Saturday, December 03, 2011

Was Jesus blond?

Who cares?

Cultural racists and the very politically correct amongst us seem to be preoccupied over what color eyes and what color hair Jesus and Mary had, arguing they had to be dark and Middle Eastern looking.  (Nothing wrong with Middle Eastern good looks BTW.)  Nevertheless, as I always remind people, fair hair, blue eyes, and a light complexion happens to be an ideal of beauty all ancient cultures attributed to the spiritual world - the highly evolved, divinized soul...  Seriously, even indigenous people in the Americas and elsewhere esteemed the blue eyed, fair haired anomaly amongst them, at least as being someone special.  Initially the Aztecs mistook the Spaniards as gods because they were white.  Artists especially have usually painted saints and angels as fair haired, blue eyed beauties - often because it is a spiritual metaphor for purity and perfection.  Fra Angelico provides the best example of that.  Nevertheless, contrary to Western prejudice regarding Semites, fair haired, blue eyed Jews are not at all uncommon.

As for Christ and his Blessed Mother looking like Osama bin Laden and Mata Hari - we don't really know, do we?  No, we don't - aside from the image on the shroud and other miraculous images, we have no firm evidence.  However, it is possible, probable, and quite likely the "Son of David" was fair haired and of ruddy complexion just like his ancestor King David.  Take it for what it is worth, but I found some good information on the subject which I will offer for your consideration here:

The physical anthropology of Hebrew peoples. 
Ancient Israelites were of mixed physical types that included blondes and red-heads alongside darker ones.

The Israelites of old were regarded by the Egyptians as people from the land of Amuru, meaning the land of the Amorites which the Israelites conquered. Another term applied to the general Syrian area was "Retenu". The name "Upper Retenu"1 corresponded to the geographical space encompassed by the Land of Israel, according to the Bible. People from the area known as "Amuru" or "Retenu" after ca.1400 BCE are presumably Israelites. They are depicted on Egyptian monuments as red, blonde, or black-haired with frequent blue eyes and red beards. Illustrations of individuals with this appearance are automatically assumed by Egyptologists to pertain to the Israelite or "Syrian" area. Another blonde blue-eyed people depicted on Egyptian monuments were the so-called "Libyans" and it has now been shown by Alessandra Nibbi (1989) that these were not dwellers of "Libya" but rather of the Nile Delta and of Hebrew origin. - Read more here.
Why do we care about this?

Some bloggers are just having fun, posting ethnic creche scenes to illustrate the diversity amongst Christians, and the sometimes strange, albeit amusing representations from particular folk art traditions.  It seems to be part of our holiday festivities and celebration.

Nevertheless, it can be a preoccupation of the adult, the well educated, the terribly sophisticated, the humorist and satirist, and very often the snob filled with the self-esteem of his exquisite taste.  On the other hand, little children, and those like them, are fascinated by the Christmas story and its various presentations, which enliven their imagination in faith, and inflame their hearts with love.  The Bambino depicted in the creche set attracts the child in all of us. 

Art:  Madonna and Child from the Neapolitan Creche at the Abbey of Regina Laudis.

Disclaimer:  This post has nothing to do with Crescat or LarryD and their posts - it was written in response to a comment I received on one of my paintings.

Devotion to the Holy Face

I'm not sure we know, or rather, understand, how great the need for reparation is.

Art: Source

Corrected image here.
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Friday, December 02, 2011

Big, big - huge - secret...

Do not tell anyone...

But Cathy of Alex is having a brunch tomorrow morning at her house. I know! Some people never even acknowledged their invitations, much less RSVP"d. I know! How rude is right. I'm not naming any names but two of them are priests from Wisconsin - oh so chic and too good to go! No - I never said it was Fr. Z and Nazareth Priest - who has been missing in plain sight for months and months. Yeah - don't hold your breaths for donations fellas.

No - I'd never show up either, but I have an excuse - people do not like me - but at least I had the gallantry to RSVP - and Cathy was kind enough to invite me - a poor outcast bastard.

I'm here for ya Cath!

