Baptism, Discipleship, and the Art of Lorenzo Lotto

In our Gospel last week we stood at the banks of the Jordan River and witnessed Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Today we hear John announce to all that the Spirit of God rests upon Jesus who is described as the Lamb of God and the Light of the World. John goes on to say that Jesus is not an angel, a prophet, nor a magician; rather, He is the incarnate Son of the Most High God. John reminds us that as the “Lamb of God” Jesus has a specific mission. His role is to teach and preach, and most importantly, it … Continue reading Baptism, Discipleship, and the Art of Lorenzo Lotto

“The Nativity” – Presented by the Jim and Jane Henson Family Puppets – Christmas Eve on CBS

Floridian Sean Keohane, a member of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, and a participant in the beautiful CBS/Paulist Production of “The Nativity” sent me the following information on an American television Christmas Eve Special that will be broadcast this Tuesday evening on CBS at 11:30 PM. You will want to set your DVR’s to record the show. I am sure that it will prove to be quite beautiful and a wonderful addition to your enjoyment of the holy Christmas season.  Sean is an artist and has been working with the famous Henson puppeters and the Jim Henson … Continue reading “The Nativity” – Presented by the Jim and Jane Henson Family Puppets – Christmas Eve on CBS

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

Thanksgiving Day – A Christian Homily

Ken Burns’ extraordinary film series on World War 2 was recently on PBS. In that series, he explored the lives of a variety of Americans  – average people – in and out of uniform, from small towns and big cities who quietly, competently, and generously responded when America, thrust into war, called for their help. As I listened to the elders describe war experiences their caring and competent words resonated through me. Words expressed their concern for their own personal survival but they also spoke of their apprehension for those around them. Nobel Prize winning author Elie Wiesel has written … Continue reading Thanksgiving Day – A Christian Homily

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

God’s Playfulness – Video and Verse

If you have a moment, click on this link, expand the very brief video to full screen, then sit back and enjoy the playfulness of God and the gift of His creative grace. After watching it, I composed a few verses, which I share with you. http://www.guideposts.org/video/mysterious-ways/the-miracle-of-flight?int_source=MysteriousWays&int_medium=RN&int_campaign=Starlingmurmurations Thanksgiving  Grace, the gift of God’s energy; the sharing of Divine life.  God plays with His creation – mutual joy crashes in on our senses, like the lovely waves of the starlings’ wings, to drench us with His beauty. Grace, God freely shares His friendship. We are graced.   We rejoice and give thanks. Copyright © 2011- 2013 Deacon … Continue reading God’s Playfulness – Video and Verse

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

Roger of Helmarshausen O.S.B. – Theophilus the Presbyter: Part 3 – The Prologues

Last February, in Parts 1 and 2 of this article, I shared with you some thoughts on an important figure in the history of Western European art: the Benedictine monk, Roger of Helmarshausen, also known by his pen name, Theophilus the Presbyter. Dom Roger was born in the late 11th century during a dramatic time in Western European history. In 1066 the Normans successfully invaded England and defeated the Saxons, which forever changed the history of England and the Continent. In 1084, St. Bruno founded the Carthusian Order in France, and in 1098 the foundation monastery of Citeaux saw the beginning … Continue reading Roger of Helmarshausen O.S.B. – Theophilus the Presbyter: Part 3 – The Prologues

Aidan Hart’s New Book on Sacred Iconography

The article below is reblogged from the always informative Orthodox Arts Journal. The article is the 9th in a series about sacred iconography that was written by Brother Aidan Hart, a British iconographer. Brother Hart has written extensively on all aspects of sacred iconography and has recently published a very comprehensive book on the subject called Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting. The editor at the Orthodox Arts Journal highly recommends it. Brother Hart’s articles are available at his website and he also offers sacred iconography workshops in Britain. This nine part article is well worth the effort of perusing … Continue reading Aidan Hart’s New Book on Sacred Iconography

