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!
I once heard a friend repeat a quote by the author Katherine Mansfield: If you wish to live, you must first attend your own funeral.” How true. We begin to live life perceptively only when we project ourselves to the time of our own death, imagining how we’ve lived our life and wondering whether we’ve met the mark. Depending on our frame of mind, and perspective on life, we may not include the spiritual in our self-assessment, or, only give it a passing thought. That is why Mansfield’s phrase may be viewed as spiritually deficient. In today’s Gospel on the … Continue reading Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32. The Prodigal: Which Brother Are We?
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 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
“And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.” … Continue reading Roman Catholic Sacred Art: A Prayer to Accompany The First Theological Theme
Hello! Glad to be back after a series of learning experiences which took me away from the keyboard. I see from the website’s analytics that we are still popular on a worldwide level (thank you!). I also appreciate and thank all of the hundreds of subscribers that have stayed with this blog and continue to use and enjoy the material I’ve presented and the many tens of thousands that have popped in and out over the past seven years. Last week I made a church presentation (a power point lecture) on “Our Blessed Mother and Sacred Art Applied to Prayer.” For … Continue reading What is Art?
Today’s post is Part 4 in my series that began on May 16, 2018 concerning the recently concluded exhibition of extraordinary egg tempera paintings by the Dominican friar Beato Fra Angelico. The exhibition was held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts during the Spring of 2018 and was entitled Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth. Nathaniel Silver, Associate Curator of the Collection for this exhibition, includes in his book, Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth, articles by eleven scholars. Each paper is a quality contribution to scholarship. There is one article authored by Chiara Pidatella, entitled “The Provenance of … Continue reading Fra Angelico’s Four Reliquaries for the Church of Santa Maria Novella – Part 4 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition
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
I recently received a post from the always challenging and informative blog entitled Catholicism Pure and Simple. It features a short film by the Benedictine monk Abbot Christopher Jamison, O.S.B. In this film Fr. Jamison speaks about silence and how critical it is for our well being. He mentions that its cultivation is a necessary prerequisite for certain types of prayer. The good news is that we can begin the process of cultivating silence by setting aside at least five minutes but no more than thirty minutes during the day. During that time we participate in an ancient Christian technique … Continue reading The Sacred Artist’s Cultivation of Silence
Friend and fellow sacred artist David Clayton, in association with Leila Marie Lawler, has written a wonderful book entitled The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home. Sophia Institute Press published this book in the spring of 2014. In a beautiful writing style that is truly accessible to all readers, Clayton and Lawler explain the purpose of a home oratory, the role that prayer, chant, and sacred art can play in the life of an individual or family, and the significance of maintaining a faith filled prayer life with young and adolescent children. The word oratory derives … Continue reading The Little Oratory – A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home – A New Book by Clayton and Lawler
I am interrupting my series on Theophilus the Presbyter and the affect he had on the development Medieval art and technology with this post that just came in from the Catholic News Service/EWTN. The following article is very important and relevant to our understanding of the significant role that his Holiness Emeritus Benedict XVI had in moving the Church forward while appreciating and applying the beauty of our faith, in all of its component parts, to our holy liturgy, prayer, and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord. This understanding contributes to our appreciation of what it means to be a member … Continue reading Beauty – “The Great Legacy” of Pope Benedict XVI
On October 15th we celebrate the Memorial of the great Spanish saint and the first woman declared a “Doctor of the Church” – Teresa of Jesus, also known as Teresa of Avila. Saint Teresa grew up in the early 1500’s and at the age of 20, entered the Carmelite convent in Avila. She freely admitted that for twenty years she had a very difficult time with prayer and distractions. Compounding the problem was the lifestyle of her fellow nuns. In the 16th century, Spanish convents were very relaxed places since a festive, vain, and worldly attitude was prevalent. The idea of strict discipline, … Continue reading St. Teresa of Avila – On Love
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
The Church honors today, August 11th, the holy woman, consecrated virgin, founder and Abbess of the religious order known as the Poor Clares, and dear friend of St. Francis of Assisi. We know her by her Anglicized name: Clare. She was, however, born Chiara Offreduccio in Assisi, Italy on July 16, 1194. The Italian language has always been especially tuned to convey, through words and sounds, a delicacy and refinement of spirit. Her Italian name, Chiara, gives witness to this observation, since its English equivalent means – clear. The image above by Simone Martini (1283 – 1344) conveys this quiet asceticism … Continue reading St. Clare – Our Holy Friend and Lover of God