The Blessed Sacrament

This past Wednesday, while preparing to repose the Blessed Sacrament, I was considering once again the Scripture, "the Son of Man will be handed over into the hands of sinful men."  It isn't a compulsive or obligatory prayer for me - it seems to come to me spontaneously.  I was alone in the church - no one comes in late afternoon, which is why the duty of reposition falls to me.  For a moment I considered how this loneliness could perhaps be a sharing in that loneliness which mystics sometimes claim our Lord complains of in their private revelations with him...  but I dismissed that notion as sentimentality.

Rather my thoughts went to Christ upon the cross, praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  It was with this consciousness that I reposed the Blessed Sacrament.  It was awesome and made for a very solemn and prolonged genuflection.

This morning I thought, "I shall never be able to do enough penance for all the sins I've committed."

Then I came across the following prayer from the corrected Mass translation which consoled me very much:
Prayer Over The Offerings
Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble prayers and offerings,
and, since we have no merits to plead our cause,
come, we pray, to our rescue
with the protection of your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Praying with an accent.

I can't remember where I saw it but someone from the US wrote that he acquired a British accent while living in the UK.  So, I asked in a post, "Is that pretentious or affected?  Is it phony?"  I was being silly however, repeating what I read just for fun and then asking the question - just because it doesn't matter at all, does it.  Like I always say, Madonna and Gwyneth and Wallace Simpson adopted a British-type accent as well...  So, everyone is supposed to laugh now, instead of insisting that Mrs. Simpson really did speak that way.

Anyway - I lived in Europe for a very short time and when I returned, I adopted a sort of accent - a sing-song manner of speaking - sort of like the Missionaries of Charity sound - as if English wasn't their first language.  I used it whenever I spoke about something serious - especially with strangers, or whenever I did the readings at Mass.  It was a way to show everyone how 'continental' and far traveled I had become - and if they were religious, just how contemplative I was.  I met people in Italy like that - and I also knew a rather contemplative priest, and a few nuns who did exactly the same thing.  In my case, it was pretentious and affected, but it wasn't phony.  I only became phony when I started trying to be real.

Anyway - and this is true too - I sometimes pray the rosary with a British accent - only when I'm driving and while praying along with a tape, after many, many decades of course.  I think I sound quite a bit like those who've adopted a British accent.

No, I think it's fine to do that.  After all, we usually speak a bit differently, or use a different tone in our responses at Mass.  Although sometimes I will use a Southern - rather a Hillbilly accent then.  I try not to though - I just usually catch myself doing it.  I think it has to do with my newly discovered ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) - or is it Gilles de la Tourette syndrome?  (I can speak a little French too.)

I'm not sure what this is about.

Archbishop Nichols in favor of 'civil unions'?

Mixed messages...

Archbishop Vincent Nichols seems to have come out in favor of civil unions, while supporting Church teaching against homosexual marriage.  (Really?)
We would want to emphasise that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision… As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life. The Church holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and undertakings that people give… - Source

In a post titled, Archbishop Backs Equality, Fr. Blake pointed out, "He did go on to say, 'equality and commitment do not amount to marriage'".

My first impression is that the Archbishop's reasoning sounds suspiciously derived from the pastoral notion that a monogamous relationship between two consenting gay adults is better than living a promiscuous life with multiple partners.  It is a very permissive proposition... 

That said, even if the Church were to approve civil unions - which a few other bishops have also stated that they would not oppose - it will not be enough for gay activists.  Eventually - like concurrently - they will seek some sort of blessing, some sort of commitment ceremony, probably claiming Boswell's medieval studies which pretend to site precedence, and so on.  Inevitably, 'equality' as Nichols esteems it, will sooner or later require recognition of same sex marriage - and acceptance of same-sex adoption.  'Equality' has become a doublespeak term - with or without the 'marriage' qualifier.

In my opinion, there is no compromise to be had that will not end in contradicting Catholic Church teaching.

BTW - Non-married couples, straight or gay have for years arranged matters legally in order to take care of their friend-companion-partner after one of them dies.  Marriage or civil union contracts are not necessary.

More fallout here.

What's wrong?

I'm not really reading other blogs and I only skim the news portals.

I am no longer on Facebook and I'm not on Twitter.

Somehow I got on Linkedin but never updated - although I get your updates.

I get emails and come across posts titled 'Action Alert".

"So what am I supposed to do?"

But I don't care and I'm not sad.