St. Peter’s Affirmation of His Love for Christ Is A Model for Us

In our Scriptures for the 3rd Sunday of Easter we have the extraordinary contrast of St. Peter’s deeds in the first reading with that of his behavior in our Gospel. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see Peter’s defiance of the priests and the elders in the Temple. This defiance is in direct contrast to his cowardice two months earlier on the night of Jesus’ arrest; and it also differs from what we visualize in today’s Gospel. The events of this Gospel occur before our first reading and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. … Continue reading St. Peter’s Affirmation of His Love for Christ Is A Model for Us

Evgeny Baranov’s Miniature Icons and Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov Icon Carvings

My sincere thanks to Jonathan Pageau at the Orthodox Arts Journal,  http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/, for permission to repost his wonderful presentation of the sacred icon miniatures of Russian artist Evgeny Baranov and the spectacular icon wood carvings by Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov. We must take care when we paint/”write” large icons, yet, to complete an icon miniature or a wood carving, with such grace and spiritual truth, demands in my humble opinion, even more skill and patience! Enjoy, and be filled with astonishment! To see all of Baranov’s miniatures please visit their site:www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/miniature-icons-by-evgeny-baranov/ . To see the lovely icon wood carvings of the Asbuhanov’s please … Continue reading Evgeny Baranov’s Miniature Icons and Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov Icon Carvings

Easter 2013

“The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by His blood, alleluia.” “Our Redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, alleluia.” “Alleluia, the Lord is risen as He promised, alleluia.” God our Father, by raising Christ Your Son You conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us [through our Baptism into Your Life]. Grant this through our Lord Jesus … Continue reading Easter 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 Last Supper – Jesus as Servant, Christ as Sacrifice: An Evening Meditation

At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior entrusted to His Church the memorial of His death and resurrection. This memorial came to us through the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, a memorial that He intended would be celebrated forever by His Church in the magnificent prayer that is known as the Holy Mass. Let us adore Him, and say: Jesus, sanctify Your people, redeemed by Your blood. Lord, You humbled Yourself by being obedient to the Father’s will, even to accepting death, death on a cross. Please give all who faithfully serve You the gifts of: … Continue reading The Last Supper – Jesus as Servant, Christ as Sacrifice: An Evening Meditation

The Meaning of Lent: Repentance and Renewal

The following is a homily that was delivered at St. Francis of Assisi Church and St. Romuald Chapel in Wakefield, Rhode Island USA by Deacon Paul O. Iacono on the weekend of the 5th Sunday of Lent –  March 16/17, 2013. Last week’s Gospel related the story of the prodigal son; this week the prodigal daughter stands before us. These two people start with dissent against authority and its commands. Their actions led to life altering, almost near death experiences. They end their self-destructive journey with a conversion that speaks to all repentant sinners of the availability of the astonishing … Continue reading The Meaning of Lent: Repentance and Renewal

Beauty – “The Great Legacy” of Pope Benedict XVI

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

Theophilus, the Art of Iconography, and the Contemporary Sacred Artist – Part 2

Please take a moment to read the first part of this multi-part essay that I posted a few days ago. I am requesting that you do this in order for you to understand my perspective on creating contemporary sacred art within the Latin Rite. Creating sacred art for me is a service ministry. It is a ministry through which a sacred artist unites him or herself to God’s Redemptive efforts. If you are a Baptized Christian who has been educated in the faith, regardless of the Rite or the denomination, you know that the Christian faith requires you to cooperate … Continue reading Theophilus, the Art of Iconography, and the Contemporary Sacred Artist – Part 2

The Penitent Magdalene and the Way to True Conversion of Heart – A RePost Of Fr. Jason Smith’s Essay

As we begin the season of Lent I thought you would enjoy this article by Father Jason Smith. It contains a magnificent sacred image painted by George de La Tour (1593 – 1652). La Tour is one of my favorite artists; I especially enjoy his beautiful sacred image of St. Joseph teaching the child Jesus. During his lifetime La Tour was considered to be the painter for the French nobility. His son Etienne became his pupil and followed his father’s style so closely that it is very difficult for today’s art historians to determine the author of certain paintings within their collection. … Continue reading The Penitent Magdalene and the Way to True Conversion of Heart – A RePost Of Fr. Jason Smith’s Essay

