Friday, April 29, 2011

Fellow Church Ladies

This just in from St Francis de Sales Seminary in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee:

Today, just like in Biblical times, faithful women play an important role in the vitality and future of our Catholic Church. The de Chantal Society is a newly founded group for women who are passionate about supporting the Church, raising their children and grandchildren in the faith, and supporting vocations. The group is named after St Jane Frances de Chantal, a 16th century woman who was inspired by St Francis de Sales to start the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

If you are local, you can check out their meeting schedule here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm not even remotely interested in the Royal Wedding, but I could be convinced to make parts of this. (The doggies are really cute.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Entombment - Caravaggio

Of all Caravaggio's paintings, The Entombment is probably the most monumental. A strictly symmetrical group is built up from the slab of stone that juts diagonally out of the background.

The painting is from the altar of the Chiesa Nuova in Rome, which is dedicated to the Pietà. The embalming of the corpse and the entombment are actually secondary to the Mourning of Mary which is the focal point of the lamentation.

Nothing distinguished Caravaggio's history paintings more strongly from the art of the Renaissance than his refusal to portray the human individual as sublime, beautiful and heroic. His figures are bowed, bent, cowering, reclining or stooped. The self confident and the statuesque have been replaced by humility and subjection.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Ecce Homo - Caravaggio

The figure of Pilate is an assumed self-portrait of Caravaggio.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Crowning With Thorns - Caravaggio

This picture creates a different kind of drama than the Crowning with Thorns in Vienna [...]. The vertical format allows us to concentrate on Christ, who occupies the center of the picture. The figure of a man, naked from the waist up, sitting on a chair in front of a barrier in the foreground, holding the rope with which Christ's hands are bound, leads the eye towards him. A second man in a brilliant red robe is almost gently gripping the victim by his upper body and upper left arm. A third assistant is pressing the crown down so hard on to Christ's head with his stick that a drop of blood is running down his temple.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Crowning with Thorns - Caravaggio

The front boundary of the picture is articulated by a wooden barrier, on which the captain is leaning, in order to observe the action but take no part in it. He watches the executioner's half-naked assistants abuse Christ at his behest. The powerful figure of the suffering victim, sitting almost naked on a bench, seems larger than he is. Christ's shoulderline continues the shallow diagonal which began with the white feather of the captain's hat, on the left.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Holy Week Morning Offering

Good morning, good God!

It has begun, Lord: the week we call Holy...

I've read that theologians argue
over whether or not time, or some unit of time,
can actually be holy...

I'll leave that to the scholars this morning
and simply wonder about my growing in holiness
in the week ahead...

Just shy of four days left in Lent, Lord,
and those are my last four chances in 2011
to live as a Lenten Christian...

Four days to be more faithful to prayer,
morning or night or in between,
or whenever you and I can sit down
and just have a chat, one-on-one,
just the two of us, Lord...

Four days to deny myself
some taste or sip, some pleasure or toy,
and experience the emptiness denial creates,
the hunger it leaves to be fed
and the chance to wonder
how I might fill and feed the void...

Flagellation - Caravaggio

This major painting, which (like the Seven Works of Mercy) dates from Caravaggio's first visit to Naples, is disquieting in its own special way. In May 1607 he was paid by Tommaso de' Franchis for an altarpiece to hang in the family chapel in San Domenico, where it stayed till 1972.

The atmosphere is so dense that the pillar before which Christ is being whipped can hardly be made out, but the handling of paint is so fluent that the cruel action taking place has its own powerful rhythm. The viewer is caught up in the horror.

The near-naked Christ is being twisted into position by the torturer on the right while the torturer on the left tears at his hair. At the bottom left a third tormentor stoops to prepare his scourge.

