Quick Takes: Feast of Saint James and Pilgrimage

Today is the feast day of Saint James the Great, the brother of Saint John the Evangelist, a fisherman before he was called to be an apostle of Christ.

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image- source: British Library: BL Stowe 12, f.279v

St James was the first of the apostles to be martyred and according to tradition at some point thereafter his body was brought to northern Spain.  His shrine, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, was a major pilgrimage destination throughout medieval times, third in significance to Rome and Jerusalem.  The Way of Saint James, or Camino de Santiago de Compostela, comprised pilgrimage routes that fanned all over Europe, all converging on Spain.  In one of those medieval displays of anachronistic artistic logic, St. James is often shown as a medieval pilgrim traveling to his own shrine, decked out with cockle shells, walking stick and drinking gourd, as in the 1320’s English manuscript illustration above.

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You can find some general background on the Universalis page about Saint James:.

In every country there are churches of St James and known, well-trodden pilgrim routes. In Paris, the Tour St Jacques marks the start of the route and the Rue St Jacques points straight towards Compostela. In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a vital witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally. - source

http://universalis.com/20140725/today.htm

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From EWTN, a documentary about the Way of Saint James:
Step into the shoes of some incredible pilgrims! Several young men relay their stories as they embark on an extraordinary pilgrimage along a historic route in Spain known as the Way of St. James. Journey for over 600 miles alongside them, and watch as “El Camino-The Way of Saint James” tests these pilgrims’ physical and spiritual limits when this documentary airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, Friday, July 25—exclusively on #EWTN! Also available through EWTN Religious Catalogue here: http://bit.ly/14jO9R2
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152297998417582

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To see a wonderful assortment of medieval images and text related to St. James and pilgrimage, click on A Clerk of Oxford’s post:

Since it’s the feast of St James, by medieval tradition the patron of pilgrims, here’s a miscellany of texts touching on pilgrimages, roads, and seeking. - source

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Father Steve Grunow of Word on Fire has written a blog post today which gives some background of the Way of Saint James and makes some observations about pilgrimage:

this is precisely the point- a pilgrimage is not a vacation. A pilgrimage is directed by a spiritual itinerary rather than an agenda of leisure. Pilgrimages are about the hard work of conversion, and this interior crucible is externalized in the demands of the journey. The grace offered and accepted in the course of the sacred way is not easy; it is meant to further the transformation of the pilgrim- the fulfillment of which is not simply to view the relics of marvel at the splendor of a shrine, but to become a saint oneself. It is through the journey that one learns that sanctity is a possibility, not just for those men and women of renown who have had great shrines raised in their memory, but for all who would risk following the Lord, trusting in his Provident care, and surrendering to him mastery over one’s life. In these respects, a pilgrimage is a concrete display of the intentionality with which all Christians are invited to live: to be called, commissioned and sent, to be a bold witness to the Gospel in word and in deed, and to remain faithful to one’s mission in all circumstances.

Do read the whole thing.  It’s very good and not long.

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In a characteristically-short 1 minute video reflection, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reminds us that we are all pilgrims in this life, journeying back to God:

Summer Reflections with Timothy Cardinal Dolan - Week of July 21 from itv on Vimeo.

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Here’s a short blog post about Santiago de Compostela on the blog Once I Was a Clever Boy.

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more:

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My husband and I were blessed to be able to travel the Way of Saint James by bicycle in 2011.  Here are some of my previous posts about Saint James and Santiago de Compostela:

- 2013 post for the Feast of Saint James

Quick Takes about Santiago de Compostela for the 2012 Feast of Saint James

Tuesday Tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

2011 Quick Takes about the Camino de Santiago

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For more quick takes from bloggers near and far, check out this week’s linkup, hosted by Carolyn of Svellerella.

Quick Takes: Sacred Heart

In honor of yesterday’s Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this week’s quick takes are links I’ve found this week along with photos I’ve taken over the years, all relating the Sacred Heart:

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18th century polychrome wood and fabric statue of the Sacred Heart in the Museum of Sacred Art in Sao Paulo Brazil

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"Popular Piety: The Sacred Heart of Jesus" on the Dominican blog Godzdogz gives a good short introduction to history and meaning of the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Our Lord is compassion and love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart stirs us to call upon Him who provides all things, and to dedicate ourselves to Him in loving humility. We have in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, therefore, a timeless devotion which we would do well to make our own. - source

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Chapel of the Sacred Heart in the church at the Santuário do Caraça Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Here’s an excerpt from a post by Ellyn von Huben on the Word on Fire blog:

As May was the month of Our Mother Mary, June is the month of the Sacred Heart of her beloved her son Jesus. It is often said that the mother is the heart of the home. Which is not an expression I would dispute. But on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we honor what should be the heart of hearts in every home. - source

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side altar with statue of the Sacred Heart, Old Mission of San Juan Bautista in San Jose, California.  The mission dates from 1797.

