One Minute Reflection – 19 July – Thursday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”…Matthew 11:28-30
REFLECTION – “Jesus asks us to go to Him, for He is true Wisdom, to Him who is “gentle and lowly in heart”. He offers us “his yoke”, the way of the wisdom of the Gospel which is neither a doctrine to be learned, nor an ethical system but rather a Person to follow: He Himself, the Only Begotten Son, in perfect communion with the Father.”…Pope Benedict, XVI, General Audience, 7 December 2011
PRAYER – “Holy God, our Father, we turn to You in confidence as children and pray, give us meekness of heart, make us “poor in spirit” that we may recognise that we are not self-sufficient, that we are unable to build our lives on our own but need You, we need to encounter You, to listen to You, to speak to You. Help us to understand that we need Your gift, Your wisdom, which is Jesus Himself, in order to do the Your will in our lives and thus to find rest in the hardships of our journey.” Blessed Jozef Puchala, Holy Martyr for Christ, Pray for us, amen. (Adapted from the same homily above.)
NOTE: The Image used for the Reflection above is called “Christ the Consolator” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890). You would be mistaken in believing that this great Artist was a Mormon but of course, he was a Danish Artist of a Christian leaning (Mormons are NOT Christians and were begun by Joseph Smith in the 1820s in New York), studied and was inspired and drawn to Catholicism (but did not convert) in Rome and was vastly influenced by Rembrandt (a protestant) in Holland. The Mormons have used his artworks endlessly – in their temples, advertising and media, he would be highly indignant I believe, without a doubt!
Thought for the Day – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)
One of the greatest Christian artists is Giovanni Fiesole, better known to the world as Blessed Fra Angelico, the “Angelic Brother.” Fra Angelico is a patron saint for Catholic artists. His style of painting beautifully bridges the iconographic and gothic traditions. Giorgio Vasari, author of “Lives of the Artists,” referred to Angelico as a “rare and perfect talent.”
Very little of his writings have survived the centuries but one phrase still resonates, more than 400 years after his death. “He who does Christ’s work, must stay with Christ always.”
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Galatians said something similar. “I live; yet now, it is not I, but truly Christ, who lives in me. And though I live now in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and who delivered himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
What does it mean when Paul tells us it is no longer he who lives but Christ who lives in him? What does it mean to stay with Christ always?
In Paul’s time it was believed that the only way to have a right relationship with God was to follow the law, the Ten Commandments and all the thousands of rules that derive from them. But Paul rejected this idea and preached that the only road to justification, to having that right relationship with God, is through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” and stay out of trouble. If that is all we do then we are trying to achieve heaven by our own merits. God wants more from us than that. God invites us into a relationship of friends and family, a relationship of love. This type of relationship is a living, dynamic one. To love Christ and to want to be near Him is to be crucified with Him.
It means standing up for the Truth even when it is unpopular. It means finding time to pray. It means that we stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus. And it means that when we fail, we humbly confess our sins as we would apologise to a friend we have hurt, so that that relationship can be restored. It means that we must reflect Christ to the whole world, so that when people look at us they do not see us, they see Christ.
For the Artist this means we must deeply consider our vocation, St John Paul described it as a vocation of beauty. Do we work to bring beauty to the world? Do we use our gifts to lift peoples hearts and minds to God? Does our work reflect His splendour and bring hope and joy to our brothers and sisters? This does not mean that every artist must confine themselves to religious art but it does mean that we may be called to sacrifice lucrative opportunities. or turn away from work that does not suit our vocation. But in the end that is what it means to live for Christ and not for ourselves. (Deacon Lawrence Klimecki – Speaker, Writer, Artist)
One Minute Reflection – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)
Well done you are an industrious and reliable servant…… Come share your master’s joy…………Matthew 25:21
REFLECTION – “In God’s house we must try to accept whatever job he gives us – cook, kitchen boy, waiter, stable boy or baker. For we know that our reward depends not on the job itself but on the faithfulness with which we serve God.”… Pope John Paul I
“Fra Angelico’s painting was the fruit of the great harmony between a holy life and the creative power with which he had been endowed.”… St Pope John Paul II
PRAYER – O God, in Your providence You inspired blessed Fra Angelico to portray the beauty and sweetness of heaven. By his prayers and the example of his virtues, grant that we may manifest this splendour to our brothers and sisters. Blessed Angelico, pray for us! Through Christ our Lord, amen.
Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí made in 1951.
It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen. Although it is a depiction of the Crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ. Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.
It is known by it’s Title because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar, today’s saint and a Doctor of the Church, St Jon of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity and the circle represents Unity. Below is the drawing by St John of the Cross.
On the bottom of his studies for the painting, Dalí explained its inspiration: “In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom.’ This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!”
In order to create the figure of Christ, Dalí had Hollywood stuntman Russell Saunders suspended from an overhead gantry, so he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle and also envisage the pull of gravity on the human body. The depicted body of water is the bay of Port Lligat, Dalí’s residence at the time of the painting.
Celebrating St Vitus’ Memorial and the Cathedral in his honour in Prague, Czech Republic, the country for which he is a Patron. The Image below is the Chapel of St Vitus within the Cathedral.
To many people, St. Vitus Cathedral is Prague Castle. While the Prague Castle complex houses many buildings, St. Vitus is the one that dominates the skyline wherever you are in city. St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála svatého Víta) is a Gothic masterpiece and the spiritual symbol of the Czech state.
The cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV. Construction began in 1344 on the site of an earlier 10th century rotunda. Its original builders, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, constructed the chancel with a ring of chapels – St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Golden Portal and the lower section of the main steeple. However, it took almost six centuries to complete, with the final phase of construction in the period 1873-1929. Below is St Wenceslas Chapel which is decorated with frescoes and semi-precious stones. A door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the Crown Chamber, in which the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are stored.
As well as being the largest and most important Basilica in Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral has also overseen the coronation of Czech kings and queens. In the chancel of the cathedral, in front of the high altar, is the royal mausoleum. Below this, in the crypt, there are the royal tombs. Czech kings and queens and patron saints of the country are interred here.
The Great South Tower of the Cathedral was founded in the late 14th century and reconstructed in the 16th and 18th centuries. The tower holds the largest bell in the Czech Republic, called Zikmund, which dates from the 16th century. Visitors can climb the Great South Tower, see the bell partway up and enjoy spectacular views over the city from the top. The tower has 287 narrow, winding steps and is more than 90 metres high.
The Defenders of the Eucharist
by Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish 1577-1640
SN 214 Oil on Canvas c1625
Peter Paul Rubens, along with the Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, was one of the greatest artists of the 17th century. His canvases can be said to define the scope and style of high baroque painting through their energy, earthy humanity and inventiveness. A devoutly religious man, a man of learning and a connoisseur of art and antiquities, he was also a man of the world who succeeded not only as an artist but as a respected diplomat in the service of Isabella and Albrecht of the Spanish Netherlands.
Travels to Venice where he studied Titian, Veronese & Tintoretto freed his artistic talent from rigid classicism. While he did incorporate copies of classical statues in his paintings he always avoided the appearance and coldness of stone. To the contrary, his nudes, for which he became famous, always depicted an ample female form of vitality and good health as well as of sensuousness. His mastery of color along with his knowledge of antiquity is seen particularly in his mythological paintings.
As court painter and confidant to the Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, Rubens recognized the role art was to play in the Counter Reformation. His genius found expression in his designs for the Triumph of the Eucharist tapestries which he and his assistants completed between 1625 and 1628.
Knighted by two monarchs and master of a successful workshop, Rubens became rich and famous in his own time. Having executed over 3,000 paintings, woodcuts and engravings of all types, he died the most respected artist of his time in 1640.
