Matthew 5: 17-37 must have caught us off guard – … Continue reading Sin and the Sacred Artist

Mary and Joseph’s “Yes” – The Risk of an Open Heart

Our Gospel today (4th Sunday of Advent, Matthew 1: 18-24)) provides us with the story of a young couple, Mary and Joseph, who through their pondering of God’s request for understanding and trust provide humanity with the opportunity for divine Redemption. It is in their collective “Yes” to the angel’s request, that God’s plan could be fulfilled. His strategy for humanity’s Redemption was patiently planned and executed. It was a plan, seen in the Holy Scriptures, that shows Him searching for His broken human family, seeking ways in which He can communicate His desire for love and friendship. God is very methodical in His … Continue reading Mary and Joseph’s “Yes” – The Risk of an Open Heart

The Apocalypse and Christian Duty – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

It has been said that we are living between times – between Advents – in the times between Christ’s first coming – as an infant in the manger, and His second coming – as Lord and Judge of this earth. Our Scriptures challenge us today – the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – with an important question: “Do my actions in public and private indicate that I am a disciple of Christ, dutifully preparing to meet the Lord?” You see, we could spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out the signs of the times, discussing this visionary … Continue reading The Apocalypse and Christian Duty – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Francis of Assisi, Faith, and Grace

The following is my homily for the 27th Week in Ordinary time delivered at St. Francis of Assisi Church Wakefield, Rhode Island USA, October 6, 2013. The memorial of St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on October 4th.  This weekend, as the Church remembers the life of St. Francis of Assisi, let’s pause for a moment and examine the virtues that energized Francis’ life. We can begin by saying that 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 … Continue reading St. Francis of Assisi, Faith, and Grace

The Virtue of Christian Responsibility

This weekend’s Gospel (26th Week in Ordinary Time) about Lazarus, and a rich man by the name of Dives, is filled with very concrete images about the virtue of Christian responsibility. Jesus’ message is twofold: first, He is saying that during his earthly life the rich man was not applying the teaching of the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures which speak of the obligation to hospitably help those around us. Jesus is also challenging us by mentioning that the rich man sinned. In the Hebrew language the word sin means to “miss the mark” and the rich man Dives clearly … Continue reading The Virtue of Christian Responsibility

The Gospel of St. Luke 12: 49-53 – The Sword of Christ

The following is a homily that will be delivered by Deacon Paul O. Iacono at St. Francis of Assisi Church, South Kingstown, Rhode Island on the weekend of August 17/18 2013. In our first Scriptural reading for this weekend (Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10) we see the prophet Jeremiah thrown into a well as a result of his faith-filled preaching. He was lowered into a mud filled cistern in an attempt to shut him up and tame his ability to disturb the people’s apathy. A month ago we witnessed the spiritually uplifting events of Steubenville East held here in South Kingstown, … Continue reading The Gospel of St. Luke 12: 49-53 – The Sword of Christ

Pentecost 2013

As we celebrate the birth of the Church at Pentecost (confer the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2 ff), we should be filled with an urgent need to obtain and, most importantly, use the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are available to us. Our Scriptures tells us that the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are: fear of the Lord (which means that we desire not to offend God in any way), understanding, counsel (which is supernatural prudence), fortitude, knowledge, piety, and wisdom. These Seven Gifts are received as a grace of God at the moment of our Baptism; … Continue reading Pentecost 2013

Good Friday

“Come, let us worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with His Precious Blood.” “If we wish to  understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, a one year old male, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possible save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the … Continue reading Good Friday

The Christmas Star of Bethlehem – Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Even though the vast majority of us are not astronomers, the famous star of Bethlehem still has a great ability to intrigue us especially as it relates to its actual astronomical occurrence. As Christians we believe in the Christmas story, not as legend or myth, but as an actual historical occurrence which led to the Redemption of mankind by the Son of God – Jesus Christ. There are many elements of the Nativity of Christ that are expressed by the evangelists, and one of the most interesting is the illumination of Israel by a brilliant star at the time of … Continue reading The Christmas Star of Bethlehem – Merry Christmas, Everyone!

The Magnificat of Mary – A Beautiful Analysis By The Venerable Bede

In this morning’s selection from the Office of Readings in the Roman Breviary, the Venerable Bede, an English monk  presents a beautiful analysis of Mary’s joy-filled song – The Magnificat. Bede was born in the year 673 and died in 735. He lived in Northumbria, primarily in the two monasteries of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. These monasteries had accumulated a wonderful collection of Greek, Latin, and early Church manuscripts. Bede spent his life studying, writing, and dictating the results of his research and prayer. He is known primarily for his most famous tome which is The Ecclesiastsical History of the English … Continue reading The Magnificat of Mary – A Beautiful Analysis By The Venerable Bede