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The Monastery of the Visitation in Mobile, Alabama is a cloistered convent of nuns.  The building used to house a school; it is now used as a retreat center.

When you enter the Visitation monastery in Mobile, a mysterious framed image of the Sacred Heart from the 19th century is the very first thing you see.  It is titled “Archconfraternity of the Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart.”  The Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart originated in the 1860’s at a Visitation monastery in France, and in succeeding decades spread through the monasteries of that order worldwide.

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According to an article on the website Catholic Truths:

the Guard of Honor to the Sacred Heart—the result of an inspiration given to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart Bernaud, a nun of the Visitation monastery in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, on March 13, 1863—as a way of keeping the Heart of Christ company, of honoring and consoling It. … On June 7, 1862, the community in Bourg-en-Bresse was solemnly consecrated to the Sacred Heart. At the end of the year, most of the nuns in this community signed and act of abandonment to the Heart of Jesus. On the feast of Epiphany 1863, the Sacred Heart was chosen as “King of the Year.” A few weeks later, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart had a mental vision of a dial showing the hours of the day and night. After drawing a reproduction, she wrote the words “glory, love, reparation” around it. She then put the image of the Sacred Heart in the center of the dial. On March 13th, the third Friday of Lent, the Feast of the Five Wounds of Our Lord, she brought this first dial of the Guard of Honor to her superior, who blessed it and gladly agreed to have the names of all the sisters in the community inscribed on it.

Those who wish to join this work of reparation can do so by dedicationg an hour each day to the “guard of honor.” Their name will be inscribed on the dial in the place corresponding to the hour they have chosen. During this hour, without changing their activity, they will mentally unite themselves to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, offering to Jesus whatever they are doing—at school, at work, reading, preparing a meal, doing errands, traveling, studying, doing a favor, praying… They will strive to think a little lore about Jesus and to make at least an act of love, and preferably a small sacrifice. But no particular action is prescribed—only goodwill is required. Thus “members” across the world will succeed each other in “standing guard” at the foot of the Cross, in the company of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Mary Magdalene, and Saint John. Jesus will not be forgotten at any hour during the day. …

Soon, other monasteries were invited to join this spiritual movement, and the devotion spread by word of mouth to the faithful attracted to this spiritual program. At the monastery of Paray-le Monial, there was great surprise when they received the dial of the Guard of Honor, because the dial exactly like it already had been developed there. One year later, on March 9, 1864, the Guard of Honor was approved by Pope Pius IX and erected as a Confraternity, then raised to an Archconfraternity under Leo XIII on November 26, 1878. - source

 The Mobile monastery’s website gives an explanation of the Guard of Honor:

The Guard of Honor, the Hour of Presence, of the Sacred Heart is a little army rallied around the Eucharistic Throne of Jesus, where hour after hour, faithful sentinels replace one another in spirit, to offer to the Heart of Jesus a perpetual homage of glory, love and reparation.

The origin of the Guard of Honor may be traced back to the first watch on Calvary, when our Blessed Lady, St. John and Mary Magdalen offered to the transpierced Heart of Jesus the first homage of glory, love and reparation.

CONDITIONS OF MEMBERSHIP:  In order to become a member of the Guard of honor and to share in the Masses and in the indulgences granted to the Archconfraternity it is necessary:

1.  To be enrolled by the General Director of a Confraternity, canonically erected, or by a Zelator, regularly authorized to receive enrollments.

2.  To be inscribed on a Dial of the Archconfraternity.

3.  To make daily an hour of guard. Those who desire to be ranked amongst the Guards of Honor of the Sacred Heart must choose an hour during which, without changing their ordinary occupations, they place themselves each day, in spirit near the Tabernacle. - source

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This life-sized statue of the Sacred Heart is in the visiting parlor of the Monastery of the Visitation in Mobile, Alabama.  In this room guests visit with the cloistered nuns who are behind a wooden grill screen.

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for more quick takes visit this week’s roundup, hosted by Jen of Conversion Diary

Quick Takes: Corpus Christi

In honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi, which was observed yesterday, this week’s quick takes all relate to the feast day.  Most of them are links to Dominican sites, which is fitting, since Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and noted Dominican, was closely associated with Eucharistic devotion.

note: I kept finding cool Corpus Christi links, so there are more than 7 quick takes this week.

