Saturday, May 09, 2015

El Greco was a painter - not a writer.

Modena Triptych - El Greco - 1568 

The origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete.

I've been reading about Domenikos Theotokopoulos, one of my favorite painters.  His work is so modern it feels almost contemporary.  We know him as El Greco, the great Spanish painter who wasn't Spanish at all.  He began as an icon painter on Crete - in fact we can see the influence of the Byzantine in many of his later works.  I mention him because I just read something about a person who 'writes' icons.

That is such an ostentatious, pompous claim to apply the affectation to oneself, "I write icons."  I know all the theory defending such a claim - that is fine - though it seems to me to be a relatively modern development.  Hand in hand with the doctrinal-development of what amounts to a sort of pseudo-mysticism regarding the efficacy of icons over Western religious painting.

If icon painters write rather than paint, perhaps the illiterate artisans who made the stained glass windows depicting Salvation history for Chartres were typesetters then?  Not artisans or glass workers?

2014 marked the fourth centenary of El Greco's death, and a few major exhibitions celebrated his life last year.  Missed them all, I'm afraid.  The header for this post is the title of a 2010 exhibition at the Onassis in NYC.  I may look to purchase the catalog.

El Greco was considered to be an eccentric.  He didn't get on well with the Romans.

From icon painter to artist - El Greco strikes me as an example of how one might move from the naivete of formulaic icon painting to developing real skill as an artist.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Catholic Social Media and Accuracy ... Volpi is dead... The Pope will abolish the Swiss Guards ...


"The warning will occur 'at a time when we most need it' ... etc.."

Remember that one?

Ever hear the one about how the Pope intends to get rid of the Swiss Guard?
Dec 4, 2014 - Pope sacks the head of his Swiss Guard for being 'too strict' ..... I hope he doesn't get rid of them or try to force them to wear business suits. 
The Swiss Guard has been protecting the Pope and his palace since 1506... 
Dec 5, 2014 - Pope Francis fires head of the Swiss Guard: 'I give the orders around here' ... The Pope is said to have been appalled recently to have emerged ...
This week the scourge of the FFI, Fr. Fidenzo Volpi was reported to be dead.
2 days ago - It seems Fr Fidenzio Volpi O.F.M. Cap. has died today, 6 May 2015

2 days ago - There are rumors that the pope is seeking to replace the dead Volpi with a Jesuit to ... Praying for Full Restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

Oops ...
1 day ago - The news spread yesterday of the sudden death of Father Volpi was, as they say, premature. Fr Volpi suffered a massive stroke...
How disappointing is that, huh?

So anyway.

The Swiss Guard fantasy can be put to rest this week as well.
VATICAN CITY — Thirty-two new Swiss Guards Wednesday swore an oath of allegiance to Pope Francis, who told them their role is one of courageously imitating Christ, which ought to be rooted in prayer. 
In an audience with the new guards and their families earlier in the week, Pope Francis said it was an occasion “to nurture a meaningful friendship, because you work so close to me.” - NCRegister


Happy Birthday to Cathy of Alexandria

Cathy and Ray

Once upon a time there was a pretty little girl who worked in an office doing stuff, but nobody knew what she did. Way back when blogs were first invented, she had a site called Recovering Dissident Catholic, which was very popular. Then she quit blogging and ran off with a cat - intending to create some sort of act in Vegas.   After that, no one ever heard from her again - until last weekend.

She was seen having breakfast last Saturday with a former US Marshall, Ray.  They were seen in a cheap restaurant in St. Paul.  No one sees her or hears from her except Ray. A few years ago Ray bought Cathy the dress shown in the photo.  He used to be a film actor in the late 1950's, then he moved back to Minneapolis and opened his own Private Investigation firm - which is how he met Cathy who hired him to spy on her neighbors, who she thought were video-taping her when she danced.  That's all I know.

[I'm told Cathy spends her free time braiding her cat's fur, stacking and gluing Cold Spring beer bottles to be used as room dividers for lofts, and calling the cops on her neighbors.]

Happy Birthday Cath!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Black Lives Matter? Really? At least 214 girls freed from Boko Haram are pregnant.

Punished with a baby by Islamic terrorists.