The composition is derived from a fresco by Sebastiano del Piombo, but its restricted palette of dismal colours gives it a grim force that few earlier paintings had equaled.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Denial of Saint Peter - Caravaggio

After the artist's many attempts to intensify the dynamics of a scene from the right, this composition offers a dramatic sequence of figures from the left. On a very dark night with deep shadows and without any indication of artificial light, a soldier wearing a helmet and armor appears from the left. He is turning his face so far round to the maid that it gets swallowed up by the darkness. The maid herself, her face obscured by the soldier's shadow, is peering at the soldier from close quarters. She is pointing her left hand at St Peter, who is holding both hands against his chest in a gestion of confirmation. For the apostle, Caravaggio has chosen a model who would be ideal for an old satyr or for Socrates. The artist usually introduced heads like this for executioners.

The Web Gallery of Art suggests you listen to this piece by Palestrina while contemplating this moving work.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Taking of Christ - Caravaggio

The main figures are pushed to the left, so that the right-hand half of the picture is left to the soldiers, whose suits of armor absorb what little light there is, and whose faces are the most part hidden. At the right of the picture, an unhelmeted head emerges from the surrounding darkness. This is often regarded as the artist's self-portrait. Caravaggio has also concerned himself here with the act of seeing as one of a painter's task. The three men on the right are there mainly to intensify the visual core of the painting, underscored by the lantern. On the left, the tactile aspect is not forgotten. Judas vigorously embraces his master, whilst a heavily mailed arm reaches above him towards Christ's throat. Christ, however, crosses his hands, which he holds out well in front of him, whilst St John flees shrieking into the deep night. His red cloak is torn from his shoulder. As it flaps open it binds the faces of Christ and Judas together - a deliberate touch on the artist's part.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Christ in the Garden - Caravaggio

The painting was destroyed in the Second World War, it is known to us today through extant black and white photographs. This was a wonderful composition that caught the instant in which Christ awakes the sleeping apostles. The construction of the scene descends toward the lower right corner. St Peter in particular is shown in a classical position (which has been called Carracci-like), with the containment that characterizes this moment in the artist's career.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Our faith is only in Jesus"

A few good words for Holy Week from Archbishop Dolan:
Pray for us bishops and priests, please. We’re sorry when we hurt you. We must try harder to conform our lives to Jesus. But don’t ever let our sins drive you away.

A blessed Holy Week!

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Image credit: Crucifixion, Tintoretto

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meatless Meals: Lasagna Primavera

The veggies, pre-assembly. Yum.

8 ounces Lasagna Noodles, cooked and drained
2 T Olive Oil
1 whole medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 whole bell pepper, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini, cut up
1 carrot, grated or thinly sliced
1 stem of broccoli, cut into very small pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
½ cup white wine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
1 (15oz) tub ricoota
1 egg
½ cup grated parmesan
1 pound mozzerella

Saute onions and garlic in oil for a minute. Add diced pepper, carrots, and broccoli and saute for another minute or so. Add squash and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Pour in wine, add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir. Pour in tomatoes and liquid. Stir to combine and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley.

In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Spread a little of the vegetable/tomato sauce in a lasagna pan. Layer noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, mozzarella, and about 1/3 of the vegetables. Repeat twice more, ending with vegetables. Sprinkle with Parmesan or mozzarella .

Bake at 350 degrees, covered in foil, for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until browning and bubbly. Allow to set up before serving.

Holy Week Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Peg who won our Holy Week Giveaway!

She writes:
Confession before Easter is a way for me to fine tune my focus on the last bit of lent. I also look forward to the Triduum.
Peg, send me an email at TheSophomore(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address so I can drop it in the mail right away.

How can women rule the world?

To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Giving Passover it's definitive meaning

Passover begins at sundown today and that reminds me of one of our family's fun memories involving a celebration of a Christianized version of Passover. All the proper foods were prepared and we each had a simplified script which gave an idea of what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper. We set a place for Elijah and hid some matzah and typically invited another family to celebrate with us.
I'd be in way over my head to give you advice about how to truly celebrate a Seder meal, but I am certain that knowing what Jesus did on His last days and remembering it in some way will make the event more meaningful to your family.

If you'd like a serious celebration, start with this impressive resource. If you'd like something simpler or for shorter attention spans, go to the library tomorrow and check out a picture book or two on the topic. You'll find there are many choices available. If you'd like to plan your dinner to support the fun, you may find some helpful suggestions here.