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The image above, of Saint Thomas Aquinas contemplating the Eucharist is a banner from St. Rose parish in Springfield, KY.  The photo was taken by Father Lawrence Lew OP, who notes:

The texts for the Office and Mass of this feast were composed and assembled by St Thomas Aquinas, who is sometimes called the ‘Eucharistic Doctor’ because of his sublime teaching on the mystery of the Eucharist. To hear St Thomas’ Sequence hymn, Lauda Sion Salvatorem being sung (be me!), visit this page. - source

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Brother Alan Piper, OP, offers a primer on Corpus Christi, "This Really is His Body," on the Dominicana blog:

The Eucharist contains “the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324). This great gift is offered to us as a sacrament, that is, as a sacred, saving sign. But unlike some other signs (for instance, a photo of a loved one), in the case of the Eucharist, the sign literally involves the real presence of Christ in his humanity and divinity. This is why Catholics genuflect and kneel in the presence of the Eucharist. And this is the reason for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which is characteristic of celebrations of Corpus Christi. After the consecration, there is no longer any bread or wine on the altar. Jesus is there under the appearances of bread and wine, offering himself for the life of the world. - source

Dominicana is a blog of the Dominican Studium of the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers.  Check out the other posts, it’s well worth your time.

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Sunday was the feast day the Dominican Contemplative nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, California.  Here is the invite to their celebration as posted on their blog.  

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more:

- The monastery of Corpus Christi is a strikingly beautiful place, which I featured here on the blog last spring.

- In addition to reading about the nuns on their blog, you can also follow them on facebook.

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On the English Dominican Studentate blog, Godzdogz, Luke Doherty OP posted a short piece on Corpus Christi, focusing particularly on the Eucharistic procession that is traditionally associated with the feast day:

Many Christians find themselves in horrific situations, and are often unable to express their faith, their solidarity with the Lord. Let us give thanks that God has given us the liberty to praise him in our streets. We pray for those who are persecuted for the Faith, particularly the Dominicans and other Christians who remain in Iraq, who are unable to process through the streets for fear of violence or intimidation. For what is inside that monstrance in today’s processions is a pledge and sign of our unity, a hope of the future when we shall all be one. - source

more:

- why is the blog called “Godzdogz”? click here to find out!

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And for a final Dominican link: on the blog of the Western Dominican Province, there is a Corpus Christi post by Father Michael Hurley OP about Eucharistic miracles and Corpus Christi:

As we celebrate this feast, let us rejoice in the gift of the Eucharist. We know that as incredible as Eucharistic miracles can be, it is not because of such miracles that we believe. Miracles are not the cause of our faith. To those who believe no miracle is necessary. Rather, such wonders confirm or witness to our belief. They rouse us and encourage us in living our faith. They quell doubts. So, like that monk of Lanciano, if the Eucharist is a difficult or doubtful part of your faith, you are not alone. Remember that most of Jesus’ disciples left Him precisely because He said, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Yet, Jesus does not call his friends to “take and understand, but “take and eat.” When we come to Mass free from serious impediment and sin, let us be prepared to be nourished by His life-giving body and blood. In the Eucharist, Jesus feeds us, so that we can feed others. We receive what we believe so we can be what we receive. - source

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Three years ago, my husband and I celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Here’s my post about that day.

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On the Word on Fire site Father Robert Barron has posted two videos about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,

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The site New Liturgical Movement has several posts for Corpus Christi, including one that collects historical images of Corpus Christi processions.

The featured images were gathered from an Italian blog called Scuola Ecclesia Mater which posted historical images of the Papal Corpus Christi procession, and also Corpus Christi processions in general.

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Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Thursday Corpus Christi Mass in Rome:

“Besides physical hunger, people have another hunger, one that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food,” the Pope said yesterday. “It is the hunger for life, hunger for love (and) hunger for eternity.” - source

To see a video of the Rome Eucharistic procession and Mass, click over to Salt and Light TV’s site.

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Over at the blog Supremacy and Survival, Stephanie Mann wrote a post that ties together Corpus Christ and the English Martyrs Thomas More and John Fisher whose feast day fell on Sunday:

Henry VIII, even though he separated himself and his country from the universal Catholic Church, continued to defend the Church’s teaching about the Holy Eucharist. Even as he sentenced Sts. John Fisher and St. Thomas More to death, commuting their sentences from being hung, drawn, and quartered to being beheaded, he had those who denied the Real Presence sentenced to being burned alive at the stake. What the holy martyrs knew, however, was that without the unity of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church the reality of the Holy Eucharist cannot hold. While Henry VIII held on to Christ’s teaching about the Eucharist as His body and blood, necessary for communion with Him in His Church, Henry’s Anglican Church would soon deny it (during the reign of Edward VI in Archbishop Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer). - source

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For more Quick Takes, visit the linkup, hosted this week by Kathryn at Team Whitaker.