This is infuriating news.  Despicable crimes committed against women and young girls and no one talks about it.  Where are Black leaders on this?  Where are the feminists?  Where are Muslim leaders?  Where are world leaders?  No one to condemn these animals?  Boko Haram savages punish women, subjugate them, enslave them.  Those who aren't killed are used as sex slaves and impregnated.
The United Nations (UN) says at least 214 young women and girls recently rescued from the the camps of the Takfiri Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria are pregnant. 
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA)’s executive director, Babatunde Osotimehin, said Monday that many of these women are undergoing medical tests and screening for various diseases and infections, including HIV/AIDS. 
"About 214 of those already screened were discovered to be at various stages of pregnancies, some visibly pregnant and some just tested pregnant; but we are supporting all of them with various levels of care to stabilize them," the UN official added. 
“Some of the children that were freed along with the women, it was discovered, were born in the forest and had never been out in the open until their release by the Nigerian Army,” Osotimehin said. 
Nigeria’s army says it freed almost 7,000 women from various Boko Haram camps last week. - Source

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

More on the Fatima Secret.

No doubt, the revelation of the Third Secret in June 2000 was disappointing to many 'Fatimists'.

I think many people thought it couldn't be that simple.  There had to be more.  Sr. Lucy had a double.  Cardinal Bertone lied.  The Devil's Final Battle ...  Fatima sensationalists made a career of speculative theories on what the true secret entailed, how there were conspirators in the Vatican .... the book, The Devil's Final Battle named names.  The authors and people such as the late Fr. Gruner and his followers seemed to rank Malachi Martin right up there with Sr. Lucia as knowing the real contents of the Third Secret.  Even people like Mother Angelica believed there was more to it than what was revealed.

It is said Sr. Lucia was at times amused by such theories, and at other times, deeply saddened.

"Some people are never happy! It is no matter." The Carmelite nuns with whom she lived stated: "It was painful for Sister Lucia to hear the insistence by some that the third part of the Secret was not fully revealed. She lamented: 'If only they live what is the most important thing, which has already been said... They only concern themselves with what is left to be said, instead of complying with the request that was prayer and penance.'" - A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary
Today, new 'discerners' and 'prophecy experts' online have been busy deciphering the latest mysterious revelations from Sr. Lucia, who had an 'enlightenment' which indicated a massive 'global calamity' may be in store for the world... A prophecy echoing all sorts of other prophecies for the 21st century which have spread throughout the world.

While not part of the formal secret, there remains the intriguing "enlightenment" that she revealed to her confreres in 1944 (on the earth's axis): "The tip of the spear as a flame unlatches and touches the axis of the earth. It shudders. Mountains, cities, towns, and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, the rivers, and the clouds emerge from their limits, overflowing and bringing with them in a whirlwind houses and people in numbers that are not possible to count. It is the purification of the world as it plunges into sin. Hatred and ambition cause the destructive war!" - A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary
Works for me.

Nevertheless, the essential message of Fatima is still to be accomplished - by us.  Conversion, prayer, and penance:  The fulfillment of the duties of our state in life, to avoid sin, to be faithful to Catholic teaching, and so on.
Our Lady insisted at Fatima: "Men must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins. . . . They must no longer offend Our Lord, Who is already so much offended." The Fatima message is a call for men to give up sinful practices which grieve God and draw down His chastisements on the world, and to make reparation for them. Commenting on Our Lady's request for penance, Sr. Lucia wrote: "The part of the last apparition which has remained most deeply imprinted on my heart is the prayer of our heavenly Mother begging us not to offend any more Almighty God, Who is already so much offended." -Source
Sensationalism is for disaster films, which feed our appetite for excitement and cheap thrills - another factor which may account for why 'scare tactics' don't work very well in modern times.  Our natural fear responses are dulled by external stimulus which overloads the senses and imagination and distracts our attention from the work of sanctification and salvation.

What is telling about the latest reports concerning the Third Secret (actually - there is only one secret, divided into 3 parts) is that in a later vision, Our Lady counselled Sr. Lucia not to interpret the vision herself, saying: 
"Be at peace and write what they order you, but do not give your opinion of its meaning."
In fact, Sr. Lucia left it up to the Church to interpret the meaning of the vision, and this was done by the CDF while JPII was alive, and Cardinal Ratzinger was head.  Read it here.  What seems clear to me is that many Catholics today, progressive, liberal, conservative, traditional alike, pay little or no attention to what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conveys to the faithful.  From its teaching on faith and morals and especially sexual ethics, to the notification on false mystics and dubious apparitions.