December 21, 2012 – The Archangel Gabriel’s Greeting to Zechariah

A very clear narrative greets us in the 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. His … Continue reading December 21, 2012 – The Archangel Gabriel’s Greeting to Zechariah

Gaudete Sunday In Light of the Tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut

Today we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means, “Rejoice!” – and we visualize this by the rose-colored vestments and candle in the Advent wreath. Yet, it is so difficult to rejoice in light of the unspeakable horror and evil that befell the 27 innocent children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, or the 22 children and an adult who were slashed by a man wielding a knife in a city in China, or the teenager arrested in Oklahoma for plotting to kill his fellow students and bomb his high school; and this all occurred on the morning of December 14th. Connecticut Governor … Continue reading Gaudete Sunday In Light of the Tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut

Our Blessed Mother’s Poverty of Spirit

Our Gospel today (Luke 21: 1-4) asks us to reflect on how we express our love for God. At first glance, the poor woman in the Gospel looks reckless. Yet, love, regardless of whether it is for God or another person, doesn’t calculate all the percentages. Many times, it just blissfully provides whatever the beloved needs, even to the point of true sacrifice on the part of the lover for the beloved. The lesson here is simple: love has greater value than material possessions. This  Gospel reminded me of Our Blessed Mother Mary’s actions in a few Gospel accounts which … Continue reading Our Blessed Mother’s Poverty of Spirit

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Thought you might enjoy my homily for this weekend’s solemnity of Christ the King: Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe; yet, our Gospel presents to us a scene that recalls Good Friday. For we again hear and visualize Pilate’s interrogation of Christ and His kingdom. In the Book of Revelation Jesus is given the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16); and today, at the heart of this Gospel, we are challenged to respond to that title. It is a challenge that … Continue reading Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Mary – The Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Wife of Joseph

The question may be asked “How is the word “spouse” used in reference to Mary and the Holy Spirit? We have all read the nativity accounts of St. Matthew and St. Luke and if you are a Roman Catholic you believe that Sacred Scripture is the foundation on which we build our theology; however, Sacred Tradition and the scholarship and teaching of the Magisterium of the Church are also very important. Sacred Tradition, scholarship, and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) act as the counterbalance for our understanding of God’s Truth in Scripture. These elements, together with Sacramental … Continue reading Mary – The Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Wife of Joseph

Saints Pontian and Hippolytus and Our Call to Duty

Today we celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Pontian, who was the lawfully elected successor pope to St. Callistus during the early 3rd century. St. Pontian was considered a criminal by the emperor Maximinius and banished to the silver mines in Sardinia – an exile which meant certain death. We also celebrate today a saint by the name of Hippolytus, who was a priest in the Church of Rome at this same moment in time. Saint Hippolytus is recognized because of his brilliance and profound scholarship. He is considered to be one of the finest theologians of the 3rd century, and is the source … Continue reading Saints Pontian and Hippolytus and Our Call to Duty

The Transfiguration of Christ

Today we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This feast has been celebrated since the 5th century.          It was inserted into the general calendar of the Church in 1457 by Pope Callistus III in order to celebrate the defeat of the advancing Moslem army in the Serbian city of Belgrade. Today’s feast was announced in Rome on August 6, 1457, and was placed in the calendar to occur forty days before the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, on September 14. Let’s reflect for a moment on today’s Gospel account (Mark 9: 2-10). Jesus knew … Continue reading The Transfiguration of Christ

St. Peter Chrysologus’ Appeal By Christ To Be Transformed

Today is the memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus. Peter was born in the late 4th century in northern Italy. In 424, after serving as a deacon and priest in Emilia, he became bishop of the Italian city of Ravenna. Little reliable information about St. Peter’s life survives, except that he successfully drove heresy and the remnants of Roman paganism from his diocese by doing two things: providing exceptional pastoral care to the people and by giving practical yet passionate sermons. St. Peter’s brief sermons were so inspiring that he was given the title “Chrysologus” which means “of golden speech.” He was declared a Doctor … Continue reading St. Peter Chrysologus’ Appeal By Christ To Be Transformed

A Sacred Image – The Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ

You are probably thinking, the poor old fellow has made a mistake in his spelling. Shouldn’t the title read “Son” of Justice? One evening a passage from Evening Prayer in the Divine Office caught my attention. It was the final prayer and it read: “Father, yours is the morning and yours is the evening. Let the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, shine for ever in our hearts and draw us to that light where you live in radiant glory.” That phrase provided this image’s title: Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. My intent was to have the image direct the prayerful observer … Continue reading A Sacred Image – The Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ

When People Or Governments Get In Our Face

Recently I received a rather funny email from a friend concerning a God loving Marine coming to terms with an atheist professor. It triggered, however, a serious reflection on how we, as Christians, are to confront those who “get in our face” about issues of spiritual beliefs, sacred art, religious freedom, and personal liberty. The passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 5: 38-42, on “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” gives us an insight into who Jesus is as God. The behaviors that He explains, and asks us to imitate, are actions that He would … Continue reading When People Or Governments Get In Our Face