Images of the Trinity

In honor of the Feast of the Trinity, today’s quick takes relate to depictions of the Trinity in Western art.  Last year’s Trinity Sunday post explained the way that the Eastern Churches show the Trinity in the guise of the Hospitality of Abraham.

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The blog A Clerk of Oxford has a marvelous Trinity post, featuring a medieval carol and several medieval images of the Trinity in English manuscripts.

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For some Italian examples, see Depictions of the Trinity, on the blog Idle Speculations

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In the course of my travels in Germany, I photographed several painted examples of the Trinity.  In all of them, God the Father holds the suffering or crucified Christ, with the dove of the Holy Spirit hovering nearby.

The first is a 13th example, from a panel painting in Berlin’s Gemaldegalerie:

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c.1250, Westphalian

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Lucas Cranach the Elder, detail of the Trinity from The Dying Man,  c1518

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Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Trinity worshiped by Mary and Saint Sebastian, c1518. Berlin, Gemaldegalerie

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Cathedral of St. Mary, Erfurt, Germany

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Master of the Darmstadt Passion, Trinity, c1440-1460. Berlin Gemaldegalerie

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Linking up with Quick Takes, hosted this week by Kathryn of the blog Team Whitaker

Quick Takes: various

It’s been a good long while since I’ve posted Quick Takes (or anything else) on the blog, and I’m sliding in right under the wire with the Monday night link-up deadline looming.  So with out further ado, here are some varied items of interest to me lately:

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Pope France has just concluded his 3 day whirlwind visit to the Holy Land.  There has been excellent coverage of the events and moments of this historic journey in many of the news outlets.  My favorite photo is this one:

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 - source

The obvious - and humorous - point of the photo is that Pope Francis lost his zucchetto in a gust of wind in Amman, Jordan, but what I love about the photo is the large representation of an icon of Christ in the background

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Catholic writer Simcha Fisher has begun a new series of monthly blog posts about Catholic artists.  This month’s post is an interview with artist Timothy Jones

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Fr. Lawrence Lew is a Dominican priest from Edinburgh who, in addition to being an assistant chaplain at three universities, also uses social media to preach the Gospel, tweeting and blogging his photographs of churches he’s visited and other beautiful locations he’s seen.  Kathryn Jean Lopez recently interviewed him:

LOPEZ: … How do you decide what you’re going to photograph and how do you know when you’re going to use what?…

Fr. Lew: … I’m always on the lookout for obscure saints and interesting Scriptural passages rendered in art. However, I don’t decide what I am going to shoot, as such. I photograph everything in a church, and am always keen to visit any church. Consequently, I currently have almost 120,000 photos on my catalogue that take up about 1.5 terabytes!

To help me decide which photos to post each day, I look at the liturgy of the day. Saints’ days are often the easiest, especially if I have an image of the saint. If not, I look at their writings and see if some image they use fits a photo I may have. Often I will post three photos a day. One will be the main image that is inspired by the liturgy or Scripture reading of the day, and then the others will be photos from the church or place where the main image is located. On days where I can find no photo to fit the liturgy, I will post other photos from my catalogue, typically of life and scenes from where I am currently based, which is Edinburgh.

LOPEZ: Is your social-media use of religious art another form of preaching?

FR. LEW: Yes. I am very conscious that the main reason I do this and am online is to preach the Gospel. As St. Paul says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” The human soul thirsts for truth as she does for beauty, and so I see the use of beautiful art and images as a vital part of preaching God who is Beauty and who is Truth. - source

More:

- read the entire interview here.

- follow Fr. Lew on Twitter and Tumblr (where you can read his daily homilies for the St. Albert’s Priory and Chaplaincy), and Flickr

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Catholic blogger Steve Nelson has started a new photography linkup called the Catholic Photo Challenge.  Twice a month Nelson will publish a theme and everyone is welcomed to post photographs related to the theme and add a link to the list on his blog.

The first theme, open until the end of May (just a few more days!) is:

For this first challenge, show us a photo that represents to you God’s presence in the natural world.

read more about the challenge on Steve’s blog Everything Esteban

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The town of Roha (now renamed Lalibela) in Ethiopia is home to twelve amazing and intricate little churches that were carved and chiseled out of solid rock.  The chapels were made at the behest of a ruler named Lalibela who wanted to create a holy pilgrimage site in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Moslims in the 12th century.

Read more:

"The Amazing Rock-Cut Churches of Lalibela"

- UNESCO World Heritage Site - Lalibela

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Do you know if there’s a chapel near you that offers Adoration of the Holy Eucharist?  Or maybe you’re traveling and would love to visit an Adoration chapel.  Find locations of nearby Adoration chapels by clicking here. 