Maybe it's the arsenic in the apple juice?

Maybe it's detachment.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Depressing Christmas stories - fail.

I can't think of any.  I think I've told them all in the past.  I'm strangely happy and actually looking forward to Christmas now.  (Thanks for praying for me whoever you are.)

Nothing to blog about today however.

I do have a post in mind about how Christmas really is just for kids - and those like them.  It's about spiritual childhood.  Maybe later.

Photo:  My interview with Father.  What?

What if?

H/T to Paula.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing on TV

Dot-Marie Jones

Will Sasso

So I actually watched an episode of Glee to see what it was all about.  While watching I was sure the woman playing the coach was a man.  In fact I thought it was Will Sasso - but I Googled and found out that it is really an actress named Dot-Marie Jones.

Two more separated-at-birth, gender-crossed actors...

Sada Thompson

Eric Stonestreet

The Cardinal thinks so too.

Cardinal Burke concedes persecution could be looming for the Church in the United States.
"It is a war," he stated, describing the battle lines between "a culture of secularization which is quite strong in our nation," and "the Christian culture which has marked the life of the United States strongly during the first 200 years of its history."

He says it is "critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law," especially in defense of life and the family.

"If Christians do not stand strong, give a strong witness and insist on what is right and good for us both as and individuals and society," he warned, "this secularization will in fact predominate and it will destroy us." 
The cardinal also thinks persecution may be looming for the U.S. Church.

"Yes, I think we’re well on the way to it," he said, pointing to areas of social outreach - such as adoption and foster care - where the Church has had to withdraw rather than compromise its principles.

This trend could reach a point where the Church, "even by announcing her own teaching," is accused of "engaging in illegal activity, for instance, in its teaching on human sexuality."

Asked if he could envision U.S. Catholics ever being arrested for preaching their faith, he replied: "I can see it happening, yes." - CNA
At times I can roll my eyes over the idea that we Catholics in the United States are actually persecuted - especially in the light of the bloodied persecutions happening in Islamic countries - such as the assault upon Egyptian Copts and the attempts to eradicate Iraqi Christianity.  Nevertheless, in reality there really is open hostility towards Catholic-Christian teaching and the promotion of traditional morality as it applies to family issues from marriage to reproduction.  Everyone knows it, but we like to ignore it or tell ourselves to buck up and take it - or placidly turn the other cheek and let the progressive activists impose their secularist dogmas upon 'us'.   For many years there has been a propaganda campaign of social intimidation and marginalization against Catholic teaching in particular - like I said, everyone knows that.   It's a form of persecution and polarization in an effort to silence the Church - no doubt about it.

And I think it is accelerating.  The Cardinal thinks so too.
Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we be able to guard our life from the frights and terrors into which God the Lord has let the world sink to teach us, so that we may awaken from sleep, as Paul says, and see that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, "All right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us be ready for the day." We must do this with a decision that comes out of these very horrors we have experienced and all that is connected with them; and because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty. - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thanks to Daniel Cassidy for the links to LifestiteNews and the CNA interview.

Christmas is coming...

"Christmas is coming, Terry.  Christmas is coming!"

Years ago one of my bosses said that to me during a remodel project I was in charge of - something had to be done yesterday for him and apparently I didn't get it done.  I looked at him rather puzzled after he said that to me - his nose about an inch away from my own, and since it was the middle of August and we weren't working on Christmas, I asked quizzically and completely sincerely, "It is?"  Which pissed him off even more since he thought I was being defiant and sarcastic.  Story of my life.

Anyway - this year Christmas doesn't interest me very much - the trappings of Christmas, I should say.  This year Christmas and Christmas activities and decor and even traditions have no effect upon me.  By this time - heck, by Halloween, I am usually busy making or painting something, or decorations are going up and I'm getting all excited.  Not interested. 

So anyway - what I think I'll do is post more sad things, more depressing thoughts this year for the holidays.  That can be kind of 'fun' too - don't you think?  Like the story I just told of how my VP got so angry with me and didn't find me adorable because I was so naive and sincere and obviously a wonderful man.

So yeah - I'll try to post at least one really sad Christmas story every day this Advent season - that way maybe we will be able to discover the true meaning of Christmas and have a little more empathy for those people who are more depressed than we are.  Anyway - I won't publish any pious story or Christmas tale just to fill in for each day.  Everything will be real and therefore miserably sad.