Seeds of Faith and Art

In our Gospel today, from St. Mark Chapter 4: 26-34, we have two important parables concerning the reign of God: the first concerns the farmer’s sowing of seed and the second refers to the growth of the seed. When we examine the threads running through these parables we hear  Jesus explaining not only the functions that the farmer performs, but the nature of the seed that is sown, as well. This first parable is found only in Mark’s Gospel and explains that through the ministry of Jesus, God’s sovereign and all-powerful rule over mankind is made visible. This is similar … Continue reading Seeds of Faith and Art

St. Matthias and the Renewal of Easter Hope – The Lord Loves His Friends

Today is the feast day of St. Matthias. The Acts of the Apostles relate that Matthias was chosen by lot to replace the disciple who had betrayed Jesus in the garden. In chapter 18 of our Gospel, St. John speaks of Judas, who was in collusion with the Romans and the Jewish elders, and brought them to the place where Jesus was staying in the garden; the betrayal took place and the deaths occurred. In the period after Jesus’ death the Apostles were known as the Eleven. The Eleven. A title which causes us to pause, even today, two thousand years … Continue reading St. Matthias and the Renewal of Easter Hope – The Lord Loves His Friends

Shaped By The Potter’s Hands

All of us struggle with the reality that the experiences of our life may harden our hearts and deafen our ears to God’s truth. We may be similar to the  disciples in this past Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 24: 35-48), who were filled with anxiety – until – – the moment “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus shows them the nail wounds in His hands and feet. He explains to them that the Scriptures teach that we cannot have glory and honor without the willingness to suffer and die to our own sinful will and perceptions. He teaches them … Continue reading Shaped By The Potter’s Hands

Making Room In Your Heart for God, Prayer, and Creativity

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

The Joy Filled Christian – A Sermon on Survival in the Face of Tribulation

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

The Immaculate Conception – A Time To Reflect On The Meaning of Mary

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

Our Lady of the Rosary

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

St. Francis of Assisi, Simplicity, and Sacred Artists

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

Sacred Artists Must Be Empty Vessels

In this morning’s Gospel St. Luke is clear that Jesus is carefully listening to the argument that breaks out among His disciples as to who is the greatest among them. One translation has St. Luke saying, “He perceives the thoughts in their hearts.”  It would be prudent to say that we are all psychologically and theologically hardwired to look for approval. King David wrote of this in the Psalms when he said:  “You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with honor and glory.”  David recognized the fact that we are something special in the grand scheme … Continue reading Sacred Artists Must Be Empty Vessels

The Birth of Mary – The Pure Disciple Who Shows Us the Way

We cannot allow this day, September 8th, to slip by without celebrating the nativity of  our Blessed Mother. For as the Invitatory in the Roman Breviary says for today’s feast: “Come, let us celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary, let us worship her Son, Christ the Lord.” It is right, and proper, and good that we do this. Inspired by divine Wisdom, the Holy Church of Jesus Christ, has through the years been fractured, tempted, and bruised by the assaults of Satan. Yet, in this feast we remember that we are saved, that Satan, ultimately, has been defeated by … Continue reading The Birth of Mary – The Pure Disciple Who Shows Us the Way

The Eternal Now and the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the memorial of the Coronation of our Blessed Mother. Sacred icons and images have expressed the Queenship and Coronation of the Holy Theotokos – the Mother of God – for at least 1500 years. The icon The Virgin Salus Populi Romani, a 5th century icon, displayed in the Church of Saint Mary Major in Rome, and seen below, shows the Blessed Mother dressed in typical first century Middle Eastern garb as she holds her Son who gives a blessing. This icon reputed to be a copy of one that was painted by St. Luke the evangelist who tradition states … Continue reading The Eternal Now and the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Dormition – Assumption of Mary

Over the past two weeks, our Sunday Gospels have stressed the truth that to be a faithful disciple of Christ we must keep our focus – in good times and bad – on Jesus. On August 15th, the solemnity of the Assumption/Dormition of Mary, the Church again directs our gaze – for in focusing on Mary we see not only our Queen – but the one true sign – the Great Sign – who points the way to her Son. Her signature was that of a perfect disciple – for she possessed the confident competence and the courageous commitment – … Continue reading The Dormition – Assumption of Mary

A Reflection on St. Matthew 14: 22-33

Today’s Gospel reading cuts right to the heart of the matter – and asks the question: do we have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? St. Peter certainly came face-to-face with that question. As a commercial fisherman he knew how dangerous that storm was and that his boat and companions could easily perish in its waves. Then, suddenly, Jesus appears – walking on the water. The companions respond – “It’s a ghost!” Jesus calms them and says “Get a hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid!” Peter speaks up and says, “Lord, if it is really you, … Continue reading A Reflection on St. Matthew 14: 22-33