More:

- If you cannot make it to an actual chapel, you can participate in Eucharistic adoration via this live feed.

- Catholic writer the Anchoress talks about adoration here.

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(via ferrebeekeeper)

We’ll end with a delightful look at some modern day gargoyles with unusual subjects:

The traditional gargoyle is a horrendous creature who leers out of medieval church walls. But people have continued making gargoyles right up into the modern day, bringing science fictional flourishes to these fantasy creations. - source

More:

"A menagerie of church gargoyles includes aliens and astronauts" on io9.com

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For more Quick Takes from dozens of other bloggers, check out this week’s links at Conversion Diary

Two Flemish masterpieces of the Annunciation

Today, March 25, is the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appeared unto Mary and she assented to God’s plan for her that she be the mother of the Savior.

This episode has been a major theme of artists for centuries.  Today we’ll consider two versions of the Annunciation, both Flemish, and painted within a few years of each other in the 15th century.  Both are in collections of major American museums.

The first Annunciation is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and was painted by Jan Van Eyck:

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Richard Cork wrote a column about this Van Eyck Annunciation in the Wall Street Journal a year ago:

…in a tall, narrow painting made about 1435, executed with mesmerizing precision and a wealth of meanings, [Jan van Eyck] removes the setting from the Virgin’s home. Instead, “The Annunciation” now occurs in a richly detailed church. By breaking away from the domestic context favored in so many other treatments of the subject, van Eyck creates an image packed with coded messages about the triumph of the new faith over the old scriptures.

…As for the Angel, van Eyck has transformed this divine messenger into a magnificent apparition….

…there is nothing remotely alarming about this radiant messenger, and the words that issue, in Latin, from his parted lips confirm his innate gentleness: “Hail, full of grace.” Although Mary seems hesitant, she responds by declaring: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Yet her words are not addressed simply to the Angel. Van Eyck paints them upside-down and back to front, so that God may read them more easily from his heavenly vantage.

As well as evoking a God of Love rather than a stern God of Judgment, this inexhaustible painting is packed with references to the old Scriptures and the victory of the new faith, Christianity. Why did van Eyck set his “Annunciation” in a church? As our eyes travel over this superbly convincing location, we realize that he is telling us a great deal about the larger meaning of the dramatic event occurring here. At the top, God stands isolated in a stained-glass window and personifies the ancient Jewish belief that He was alone. But gradually, as we move down the church, the old insistence on a solitary deity is replaced by the Christian Trinity. Symbolically ranged behind Mary’s face are three windows, announcing the triple identity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.

read the whole piece here

for more about the Richard Cork’s column, read a post from 2013 on the blog Supremacy and Survival

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The second painting of the Annunciation is the Merode Altarpiece, painted by Robert Campin around the year 1430, so roughly contemporary with the Van Eyck, above. 

Due to some technical difficulties with my blog today, I haven’t been able to load a photo of the altarpiece, but I will do so as soon as that issue is resolved.  In the meantime, you can see the Merode Altarpiece by clicking here.  If you find yourself in New York you can see the painting in person at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2006 Essay by Chet Raymo on the Merode Altarpiece:

This quietly unfolding drama is set in a typical 15th-century Flemish household. Beyond the open door of the courtyard and the window of Joseph’s shop we glimpse of the busy life of the town, Europe coming alive with commerce and technical innovation. What is most striking about the painting is the artist’s keen eye for “things,” for the mechanical accouterments of the rising middle class, and for the ways in which material goods are used to reinforce and symbolize the spiritual message.

The year is about 1430. It is the same time that Fra Angelico was painting another "Annunciation," one that is medieval in its simple, ethereal setting. It is also the time that Gutenburg was beginning his experiments with movable type. In the Merode Altarpiece we are poised on a cusp of history between the Middle Ages and modern times, between a world of spirit and a world of matter. The angel announces a message of otherworldliness and detachment. The “things” in the painting presage the scientific and technological revolution that is about to transform Western culture.

The master of the Merode Altarpiece is much taken by the textures of wood, metal, cloth, and stone. Here is the carefully crafted wrought iron of the candle holders and fire irons, the gleaming brass of the hanging wash basin, and the sharp-edged steel of Joseph’s tools. Here are things the well-to-do Flemish burgher would be proud to have in his household: the fine iron lock, the lacquered wood and metal towel rack, the fine porcelain vase, the splendid carved oak settle. Two lovingly protected books, one of them in Mary’s hands. The garments of the angel and the Virgin are rich and trimmed with gold.