Fr. Nicholas Gruner, RIP

Fr. Gruner was a great 'Fatimist' who seemed to have gone astray by conspiracy theories and theorists - authors of fiction and fantasy.  He did not believe the secret was revealed in its entirety, nor did he believe the Consecration of Russia took place.  He died April 29, 2015.

It appears Fr. Gruner may have accepted the Bayside apparitions as true.  The Bayside events have been condemned repeatedly by the local ordinary.  It seems to me that Gruner may have gone off track by making a sort of cult out of Marian apparitions and locutions.  In this respect he reminds me of other dubious mystics such as Fr. Gino Burresi of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, Vassula Ryden, Mary Ann Van Hoof, Mama Rosa of San Damiano, and many others.

I'm no expert of course, but it seems to me some of these false mystics may have been convinced by naive, even misguided, spiritual directors who believe the 'mystic's' experiences are authentic and from the good spirit - hence they urge them to continue on the path they are following - when in fact, both can be deluded.  The blind leading the blind.

+ + +

Bayside visionary, Veronica Leukin
"Can you hear me now?"

I've had enough.

"This is typical. Absolutely typical...of the kind of...arse I have to put up with from you people. You ponce in here expecting to be waited on hand and foot, while I'm trying to run a hotel here. Have you any idea of how much there is to do? Do you ever think of that? Of course not, you're all too busy sticking your noses into every corner, poking around for things to complain about, aren't you? Well let me tell you something - this is exactly how Nazi Germany started. A lot of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble. Well I've had fifteen years of pandering to the likes of you, and I've had enough. I've had it. Come on, pack your bags and get out."

Scare tactics don't work.

Gay sex can kill you.

I know someone who only cares about that fact on his way to the Dr. to get tested.  The statistics are good for researchers and essayists, but I doubt they're a big deterrent.

Of course there are many people online who love to quote stats on how damaging gay sex is to one's health.  And not just men's health either.  I came across a comment by someone who comments a lot on a host of different blogs and articles on marriage and family.  I laughed out loud because of how it was phrased, and when I was telling someone about it, I was laughing so hard I could hardly get it out.

The discussion was about lesbians and STD's:
"They have their own risky behaviors. A lesbian cousin of mine was killed by leukemia on her death certificate, but the last crisis was brought on by a yeast infection due to fisting."

Do they really do that?


So anyway.  It's unverifiable hearsay, an unverifiable diagnosis offered as proof.  Yeast infections are common for women - frequently resulting from some sort of lubricant.  It happens to lesbian and hetero women. 

I've been reading so much stupid stuff online lately - which may be one reason I have trouble taking a lot of the crap that is posted seriously.  Oh well.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

There's gonna be an earthquake.

That's all I got today.

Seriously.  It's been on my mind for days and days and days.

Call me crazy.


Did you know?

The view from space.  
Where is Frostbite Falls?  Where's Iowa?
Where's the Oklahoma Panhandle?

Did you know the lines shown on the map which separate states and countries are not really there in nature?

Those borders do not exist - they are all man-made.

Totally made up.
Sign up now for a career in cartography here.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Size the Day - Tudor Menswear: Wolf Hall misses.

Did you know?

First, did you know cod is the ye Olde English term for scrotum?

Did you know men were size conscious in the day?

I knew they wore tights and codpieces, but I just thought it was the bar-wear of the day... What?

During publicity interviews for the recent BBC TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, Mark Rylance joked that the codpieces weren’t big enough. US co-production sensibilities, he hinted, required the gentlemen’s appendages to be “tucked away”. This was strenuously denied – there had been no codpiece memo from PBS, apparently – yet critics couldn’t help noticing that all the male characters were discreetly treated in the groin area. Even Damian Lewis, who as Henry VIII might have been expected to sport a giant phallus to emphasise the priapic gusts on which the plot turns, appeared to favour a series of tunics that reached coyly to his knees.

