A Journey

You may consider the mosaic of Christ speaking with two disciples on the journey to Emmaus to be a strange image to use today, Ash Wednesday, since it is found in Scripture as taking place after the Resurrection of Christ. The men pictured are on a practical, yet, spiritual journey. We see them prayerfully reflect about the extraordinary events that just occurred in Jerusalem. They ask, “What does it mean? Can it be true? Didn’t our hearts burn with happiness as He drew closer to us!” The days of Lent are a practical and spiritual journey for us, too. Like … Continue reading A Journey

Good Friday/Easter 2021: Christ’s Embrace

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

St. Francis of Assisi: A “Nice” Man or a Soldier of Christ?

What is the man-in-the-street’s perception of  St. Francis of Assisi? Is it one  that is only shaped by the art that portrays him as soft and sweet, as just the saint of ecology and cuddly animals? Is he a man to be taken seriously only because of his love for nature? A “nice” non-threatening man willing to compromise and make everyone laugh and feel good? Was St. Francis non-threatening? He never physically or psychologically threatened anyone. Yet, he did confront people with his profound belief and commitment to the Gospel message. He was as non-threatening as Jesus casting out demons, … Continue reading St. Francis of Assisi: A “Nice” Man or a Soldier of Christ?

Starlings and Some Stress Release

I posted the video below many years ago. It is one of the most spectacular and very short nature films that I have ever seen (see credits below). Hopefully, in this time of sickness, confusion, and anger it will help relieve some of the stress that we all experience. Children will enjoy it too; maybe they can discover the scientific reason how these extraordinary birds give glory to God through their flight.   http://www.guideposts.org/video/mysterious-ways/the-miracle-of-flight?int_source=MysteriousWays&int_medium=RN&int_campaign=Starlingmurmurations   “Let the earth bless the Lord, Praise and exalt Him above all forever.  Mountains and hills, bless the Lord.  Everything growing from the earth, bless the … Continue reading Starlings and Some Stress Release

Candlemas – The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

  Today, February 2nd, we celebrate the holy day of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem. St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Mary, as devout Jews, realized the injunction of Mosaic law that stated that the period of forty days from the time of an infant’s birth would be a time of purification for the mother of the child. After that period had passed the mother and father would then bring the infant to the Temple to be blessed and formally received into the Jewish faith (confer Leviticus 12 1 – 8; and Exodus 13). St. Luke also … Continue reading Candlemas – The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Vatican Creche – 2020 – A Contemptuous Insult

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

Suicide of a Nation

This list is not a typical statement for my blog owing to the fact that it normally concerns sacred art and catechesis; however, I felt I needed to compose and share my thoughts with you. The views below are solely mine and are not meant to imply they have the endorsement of my Diocese (Providence, RI, USA). The United States of America consists of fifty states that are ruled by a National (and an individual State) Constitution. My views certainly may be applied to other world governments. A state and nation, that is a representative democracy, is its people. A … Continue reading Suicide of a Nation

St. Lawrence – Deacon and Martyr

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

Holy War: The Battle for Our Souls and the Soul of the Church

What is our strategic plan in the Holy War to save our personal faith? The overall plan is simple: it is to win the war for our soul. Our tactics are paramount. For they must be in sync with the truth that God has given us Free Will (the ability to make decisions) and Reason (the ability to think through and logically make those decisions in the light of Scripture and Tradition). What are the tactics that support our efforts? The first is to realize that we are not powerless. Our God-given freedom allows us to make personal decisions for … Continue reading Holy War: The Battle for Our Souls and the Soul of the Church

Chinese Martyrs and the Beautiful Art of Ken Jan Woo

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

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

Holy Saturday/Easter 2020

Today, Holy Saturday, is observed by the Western and Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, and other denominations as the Anastasis (Greek, “resurrection”), or the Harrowing of Hell by Jesus Christ. In this harrowing, Christ’s purpose was to free the righteous people of the Old and New Testaments from their inability to enter Heaven. This occurred because of their death prior to the passion and death of Jesus. His Redemptive acts freed them from what Roman Catholics would call Purgatory and the Eastern Rites and some Protestant denominations would call Hades. There are over fifteen verses and references found in … Continue reading Holy Saturday/Easter 2020

Good Friday 2020

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

Virgin Mary: Trust and Obedience in the Lord

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

Do Pagans Go To Heaven or Hell?

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

Fatima Messages, Pagans in the Vatican, and the End Times

October 13, 2019 commemorates the last message in the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary by three Portuguese children. The children’s ages were six through nine, and they lived in the town of Fatima, Portugal. The apparitions occurred over a five month period which began on May 13th and ended on October 13, 1917. The Roman Catholic Church, after a period of study, formally declared in 1930 that these apparitions are worthy of belief by the faithful. It is wise to remember that many supposed apparitions have occurred over the centuries that have not been approved by Church authorities. In … Continue reading Fatima Messages, Pagans in the Vatican, and the End Times

The Assumption of Our Mother Mary – We Venerate Her Today

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

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

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

Sacred Icons and Sacred Images – the Nicene Debate Continues!

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

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

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

St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons

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

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

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

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32. The Prodigal: Which Brother Are We?

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?

The Holy Trinity – Communication Through Word and Art

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

God is a God of Compassion

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