This painting shows seven saints, all of whom were considered to be defenders of the doctrine of Transubstantiation an integral tenet of the Catholic Church. From the right the figures represent –
(1) St Jerome, (Feast Day 3 September) noted for his translation of the bible from Hebrew into Latin;
(2) St Norbert, (Feast Day 6 June) a German archbishop and saint, who preached against dissenters who attacked the Christian sacraments and official clergy;
(3) St Thomas Aquinas, (Feast Day 28 January) a medieval theologian of the Dominican order, whose writings became the basis for much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church;
(4) St Clare, (Feast Day 11 August) the founder of the Poor Clares, was a Franciscan heroine who repulsed the Saracens at Assisi by confronting them holding the Host in her hands;
(5) Gregory the Great, (Feast Day 3 September) who established, as Pope, the form of the Roman liturgy;
(6) St Ambrose, (Feast Day 7 December) renowned as both theologian and statesman of the Church, who in an age of controversy, was instrumental in crushing Arianism, a doctrine concerning the relationship of God the Father to Christ which was considered heresy and in direct opposition to orthodox teaching about the Trinity; and
(7) St Augustine, (Feast Day 28 August) perhaps the Church’s most celebrated and influential theologian.
Seven Saints, including the four Latin Doctors of the Church, progress with great dignity from right to left, their heads seen in different views in a fashion similar to the heads of the Four Evangelists. The Dove of the Holy Ghost hovers protectively over the saints in the very center of the composition emitting golden light that illuminates the procession. Above the dove, a putti holds two trumpets to herald the message of the Church Fathers.
Leading the procession are Sts. Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, all wearing elaborate gold copes. The first two are crowned with bishop’s mitres, while the third wears the papal tiara. In the center of the procession, St. Clare carries a monstrance and looks directly out at the viewer. Rubens has shown his patroness, the Archduchess Isabella as St. Clare garbed in the black and white habit of the Discalced Carmalites, clothes she wore at the Convent of the Discalzas Reales in Madrid when she was a girl and later as a widow after her husband the Archduke Albert had died in 1621.
St. Thomas Aquinas follows, a large book under his arm wearing a gold chain from which is hung a blazing sun. Behind Aquinas is a monk in a white habit who is St. Norbert. Last in line is St. Jerome the fourth Doctor of the Church dressed in red as a cardinal, intensely reading from a large book. In the centre of the bottom of the composition, below the apron of the “stage” is a burning lamp (the lamp of truth), open books and writing supplies of ink pots and quill pens, all in reference to the writings of the Church Fathers.
All seven saints were known as defenders of the Eucharist, particularly the Four Doctors of the Church who developed the doctrine of transubstantiation and defended it against heretics.
The cycle of eleven paintings of The Triumph of the Eucharist was commissioned by the Archduchess Isabella who was the daughter of Philip II of Spain and the Governor of the Spanish Netherlands. It was planned as a gift for the convent of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid in 1625 where it still hangs today. This Franciscan Order of Poor Clares was one with which Isabella was closely associated.
The series is a mixture of allegory and religious evangelisation intended to promote the worship of the Eucharist, the bread and wine consecrated as the body and blood of Christ and distributed at communion which had been strengthened recently by the Council of Trent and which constituted an important element in Counter Reformation Catholicism.
This was a time of great concern on the part of the Catholic church as it attempted to correct not only the abuses of the clergy but also to reaffirm its tenets / dogma in the face.
The Christian hero is not the slayer of dragons or the knight who wields the sword.
The Christian hero is the saint, although saints like St Joan of Arc, could and did wield the sword too.
St George, whose Memorial it is today, got lost in legends and folklore but he was a real soldier who gave his life in witness to Christ. He was a Martyr for Christ – the ultimate act of heroism. If only we remembered him correctly and with honour, for this martyrdom for the One who saved us!
Martyrdom of Saint George, c.1564 – Paolo Veronese
St George pray for us and we pray that your memory may be restored!