But a quick flip through Fashioning the Body makes you realise just how big the codpieces could have been, if the programme makers had wanted to go in that direction. By the 1530s, the decade in which Wolf Hall is mostly set, there was absolutely no subtlety on the subject. Codpieces (from “cod”, the old English word for scrotum) had become so large that it was impossible for men to bend over to pull on their shoes. This might not matter much if you had people to do that sort of thing for you, but it inconvenienced peasants and labourers, who, surprisingly, were also keen on turning their genitalia into a metaphor of dominance and control. - source

"Is that a phone in your pocket of are you just happy to see me?"

I find it strange as regards modesty, how men were rarely held to account - that it was always women who were condemned for immodest dress, when in fact, male attire could be rather provocative as well.

Since that period, the style has come and gone, but manages to resurface from time to time, and may be making a comeback in our day.
In the Regency period, skintight trousers for men were teamed with narrow coats (rather than Henrician puffed shoulders and barrel chests) to create a long, lean line broken by a wide buttoned flap that puckered and pouched much like an impromptu codpiece. The effect was to draw attention to the phallus while nonchalantly pretending that it was the last thing on your mind.
Now, 200 years on, we have something called shapewear, which comprises not just the obvious waist-pinching, bottom-lifting contraptions for women, but also men’s underpants with padded crotch. The idea is to fashion a discreet bulge under skinny jeans. This, says editor Denis Bruna, is a reaction to the baggy, falling-down aesthetic of five years ago, which made young men look as though they were wearing nappies or even skirts. - ibid

BTW:  Just to demonstrate how important this was to men in the Tudor era:  Did you know that when a man was hanged, drawn and quartered, he was emasculated before drawn and quartered?

"So you see Sherman, this sheds an entirely 
new light upon what we had heretofore
known about the Tudor penal code."

The Carthusian Martyrs

On 4th May 1535 three prominent Carthusian monks were put to death at Tyburn, along with a Bridgettine monk and a priest. They were executed for refusing to accept the King as the Supreme Head of the Church and “for writing and giving counsel against the King”. The men were John Houghton, Robert Lawrence and Augustine Webster, respectively priors of the London Charterhouse, Beauvale and Axholme – and a Bridgettine monk, Richard Reynolds of Syon Abbey. - Source

Still watching Wolf Hall on PBS.

The same challenges are with us today.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Body, Blood, Soul, AND Divinity of Christ.

Unless you believe that I Am ...

Yet the Divinity of Christ is often left out or skimmed over.

Have you ever watched a PBS documentary on the Life of Christ, with all the PhD's and their narrative on the historical Jesus, the man Christ?  They go into great detail, defining characteristics of the politics of the time, the social milieu, even the archaeological traces of ancient lifestyles and so on?  Even when their exegesis gets a bit too 'modern' - dismissing the Biblical texts or judging them to be middle eastern exaggerations or hyperbole - they completely avoid giving the impression Jesus knew he was God, and more telling, they avoid saying directly that he is God.  One accepts such doctrinal neutrality since the documentaries are secular narrations, historical and academic in purpose.  That's fine and I can easily ignore that feature.  My faith isn't shaken by it.

The following example from the Frontline series, From Jesus to Christ is an example of what I'm saying:
"From Jesus to Christ" reveals that Christianity did not arise as a single, uniform, and coherent movement, but as one marked by diversity of opinion, practice, and belief. From the beginning, the movement was forged by conflict as the early Christians wrestled with their Jewish heritage, collided with paganism, challenged the authority of the Roman Empire, and clashed with each other. - Source
This type of 'Biblical-study' may be another reason why men and women do not go to Mass, pretty much because religious educators and priests sometimes simply take it for granted that the 'choir' they are preaching to already fully believes that Jesus Christ is Lord - that he is God - the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father.  (One in being: Father, Son, Holy Spirit - One God.)  Christ is the full revelation of the divinity, the complete revelation of the Father.  As stated in Colossians 2:9, "For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily."  Sometimes - even frequently - that seems to get glossed over.  Sadly, some priests seem to think the historical Jesus is much more important to discuss - more 'relevant' to the ordinary person in the pew.  Sometimes it seems they may not even believe it themselves - that Christ is God - truly present...

Well catechized Catholics know that the Eucharist is the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ ... don't they?

Not long ago I mentioned an essay in Magnificat by Fr. Robert Barron.  My point was obscured because I think a couple of people thought I was taking some sort issue with Barron's theology.  People online do that when a popular Catholic personality is referenced - as if everything and everyone must be defended - and it's that type of dialogue online which gets to be frustrating and distracts one from more important issues.