On Joseph’s bench there is a clever mechanical mousetrap that gives the work its popular title, “The Madonna of the Mousetrap.” It is a “better” mousetrap, perhaps, that perennial symbol of progress and invention. With this one delightful image the artist has captured the spirit of his time: mechanical, inventive, forward-looking, preoccupied with matter and force. In the century that followed the painting of the Merode Altarpiece, science and technology consolidated a new alliance that led directly to the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, and to a new era of material well-being for a large part of humankind.

The altarpiece evokes a harmony of material and spiritual concerns. In this simple household scene, rendered on a cusp of history, the Flemish master has given us a vision of two worlds in perfect balance.

read the whole essay here:

Science Musings: Two Worlds in Perfect Balance

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More about the Feast of the Annunciation:

- my post from 2013 with many links

- my post from 2012 with images of the Annunciation in art

Tags: annunciation

Quick Takes: Mostly Lent

We are now coming to the end of the first full week in Lent.  At this point you might have an idea of how your chosen Lenten practices are working and might want to add a little more.  Or maybe you are looking for a renewed focus for Lent? 

To supplement my Lenten post from earlier in the month, this week’s takes will provide more links and resources for Lent.

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A couple of days ago I discovered the “Lenten Reflections With Cardinal Dolan” app from EWTN.  I downloaded the free app for my android phone at the Google Play Store and it might be available via iTunes as well.  The reflections are delivered with Cardinal Dolan’s usual verve and insight, and are each about one minute in length.

If the app isn’t your speed, you can also find each current day’s video reflection here.  Additionally, the same reflections are also available via dvd:

"A Lenten Journey with Timothy Cardinal Dolan" is available on DVD through the EWTN Religious Catalogue.

 This DVD includes all 47 segments for each day of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

 To get your copy, log on to our website, www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com 24 hours a day, 7days a week or call 1-800-854-6316.

For more Lenten apps, read Sarah Reinhard’s piece.
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more daily reflections:
Last week I mentioned the Lenten reflections offered by Father Robert Barron, which are delivered each day via email.  You can still sign up to receive the reflections.  I have found reading these reflections to be a fruitful Lenten practice.  Here is an example from Lent Day 6, "5 simple ways to deepen your prayer life during Lent":
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For anyone who wonders what to give up for Lent:

Does it come down to this every year? Waiting until the last minute to decide what to give up for Lent? Lucky for you, we understand that Lent tends to creep up on us and that it’s hard to figure out what’s the best thing (or things) to give up for Lent. Don’t let this Lenten season pass you by without deciding what to give up, what to add on, or what to pray about for the next 40 days.
You can follow @WhatToGiveUp on Twitter and receive a daily tweet suggesting a simple Lenten activity. 
read more on the What to Give Up website
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The Aggie Catholics blog, part of the website of St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University, is a wonderful resource year-round for all things Catholic, but especially in Lent.  Every year, Aggie Catholics puts out a mega-Lenten post filled with information and links.  You can find the huge Lent 2014 post here.

Also, you can check the site daily to find a short Lenten reflection.
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Three years ago I posted images from each of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary on 5 successive Fridays in Lent.  I find the images helpful when I’m meditating on the mysteries as I pray the rosary, and I hope they will help you also. Here are the links:

The Agony in the Garden

The Scourging at the Pillar

The Crowning with Thorns

The Carrying of the Cross

The Crucifixion

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6.

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                                                                                             - source

In case you were wondering, Catholics are free to eat alligator on Fridays in Lent.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has ruled that alligators are not meat, and can be consumed on days of abstinence from meat (Fridays in Lent and Ash Wednesday):

Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat… Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

read more:

Catholic Herald article

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7.

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- source

And finally, I can’t let the post go by without mentioning that yesterday, March 13, was the one-year anniversary of the announcement that the conclave had chosen Pope Francis.  There are tons of articles and links; here are few that caught my eye:

- The Vatican Internet office has put together a 70-page online picture book of the first year of Pope Francis. The cover is shown, above.

- In honor of the papal anniversary, the Jesuit Post created a “Playlist 4 Pontifex”

- If you want to send Pope Francis a message on his anniversary, you can do so via Facebook, Twitter or direct message using the hashtag #ThankYouFrancis. Messages with that hashtag are being posted on the site www.graziefrancesco.com and delivered to Pope Francis in person.

- On his anniversary, Pope Francis tweeted, simply, “Please pray for me.”

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Jen of Conversion Diary hosts Quick Takes Friday each week; head over to her post to check out the many, many Quick Takes posts by bloggers near and far.

