Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Icon of the Holy Trinity

The Trinity, Andrei Rublev (1370-1430), Moscow
(Click on image to inlarge)

In Andrei Rublev’s icon, the persons of the Holy Trinity are shown in the order in which they are confessed in the Credo. The first angel is the first person of the Trinity - God the Father; the second, middle angel is God the Son; the third angel is God the Holy Spirit. All three angels are blessing the chalice, in which lies a sacrificed calf, prepared for eating. The sacrifice of the calf signifies the Saviour’s death on the cross, while its preparation as food symbolizes the sacrament of the Eucharist. All three angels have staffs in their hand as a symbol of their divine power.

The first angel, shown at left, is vested in a blue undergarment which depicts his divine celestial nature, and a light purple outer garment which attests to the unfathomable nature and the royal dignity of this angel. Behind him and above his head towers a house, the abode of Abraham, and a sacrificial altar in front of the house. This image of the abode has a symbolic meaning: the house signifies God’s master plan for creation, while the fact that the house towers above the first angel shows him to be the head (or Father) of this creation. The same fatherly authority is seen in his entire appearance. His head is not bowed and he is looking at the other two angels. His whole demeanor - the expression on his face, the placement of his hands, the way he is sitting - all speaks of his fatherly dignity. The other two angels have their heads inclined and eyes turned toward the first angel with great attention, as though conversing with him about the salvation of mankind.

The second angel is placed in the middle of the icon. This placement is determined by the position held by the second Person within the Trinity Itself. Above his head extend the branches of an oak tree. The vestments of the second angel correspond to those in which the Saviour is usually depicted. The undergarment is a dark crimson color which symbolizes the incarnation, while the blue outer robe signifies the divinity and the celestial nature of this angel. The second angel is inclined towards the first angel, as though deep in conversation. The tree behind him serves as a reminder of the tree of life that was standing in Eden, and of the cross.

The angel on the right is the third Person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit. His light blue undergarment and smoky-green outer garment represent heaven and earth, and signify the life-giving force of the Holy Spirit, which animates everything that exists. “By the Holy Spirit every soul lives and is elevated in purity” - sings the Church. This elevation in purity is represented in the icon by a mountain above the third angel.

Thus Andrei Rublev’s icon, while being an unsurpassed work of iconography, is first and foremost a “theology in color,” which instructs us in all that concerns the revelation of the triune God and the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

From the book “Thoughts on Iconography” by monk Gregory Krug.

The Liturgy's Source of Beauty

2.2. The noble simplicity of love

The Gospels describe the human and concrete gestures of Jesus: he walks, he blesses, he touches, he heals, he mixes saliva and mud, he raises his eyes to heaven, he breaks the bread, he takes the cup. These are the gestures repeated in the celebration of the sacraments. But it was above all on the night of his passion that Jesus taught us the gestures that we too must perform. He is our master of liturgical education. His art consists in setting forth the essential in a few simple things. The meaning of the liturgy is revealed only through simplicity and sobriety. «He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you his heavenly Father; he showed the depth of his love. While they were at supper he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples saying […]. In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said […] ».[3] What is it that made this act of the Lord so beautiful? The way the room was arranged? The way the table was prepared? Fine table linen? Certainly these things bring out its beauty, like a frame which enhances the beauty of a picture. Yet the real beauty lies in Jesus’ act of redeeming love: «he showed the depth of his love… he took bread». Here lies the beauty of his gesture. Repeating this action of Christ, and recognising in it her Lord’s love, the Church finds it beautiful. The liturgy’s aesthetic value, its beauty, depends primarily therefore not on art, but on the paschal mystery of love. If art is to collaborate with the liturgy it needs to be evangelised by love. The beauty of a Eucharistic celebration essentially depends not on the beauty of architecture, icons, decoration, songs, vestments, choreography and colours, but above all on the ability to reveal the gesture of love performed by Jesus. Through the gestures, words and prayers of the liturgy we strive to repeat and render visible the gestures, prayers and words of the Lord Jesus. This is what the Lord commanded: «Do this in memory of me».


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Effective Apologia

The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.

Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church's human history.

If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection?

No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty—and hence truth—is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of hell.

—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report

The Feast of St. St. Fabian, 19 January

Fabian's election to the papacy (236 - 250 AD) is told by Eusebius in his "Ecclesiastical History" (VI, xxix ):

"It is said that Fabian, after the death of Anteros, came from the country along with others and stayed at Rome, where he came to the office in a most miraculous manner, thanks to the divine and heavenly grace. For when the brethren were all assembled for the purpose of appointing him who should succeed to the episcopate, and very many notable and distinguished persons were in the thoughts of many, Fabian, who was there, came into nobody's mind. But all of a sudden, they relate, a dove flew down from above and settled on his head as clear imitation of the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove upon the Savior; whereupon the whole people, as if moved by one divine inspiration, with all eagerness and with one soul cried out "worthy," and without more ado took him and placed him on the episcopal throne."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bilbo Doll House

If you’re a Lord of the Ring fan or if you love hobbits then you have to check out this dollhouse. The detail of this dollhouse is amazing. Link

Thursday, January 12, 2006

St. Andrew Tie Knot

Well next time you put on your tie to go to Mass make sure that you make a St. Andrew tie knot to give props to Jesus’ worthy servant. I don’t know why I like obscure saint references. I guess because I like subtle reminders of God to be woven throughout my every day experiences.