Pope Benedict 16th – Evangelization Demands Courage and the Truth

No sooner had Pope Benedict announced his planned abdication of St. Peter’s chair when the attacks on him began to appear. I am posting on this story because the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is primarily concerned with evangelization of the Catholic faith through the prayerful study and creation of the sacred arts. Be that as it may, when a vicious and false attack occurs on the Church or a member of the clergy it is incumbent upon us as Catholics to respond with courage and the truth. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, based in … Continue reading Pope Benedict 16th – Evangelization Demands Courage and the Truth

Pope Benedict 16th and the Virtues of Humility and Patience

May the Peace of Christ be with you on this unique day in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Today we commemorate the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes which reminds us that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858 at Lourdes, France. Her message was clear and concise to the young Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” She requested Bernadette to tell the local clergy that a church should be built on the site of the apparition so that the sick and suffering might come to find comfort, and healing of both body and soul. A … Continue reading Pope Benedict 16th and the Virtues of Humility and Patience

Mary, The Holy Mother of God – The Sign of Our Unity

We celebrate on this the first day of the New Year the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Mary, by this very title, is the Holy Mother of the human nature of Jesus Christ. We receive insights on how the Church came to this title within the Holy Scriptures; for through a prayerful reading of them we come to an understanding of who this remarkable young woman was and what she means for us today. Three evangelists, Matthew, Luke, and John help us with this in their presentation of Mary as a woman who was clear minded, humble, … Continue reading Mary, The Holy Mother of God – The Sign of Our Unity

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

This morning’s selection from the Office of Readings in the Roman Breviary is written by an English monk named “the Venerable Bede.” It discusses 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 Lady of Guadalupe – An Icon of The Woman Who Will Crush The Serpent

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. This approved apparition occurred from December 9th through the 12th 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 as this Marian apparition, rebellion and protest against the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church was sweeping Germany, France, and England. While millions of people were leaving the … Continue reading Our Lady of Guadalupe – An Icon of The Woman Who Will Crush The Serpent

The Immaculate Conception of Mary – The Beauty of the New Eve

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

What Does Charles Dickens Have To Do With St. Francis Xavier?!

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?!

The Lumen Christi Award

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

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

We Are All Blind – We Are All Needy

There are three parts of this morning’s Gospel that we should highlight. The first is that the blind man is petitioning the Lord for His help. The lesson from this is that we should never feel guilty or selfish in our continuous requests for assistance from God. At times we become so overwhelmed with our cares, that we stop our appeals. This may occur out of frustration, a sense of futility, distraction, or weakness of faith. This sense of frustration directly leads to the meaning of our second highlight, which is the reaction and rebuke of the crowd. The crowd, … Continue reading We Are All Blind – We Are All Needy

Bishop Josaphat Kuncevych – A Saint of Forgiveness and Unity

In this morning’s Gospel from St. Luke (17: 1-6) we hear Jesus imploring His disciples to teach and practice the art of forgiveness toward those who hurt and abuse us, our families, and friends. Jesus is teaching that it is so important for people who want to be considered His disciples to follow His example and in no way offer a bad example or scandal to others. Jesus is emphasizing the power of faith to assist us in our efforts to be His disciples. People of faith possess the grace to forgive others. Our desire to model Jesus enables our … Continue reading Bishop Josaphat Kuncevych – A Saint of Forgiveness and Unity

St. Teresa of Avila – On Love

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

The Virtues of St. Francis of Assisi – A Model For Sacred Artists

In our celebration of the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi we must pause for a moment and examine the virtues that motivated and energized his 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 he was successful at eliminating everything from his life that did not enhance his understanding and love of Jesus. In other words, he kept to what was essential in life: “God, the state of our soul, judgment and eternal life.” He realized that “to … Continue reading The Virtues of St. Francis of Assisi – A Model For Sacred Artists