Lenten Resources

The penitential season of Lent is coming up quickly; Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of 6+ weeks on praying, fasting and giving in preparation for Easter.  Here are some wonderful resources to help you have a more fruitful Lent.  I’ll add more as I come across them in the coming days.

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The website Busted Halo has put together a Lenten calendar called “Fast, Pray, Give”:

Traditionally, Lent was a time for personal conversion leading up to Easter, during which Christians practiced the spiritual disciplines of fasting, praying and almsgiving to strip away all that is unnecessary and become more mindful of their ultimate dependence on God. Let’s recapture the true meaning of Lent in ways that are actually relevant to your life. Each day throughout Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday, the calendar’s link for that day will become active, revealing a Daily Jolt for spiritual contemplation relating to Lent, and new and practical ideas for fasting, prayer and almsgiving. - source

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From the wonderful Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire: You can sign up for free for daily Lenten meditations.

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Also from Word on Fire, a Tre Ore CD set featuring Fr. Barron’s reflections on the Seven Last Words:

"The Three Hours’ Agony" or Tre Ore is a liturgical service held on Good Friday from noon until 3 o’clock to commemorate the Passion of Christ. Specifically, it refers to the three hours that Jesus hung on the Cross and includes a series of homilies on the seven last words spoken by Christ. Father Barron was invited by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to preside over the Tre Ore service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and the content of his presentation is featured here. - source

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Are you wondering what on earth to do for Lent?  Catholic All Year’s post “Outside the box: 66 things to give up or take up for Lent (in beginner, intermediate, and advanced)" can give you some ideas.

If those are not enough, the blog Held By His Pierced Hands suggests “100 things to do for Lent.”

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And if it’s books you seek this season, see Simcha Fisher’s Reading Suggestions for Lent.

Additionally, Amy Welborn posted a list of Lenten resources; books written by her and/or he husband Michael Dubriel.

updated to add:

Here’s a wonderful list of Lenten links, "Lent for the Perpetually Late (a collection of resources)" posted by the blog Surviving Our Blessings

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This post is the last of seven posts that I’ve written in seven days. To check out other bloggers who did the same, see the list here.

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Tags: lent

The Roman Station Churches

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- ceiling of the St Zenon chapel of St. Praxedes church, one of the Lenten station churches of Rome - source

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For 17 centuries Christians in Rome have observed the Lenten practice of visiting 40 different churches - the “Station Churches” - during Lent.

Here’s a Rome Reports video about the Station Churches:

The Pontifical North American College in Rome has a wonderful webpage with detailed information about the station churches

Audio guides to the Roman Station Churches can be downloaded through The PNAC Station Church Podcast.

In an interview with the Inside EWTN blog, Cardinal Dolan recounted that his most memorable Lenten practice was visiting the station churches:

“Those Lenten station churches for me provided an extraordinarily memorable Lent, fulfilling each of those three mandates we have from Jesus himself for a good Lent: prayer, sacrifice, and service to others.”

The Inside EWTN post continues:

Wow! Outside of moving to Rome for Lent, how can we make this idea relevant for those of us who live elsewhere? - source

The blog provides some concrete suggestions for how we might make a similar Lenten pilgrimage even if we can’t get to Rome in person to visit the station churches.  

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One recommendation is to read Roman Pilgrimage, George Weigel’s book on the Station Churches.  It gives information about each of the churches and provides a Lenten meditation for each one.

Weigel was interviewed by NPR about his book:

"Pilgrimage is something built into the human condition," says George Weigel, author of Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches. "There seems to be something hardwired into us, spiritually, that the idea of a journey from A to B becomes part of the rhythm of the spiritual life."

"I discovered the station church pilgrimage 20 years ago, but I did the whole thing for the first time in 2011. … It secures one’s understanding that Christianity is not a pious myth, a nice "narrative," to use the word of the day. It’s grounded in the experience of real people who lived real lives, often under very difficult circumstances, at a time we can know and in places that we can still touch." - source

Read

- the post in Inside EWTN

- NPR interview with George Weigel

- The Roman Station Liturgy, Pontifcal North American College

- Vatican Website, Lenten Stations

Find George Weigel’s Roman Pilgrimage book here

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I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Quick Takes: Modern Icons and Byzantine Mosaics

This week’s quick takes are all related to icons and Byzantine mosaics.

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1.

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The icon above is a beautiful modern icon of St. Michael, made by Jonathan Pageau in the opus sectile style (stone joined with stone)

Read more about this icon in an article Pageau wrote on the Orthodox Arts Journal site, including lots of process photos.

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2.