The new translation...

The new translation is making a big impact upon me, enriching my daily prayer.  For instance, the opening prayer at Mass is once again called the Collect, and it seems to me to be much better, more understandable and spiritual.  This morning I am reminded of Fr.Z's long-standing article formerly in the Wanderer, as well as his blog, WDTPRS - What Does The Prayer Really Say?  It appears we are all going to know what it really says from now on, and it looks to me as if Fr. Zuhlsdorf's work is done in that particular area.

I believe thanks and congratulations are in order for Fr. Z - he has dedicated most of his priesthood to restoring the liturgical prayers, and his efforts seem to be finally paying off.

Congratulations and many thanks Fr. Zuhlsdorf.  Sincere prayers and best wishes.  God reward you. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Everything being derivative.

While working on my last painting I was wondering just how many references to the work of Hieronymus Bosch's art there must be in other artist's work - or how often other artists may have been inspired by a particular figure or composition based upon something Bosch painted, and set about to reinterpret it.  It seems to me I have recognized the influence of Bosch, and or Bruegel, in several works of other artists I admire.  In researching and studying works of a few contemporary artists, I've recognized identical images apparently lifted from one artist by another to be included in one of his own compositions.  For instance, I've recognized some of Magritte's work repeated in Michael Sowa's work.  Was it intentional?  My intuition tells me yes.  However, a painter may say it was unintended and any similarity accidental and quite unconscious.  To me that is like people telling you they never watch TV but know exactly what all the shows are about.  I may be wrong of course.

Anyway - I came across an interesting illustration of what I 'think' I'm talking about with the two photos in this post.  Perhaps it was unconscious and simply coincidence, but the two artists seem to compliment one another in their compositions... in other words, was John Nava inspired by Norman Rockwell?  I suppose I could find out if I inquired more deeply into his work, but I'd rather just speculate instead.

Sometimes painters and artists think they know something - be it intuitively or through education - and sometimes they think that other people's work actually 'speaks' to them...  Although that is perhaps an exaggeration, rather, a painting can be 'read' - and there is a way to read a painting - the influences of art history studies aside.  Copying or painting from an archetype, such as an icon, can teach a painter that.

Not long ago, a commenter on an earlier post said something about medieval piety and how the artists of those times - as well as inferring the ordinary people who sometimes populate their paintings - could not be as debased and disturbed as they say the modern abstract impressionist of the 20th -21st centuries are.  Yet that is simply fallacious - for people were as corrupt and debased then as they are now.  I think we delude ourselves believing otherwise.  The Low Country artists pretty much prove that - as do the medieval penitents.

I may be wrong of course.

Top - Norman Rockwell
Bottom - Los Angeles Cathedral Tapestry, John Nava 

The Advent Saint

Alfred Delp, S.J.

Fr. Delp was a German priest and an important figure in the Resistance movement against Nazism.  Born in 1907 in Mannheim, Delp was ordained to the priesthood thirty years later in 1937.  In 1944 he was arrested and accused of conspiring against the Nazi regime.  Fr. Delp was tortured and  imprisoned, and finally executed in February of 1945.  While in prison Fr. Delp made his final vows as a Jesuit on December 8, 1944.  His sermons and meditations on Advent are striking and quite relevant to our own times of unrest and uncertainty.  
The One Who Cries in the Wilderness.  
Woe to an age when the voices of those who cry in the wilderness have fallen silent, outshouted by the noise of the day or outlawed or swallowed up in the intoxication of progress, or growing smothered and fainter for fear and cowardice. The devastation will soon be so terrifying and universal that the word "wilderness" will again strike our hearts and minds. I think we know that.

But still there are no crying voices to raise their plaint and accusation. Not for an hour can life dispense with these John-the-Baptist characters, these original individuals, struck by the lightning of mission and vocation. Their heart goes before them, and that is why their eye is so clear-sighted, their judgment so incorruptible. They do not cry for the sake of crying or for the sake of the voice. Or because they begrudge earth's pleasant hours, exiled as they themselves are from the small warm companionships of the foreground. Theirs is the great comfort known only to those who have paced out the inmost and furthermost boundaries of existence.