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
My favorite sacred icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the 6th century encaustic icon of Christ Pantocrator (Christ The Almighty One) from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula. This sacred image was a paradigm shift in the way early Christians viewed and portrayed Jesus Christ. This icon (shown below) is not the thin young Messiah of the Catacombs, or the Roman nobleman presentation of the first four centuries of Church art (for examples confer Pierre du Bourguet’s book on Early Christian Painting). The Sinai Christ Pantocrator is portrayed as a robust Semitic man, who knows exactly what He is about, what His … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: PART 3
A few issues have come up in discussing some basic terms with people. I would like to be clear on how I have come to understand these words because it may affect how we view our “ministry” to be painters of sacred icons and or sacred images. From my understanding, the word icon in English, Greek, and Latin, is the word for image. In our usage as sacred artists, it refers to a sacred image of Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, angels, or specific saints. The purpose of a sacred icon is that, as a piece of sacred art, it … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: Part One
This is the second part of a three part series with Jamie Medeiros, an artist whose parish is in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and Deacon Tom Lambert, a Permanent Deacon within the Diocese of Chicago, and whose parish is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Chicago, Illinois. Please be sure to read Part One of this two part interview in order to obtain a complete understanding of what the Lambert/Medeiros model of prayer and the creation of art is trying to accomplish. It is a model easily applicable to any Christian parish, within any Christian denomination, in the world. The Interview: … Continue reading ORO et CREO: I Pray – I Create – Part Two – A Wonderful Idea For Your Church
Soon after an article appeared in our Diocesan newspaper (The Rhode Island Catholic) in June 2011 on the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, I spoke on the phone with a talented artist by the name of Jamie Medeiros. We talked about the mission and goals of the Fra Angelico Institute and then she explained to me the mission of a group that she started at her parish in Tiverton, RI. Her group’s name is Oro et Creo (I Pray – I Create). I was fascinated by her description since it clearly was another example of the Holy Spirit’s … Continue reading ORO et CREO: “I Pray – I Create” – Part One
“Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on the earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone … Continue reading Holy Saturday Meditation: Something Strange Is Happening
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
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
In our last post, The Artist as Contemplative – Part 1: The Proper Approach, we discussed the need to have the proper approach to prayer. One of the assumptions that I have is that if you are reading these posts you are a creative person. You may be an actual working artist, or, you may be attracted to art in one of the various forms it takes and are considering taking the first step in its exploration. Even if you are just beginning to explore a specific art form it is important for you to consider yourself an artist. This is … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative: Part 2: A Simple Step Into Prayer By St. Teresa of Avila
All artists, by their very nature, contemplate. They are natural born contemplatives. In its dictionary definitions we see that the word contemplate means: 1) “to intently look at something, 2) to study carefully, and 3) to have in mind the possibility or a plan of action.” A person whose artistic skills are expressed through photography or the enhancement of physical beauty through fashion or cosmetics can certainly contemplate the meaning of beauty and maintain its traditions or break out and establish new ones. The same is true of a sculptor, painter, musician, needlework artist, poet, writer or any person working … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 1: The Proper Approach
Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation – or Triumph – of the Holy Cross. The early Catholic Church was intensely persecuted during the first 280 years of its life – so 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 … Continue reading The Triumph of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows by Jed Gibbons
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
Our First Post As our first post – on August 1, 2011 – I would like to explain that the mission of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is to promote the creation of Christian sacred art and unite the creative process to the artist’s personal prayer life. Over the coming months we will be discussing various topics within the sacred arts, the creation of sacred art, important sacred artists from the past and present, and the development of our personal prayer life in union with our personal creative efforts. The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts … Continue reading Welcome to the Fra Angelico Institute
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