If you hang around the icon world, especially in America, invariably you’ll hear the phrase “to write an icon.”  This stems from the Russian language (mirroring the Greek) word for creating an icon, which is the same as writing.  Additionally, icons are thought to be a form of scripture in image form which further justifies the term.  The usage has always seemed a bit awkward to me, and I was interested to read a lively discussion of the terminology on the Orthodox Arts Journal.  Mary Lowell wrote a piece, "Is Write Wrong? A Discussion of Iconology Lingo":

For starters, being purposely odd serves no honest purpose. Saying that one “writes” an icon can be, and sometimes is, “affected jargon” – a kind of NEON Orthodox-speak of the cognoscenti who insist upon the verbiage as the only proper way to refer to the process and the product. As has been demonstrated, Russian use of the term “to write” is a part of their fine arts vocabulary and is used “to describe the process of making a painting – any painting, not just an icon”.

The English language has none of the imbedded linguistic references that my Russian respondents have noted which would indicate a preference for the use of “write” over “paint”. A surface filled with theologically didactic-delivery can be spoken of as being either painted or written without suffering diminishment. There are no canons requiring or restricting this verbiage in English derived from Russian via Greek and possibly Italian influences (see footnote 4). As one respondent said, “In English, I prefer ‘to paint icons’ and ‘write letters’.”

At the same time, those who police the verbiage to exclude the use of “write, writing, written” in English can be equally totalitarian to the point of correcting Russians. Used metaphorically the adopted terminology (albeit having a specific Russian linguistic basis) can be revelatory to English-speakers as to the particular purpose of icons, that is to articulate through images the textual content to which icons refer. In this sense an icon can be said to be “written” for the right reasons.

The greater risk of implementing derivative iconology-lingo is in harkening to Russian/Greek imports as an opportunity for Gnostic invention. Again, one of my respondents: “The use of the word ‘write’ has absolutely no extra or esoteric connotation. That’s simply the way things are spoken in Russian, and in our language and culture it all makes sense. But when transplanted into English, such direct translations may come across as having some additional hidden meaning.”

Read:

- the entire article by Mary Lowell

- and follow up thoughts by Andrew Gould.  

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3.

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- source

The Graphic Arts Collection of Princeton University’s Firestone Library has recently acquired a group of “paper icons,” woodcuts and engravings made in Poland for the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai:

…the graphic arts collection has acquired sixteen early religious woodcuts and engravings made for the Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai. The prints, which have been dated from 1688 to the early 18th century, are among the earliest known religious prints produced for circulation in the Orthodox East.

The woodcuts were printed mainly in Lwow, Poland, under the patronage and at the expense of the Greek trader Hatzikyriakis Vourliotis. This collection is unique in many ways, not the least of which is the very presence of such early prints from wood, a technique abandoned in the early 18th century and replaced by copper engraving.  As Deluga notes, “Few have survived to our day, and they are generally considered a rarity; many are known in a unique impression.” - source

read more on Princeton’s Graphic Arts site.

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4.

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The Redemptorist nuns in Dublin, describe themselves as:

an enclosed contemplative community of religious women. Our life is centered around the Liturgy of the Hours, the Eucharist, personal prayer and contemplation.

These nuns have a thriving practice of iconology. Click over to see photos of many individual icons, quite lovely.

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I came across a fascinating article about Thomas Whittemore, who restored the great Hagia Sophia in the 1930s. Here are the opening sentences:

On a summer night in June 1929, the 12th to be exact, the American Thomas Whittemore, English professor, Egyptian archaeologist, Russian relief worker and restorer of the mosque of Ayasofya, the former church of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, dined with eight friends at the city’s finest hotel. This was the Hotel Tokatlian, located on the Grande Rue de Péra, now İstiklâl Caddesi, next to the Cité de Péra, today the Çiçek Pasajı. - source

Read the entire article on Cornucopia, a site about Turkish culture.

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Earlier this week I wrote a post about the Heaven and Earth Byzantine exhibit that is finishing its run at the National Gallery in Washington DC and will be at the Getty in LA this summer.  To complement the exhibit The National Gallery produced a short film, Five Byzantine Churches:

This film presents still and original moving footage of historically significant Byzantine churches in Greece. Set to the music of Byzantine hymns and chants, the film evokes the original context of many works of art in the exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections at the National Gallery of Art, October 6, 2013–March 2, 2014. - source

You can view the film on the NGA site, here.

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7.

For the entire month of February, 2014 Lichfield Cathedral in England has hosted a display of the icons of Ian Knowles, Director of the Bethlehem Icon School.  In conjunction with the exhibit, Knowles has presented related lectures, a workshop, and has been artist in residence at the cathedral this week:

more:

- on the Lichfield Cathedral site, here and here.

- To see icons painted by Ian Knowles, visit his website:

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Tags: icons