St. Therese of Lisieux and the Christian Way of Beauty

On October 1st we celebrate the memorial to Saint Thérèse of The Holy Face, also known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St Thérèse  – The Little Flower. She was born Therese Martin in France in 1873 and died from tuberculosis 24 years later in 1897. When she was fifteen she entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux and took the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She lived a life of simplicity, humility, and trust in God. “Therese never went on missions, never founded a religious order, and never performed great public works. Her only book, published after … Continue reading St. Therese of Lisieux and the Christian Way of Beauty

St. Robert Bellarmine, Galileo, and the Glory of God

Today, September 17th, the Church celebrates the memorial of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. St. Robert was born into a noble Italian family during the crisis filled 16th century – a time of great artistic and scientific achievements and a time of heart breaking dissension within the Catholic Church. In 1560, St. Robert entered the Society of Jesus, became a teacher, and was ordained ten years later. St. Robert’s Jesuit superiors sent him to the Catholic University in Louvain and there he developed a reputation for scholarship, disputation, and eloquence. When he returned to Rome in 1576, he became a professor of theology and … Continue reading St. Robert Bellarmine, Galileo, and the Glory of God

Our Lady of Sorrows – Seven Sorrows – Seven Graces

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

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Jesus

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

The Most Holy Name of Mary

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

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

The Nativity of Mary – Our Blessed Mother

On September 8th the Church celebrates the feast of the birthday of Mary, our Blessed Mother. Tradition tells us that Mary was the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. She was betrothed to and later married Joseph, a respected Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Little is known of Mary’s life other than the references to her in the Gospels. She attended the wedding feast at Cana, was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, and was with the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. St. Andrew of Crete puts this feast day, celebrated since the 5th century, in perspective for us … Continue reading The Nativity of Mary – Our Blessed Mother

St. Gregory the Great – Laborer in Christ’s Vineyard

Today is the feast day of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church. Gregory was born in the year 540 of a noble Roman family who believed in the value of education and public service. At the age of thirty he was appointed mayor of Rome; but after his father’s death, he decided to leave politics and become a Benedictine monk. Around the year 575, he transformed his family’s home into a monastery dedicated to the Apostle St. Andrew; he also established several monasteries on his father’s estates in Sicily. But in the year 579, he was ordained … Continue reading St. Gregory the Great – Laborer in Christ’s Vineyard

Saint Monica – Patron of Mothers

Today is the memorial of St. Monica, the extraordinarily faith-filled mother of St. Augustine. In the year 321, Monica was born in Algeria into a family that was devoutly Christian. As a child she was baptized a Christian and was raised to be a dutiful wife. She was given in marriage to a bad tempered, adulterous pagan official, by the name of Patricius. In examining the life of Saint Monica one is struck by the extent of the abuse she and other women endured throughout their marriage. Under the laws of the time Monica’s husband could physically and emotionally abuse … Continue reading Saint Monica – Patron of Mothers

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the memorial of the Queenship of Mary. Through the centuries, sacred icons and images have expressed the Queenship and Coronation of the Holy Theotokos – the Mother of God. 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 is reputed to be a copy of one that was painted by St. Luke the evangelist who tradition states knew and spoke to the Blessed … Continue reading The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of Mary

St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (8:30), sets that stage for this great solemnity: “Those God predestined He likewise called; those He called He also justified; and those He justified He in turn glorified.” Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption/Dormition of Mary. This is an ancient celebration documented as occurring as early as the 400’s, probably soon after the Council of Ephesus in 431 declared Mary the Theotokos: the Mother of God. In a homily on the solemnity of the Assumption, Pope John Paul II used  John 14:3 as a Scriptural foundation for understanding the dogma of the Assumption … Continue reading The Assumption of Mary

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

St. Clare – Our Holy Friend and Lover of God

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