No matter how you mark the occasion, be sure to end by putting it in context of the New Covenant in Christ. The Catechism tells us that "By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning." If you attend Mass on Holy Thursday (and you know the Church Ladies recommend you do), the readings will be about God establishing Passover as described in detail in the book of Exodus, and Christ's last celebration of it from the book of John. It's hard to find a better example of Saint Augustine's declaration that "the New Testament likes hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New."

Image Credit: Francisco de Zurbaran, Agnus Dei

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Image credit: Crucifixion, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
The Web Gallery of Art also suggests you listen to this piece by Bach as you're appreciating this painting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Image Credit: The Crucifixion, Grunewald

The picture shows the central panel of the first view of the Isenheim Altarpiece.

Art for Grünewald did not consist in the search for the hidden laws of beauty - for him it could have only one aim, the aim of all religious art in the Middle Ages - that of providing a sermon in pictures, of proclaiming the sacred truths as taught by the Church. The central panel of the Isenheim altarpiece shows that he sacrificed all other considerations to this one overriding aim. Of beauty, as the Italian artists saw it, there is none in the stark and cruel picture of the crucified Saviour. Like a preacher at Passiontide, Grünewald left nothing undone to bring home to us the horrors of this scene of suffering: Christ's dying body is distorted by the torture of the cross; the thorns of the scourges stick in the festering wounds which cover the whole figure. The dark red blood forms a glaring contrast to the sickly green of the flesh. By His features and the impressive gesture of His hands, the Man of Sorrows speaks to us of the meaning of His Calvary.

His suffering is reflected in the traditional group of Mary, in the garb of a widow, fainting in the arms of St John the Evangelist, to whose care the Lord has commended her, and in the smaller figure of St Mary Magdalene with her vessel of ointments, wringing her hands in sorrow. On the other side of the Cross, there stands the powerful figure of St John the Baptist with the ancient symbol of the lamb carrying the cross and pouring out its blood into the chalice of the Holy Communion. With a stern and commanding gesture he points towards the Saviour, and over him are written the words that he speaks (according to the gospel of St John iii. 30): 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'

There is little doubt that the artist wanted the beholder of the altar to meditate on these words, which he emphasized so strongly by the pointing hand of St John the Baptist. Perhaps he even wanted us to see how Christ must grow and we diminish. For in this picture, in which reality seems to be depicted in all its unmitigated horror, there is one unreal and fantastic trait: the figures differ greatly in size. We need only compare the hands of St Mary Magdalene under the Cross with those of Christ to become fully aware of the astonishing difference in their dimensions. It is clear that in these matters Grünewald rejected the rules of modern art as it had developed since the Renaissance, and that he deliberately returned to the principles of medieval and primitive painters, who varied the size of their figures according to their importance in the picture. Just as he had sacrificed the pleasing kind of beauty for the sake of the spiritual lesson of the altar, he also disregarded the new demand for correct proportions, since this helped him to express the mystic truth of the words of St John.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Image Credit: Crucifixion Diptych (right panel) Rogier van der Weyden

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning With Thorns

Image and text credit: Crowning With Thorns, Tiziano
This is a brutal scene, in which Christ's tormentors twist the crown onto his head with their canes, but the violence is relieved and Christ's suffering exalted by the beauty of the colours, which especially in the blue and green to the right are colder than usual in deference to Titian's Roman sources. In Christ's foot extended on the steps, however, Titian pulls out all the Venetian stops and one can sense the blood flowing through the veins under the flesh. The pattern of the canes slices through the massed figures like the strokes of a knife, forming a Trinitarian triangle to the right of Christ's head. An inimitable Titian touch is the cane lying unused on the foremost step, still, shadowless and deadly, like a snake.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for April, 2011

General Intention: That the Church may offer new generations, through the believable proclamation of the Gospel, ever-new reasons of life and hope.

Missionary Intention: That missionaries, with the proclamation of the Gospel and their witness of life, may bring Christ to all those who do not yet know Him.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.