They cry for blessing and salvation. They summon us to our last chance, while already they feel the ground quaking and the rafters creaking and see the firmest of mountains tottering inwardly and see the very stars in heaven hanging in peril. They summon us to the opportunity of warding off, by the greater power of a converted heart, the shifting desert that will pounce upon us and bury us.

O Lord, today we know once more, and in quite practical terms, what it means to clear away the rubble and make paths smooth again. We will have to know it and do it for years to come. Let the crying voices ring out, pointing out the wilderness and overcoming the devastation from within. May the Advent figure of John, the relentless envoy and prophet in God's name, be no stranger in our wilderness of ruins. For how shall we hear unless someone cries out above the tumult and destruction and delusion? - Alfred Delp

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Praise for the new translation coming in....

"I am getting some good feedback on the new translation."  Here are a few updates:
"After the congregation stumbled through the Mass last night , myself included, with a few... Then the “and also with your spirit” responses - it became obvious that I wasn't wearing the right shoes - which explained why I stumbled y'know ."  Commented Katrina Fernandez.  "And no - I had not been drinking - yet."  She insisted defiantly.  What?

"I have to say, I almost miss the puppets!" Complained Larry D. who recently withdrew his support for altar girls - despite the fact that as a kid, he only agreed to become a server just to meet chicks - that was after girls were allowed to serve Mass.

"Yeah, well, they closed my parish, so I can't go to Mass anymore."  Lamented Cathy of Alexandria.  "Huh?"  BTW - Cath is having a party at her house next weekend and I guess she'll have some sort of 'celebration' for the new Missal at that time.  Sort of a carry-over from her St. Joan days - "Oh yeah, we're the body of Christ so we can celebrate anywheres."  I have to hope that is not an accurate quote.

"Why'd they screw it up in the first place?  Now I have to pay for new Missals - again.  Someone is making money!"  Bellowed one parish administrator.

"I can see the altar from my house." - Mrs. Stihldrunque raved.

"Who even talks like that anymore?"  Complained one of the older ushers - and his listener replied - "Exactly as it should be - we must elevate our hearts and our thoughts and our words when we speak to God."

"I couldn't understand a thing - it's all in Latin at my church - we don't need an English translation."  Quipped one woman in a blue denim jumper. 

"Well it was amusing," twittered Doris Upson.  "You know, seeing how those people were so confused, obliged to use proper English and all - they're all so accustomed to slang and tweets now days!"

"I very much appreciate the new translation," thus sayeth Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads, adding, "what took so long?"

What conspiracy theorists are claiming:
"What we're dealing with here is a power play on the part of certain people in Rome who wanted to make changes in order, I think, to bring under greater control people in the English-speaking world." - The Rev. Michael Ryan, Rector of St. James Cathedral, Seattle.
That is such a dumb thing to say.

Mass Chat: On the new translation.

Same ugly vestments, same music, same orientation...

But the 'new' translation is just fine - I'm so amazed people made such a big deal about it.  That said - the II Eucharistic prayer came off rather awkward - I'm wondering if Father even bothered to rehearse?  Again - not a big deal.  I think a little more needs to be done however.  Definitely a new hymnal, better vestments, and maybe go back to the original altar and direction for Mass - ad orientem. 

One thing my pastor has accomplished is to arrange for the altar servers to be well trained - male or female - they all serve at Mass like angels.  I normally do not pay attention to what the servers are doing, but I recently noticed how well coordinated they have become. 

Let's see... there was something else I wanted to mention.

Oh yeah.

I get the distinct impression that the Extraordinary Form of Mass is increasingly being promoted as being a more Catholic, a more 'holy' Mass.  I've also noted that certain online priests are projecting their personal preferences as the standard, and following the old calendar rather than the new calendar. 

The Medal of the Immaculate Conception

November 27 marks the feast of the Miraculous Medal, otherwise known as the medal of the Immaculate Conception.  Though the feast honors the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the memorial commemorates the anniversary of the apparition of the Mother of God to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830, wherein Our Lady showed the nun the medal she wished to be made for those to wear seeking her aid and protection.  The Blessed Virgin spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.”  Countless miracles followed, hence the name, the Miraculous Medal.  The story here.
"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
In 12 days the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.