The essay I referred to is in this month's Magnifcat and appears today.  It's fine - nothing wrong with what Fr. Barron wrote - it's short, just a couple of paragraphs.  Fr. Barron discusses Buddha, Mohammad, Confucius and compares them to Christ.  Yes, Fr. Barron affirms the divinity of Christ, writing, "He is, in his own person, the divine life ..."  That's true, that's good.  It echoes St. Paul.  Yet it seems to me it should be the the first and foremost distinction in an age marked by religious and moral syncretism.  Of course Fr. Barron was writing for readers who already know that Christ is God - I'm not criticizing him (or other homilists) for what he said or neglected to say.  I simply used the piece as an example.  Some may read on where Fr. B. mentions Christ's "Body and Blood, which he invites them to consume."  Well catechized Catholics know that the Eucharist is the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ ... don't they?

Frequently such snippets become part of a homily, they can be like an abridgement within a feverino.  Likewise, the language of PBS specials can creep into a presentation - to avoid sounding 'overly pious' and to appeal to the more academic sensibilities of the hearers.  For instance, how many times have you heard, "John records Jesus saying 'I Am' x number of times.  'I Am the vine' - he's comparing himself to God - he's using that language which gets the Pharisees so upset."  First, who cares how many times something is repeated in Scripture - if Christ said it once, it should be enough. The homilist then goes on to call out the Pharisees of our day and sums it all up with some moral lesson telling us we have to be more welcoming or something.  Yet - the most rapturous dimension of what Christ revealed in identifying himself as "I Am" is that he is God in whom dwells the fullness of the Divinity.  That should 'slay us in the spirit' as it were.  I mean, just think - we should have to tear ourselves away after Holy Communion if we could real-ize - for just an instant, the awesomeness of what we have consumed.

If people really believed Jesus Christ is God they would knock down the doors of Catholic churches not just for Mass but for prayer throughout all hours of the day and night.  They would be like the Samaritan woman who ran to the townspeople - those from whom she hid and shied away from because of her lifestyle, and she told them to come meet the Christ.

You see, once we diminish the identity of Christ as the Son of God, we are left to view Him as simply a historical figure that was a nice guy... - Fr. Heilman

Sorry for the long intro, which isn't artfully written at all, but I wanted to share with you the following post by Fr. Richard Heilman on "Stealth Arianism".  It expresses many of the ideas and thoughts floating around in my head, and my heart, for the past few months.

Stealth Arianism: The pervasive heresy of our times.
For the past two years I have been confiding to close friends my own growing sense that something is happening, that something unholy is stirring. I have spoken with others who have admitted the same suspicion. The way I have tried to describe it in the past is like the rumblings felt just before a volcano explodes.
Now, I find myself wondering if the eruption is upon us.
Many have pointed to “Modernism” as the heresy of our times. Modernism, while it takes many forms, is basically a break or rejection of our past in favor of all things new. And, while it seems evident that our Church is fully infected with the heresy of Modernism, I believe that it, too, is a symptom of this more fundamental threat.
What am I referring to? Something that impacts the very nature of human existence and the opportunity for our salvation. Lacking an official name, I call this monster, “Stealth Arianism.” Students of history know that the Arian heresy – the worst crisis in the Church before our present age – was rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ was merely a created being, not equal to God the Father. Stealth Arianism follows the same fatal error, but with a twist: while the Arians of the fourth century openly denied Christ’s divinity, today‘s Arians will profess Jesus as God, and yet through their actions deny it. In other words, they don’t even know they are heretics. Many even believe that they are doing God’s work in their attempts to elevate Christ’s humanity at the cost of His divinity.
You see, once we diminish the identity of Christ as the Son of God, we are left to view Him as simply a historical figure that was a nice guy, a respectable teacher and a good example for how we are to live. Religion is then reduced to a nice organization that does nice things for people as we seek a kind of psychotherapy for self-actualization. And this is not only not what He came to give us, but it’s something He made sure to leave no room for.
How do we recognize this pervasive Stealth Arianism?” - Finish reading here.

THAT'S IT!  I think that's pretty much what I've been trying to articulate.

Thanks to Ray for the Fr. Heilman piece - providential timing.