St. Andrew tie knot

Legend says that the Apostle St. Andrew was martyred by being crucified to an X because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus. Because of this legend St. Andrew is usually depicted caring a large X and the X has become his symbol. The tie knote is called St. Andrews because it makes an X to tie it. How does this help you in doing apologetics? I don't know, but it can't hurt. Link

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Present Day Architecture: The Dark Ages?

I picked up a book on architecture at the library the other day. I wish I could say that I got it for the articles…and not the pictures. I did stumble upon this quote, which is interesting from an apologetics standpoint.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century there are many more people and exponentially more architects than there have been at any time in the history of civilization. This certainly hasn’t led to an increase in the quality of architecture. Why? Because we no longer build to connect humankind to God or to make sense of our place in the cosmos, but for any number of mundane, banal, fashionable, and profitable reasons that reduce architecture to a vainglorious and earthly pursuit. It is significant that at the very time in history when technology allows buildings to be more thrilling than they ever have been so many are so lackluster, so many more demeaning. Indeed, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the architect’s role has declined. To survive, to continue to excite us as great mosques and temples have done over the millennia, architects need to rediscover the high ground of the imagination, to be the shamans and magicians their predecessors were before the Industrial Revolution when mere building became all too easy. Jonathan Glancey, The Story of Architecture

This is very powerful coming from a secular source. I guess religion is not all bad. Who would have thought?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Gideon Bible Card Trick

I thought that this might be a fun way to start a conversation about the Bible with a non-Christian.
One of my favorites is The Gideon Bible Card Trick, which you can perform the nest (sic) time you're staying at a hotel. You ask your friend, or the bellman, or anyone you want to trick, to shuffle a pack of cards and draw a one while you are across the room. Then you pull out the Gideon Bible that all hotels have in the bed table drawer. Ask your friend to turn to Revelation, chapter 17 ("which is all about abominations, and sounds for all the world like an invitation to hell"). Then you hand him a warm clothes iron and tell him to iron the page while keeping one hand on the card. What happens next is chilling:

Slowly, brownish bloodstains appear on three isolated words of text--

(Click on the picture for enlargement) Now I just have to figure out how you get the person to pick the ten of hearts. The card trick is from the book
Penn & Teller's How to Play in Traffic.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Curt Jester

If you don't know about The Curt Jester blog you should. This guy is a comedic genius. Here is a taste of his latest spoof.

Extreme Makeover: Church Edition



This blog just kills me. It is a perfect example of indirect apologetics. Link

Friday, January 06, 2006

Dion: Truth Will Set You Free

I listened to NPR today and they interviewed Dion. I grew up listening to Dion. My parents played his religious songs all the time and I loved to sing the lyrics. For Christmas, my parents gave me Dion's cd "The Best of the Gospel Years" which has the songs that I loved the most. NPR said that Dion has a new CD called Bronx in Blue and it sounded cool. Dion is famous for his secular songs "I Wonder Why," "A Teenager In Love," "Runaround Sue," and "The Wanderer." Here is a quote from Dion's conversion story that is on his website.

It seemed to me that each individual believer has to acquire enough knowledge on his own in order to know which church can bring him to eternal life. Instead of accepting the Church on God’s terms, I’d have to choose a church of my liking, a church that agreed with me. In those years, I did come to love God’s Word and met some wonderful pastors. But with a new church opening every week with a little different doctrine, it became increasingly difficult and confusing to know what the truth really was.

In late 1997, I came upon a television program called "The Journey Home" on the Eternal Word Television Network. John Haas, a former Protestant clergyman, was Marcus Grodi’s guest. He was talking about the question of authority in the Church. As a Protestant, his final authority was "the Faith and practice of the early, undivided Church." However, there was a problem. He saw there was no living voice of authority to really settle and resolve disputes or controversies in the church he was in.

This started my inquiry into some of the teachings I’d accepted and believed from a Protestant standpoint without serious study.

When I looked, I found that St. Paul called the Church the "pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15) and said to hold to the traditions passed on, "either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). I saw how the early Church recognized the bishop of Rome as the earthly head. I discovered that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit to make decisions without error. This promise by Jesus — this infallible divine guidance — gave us the Bible.

I discovered that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Not symbolically present. Not kind of present. He is really there, under the appearance of bread and wine. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in the first century, wrote about the truth of the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper. And he sat at the feet of St. John who penned John 6:25-69.

Little by little, God helped break through my defiance and ignorance. My misconceptions about the Church were falling away fast. All the questions I had as a Protestant were being answered, as I finally felt those deep parts of me satisfied.

And so I went back to Mount Carmel Catholic Church — where it all began. I went to confession and let it out to Father Frank. I told him where I’d been and what I’d done. When I finished, he stood up, stretched his arms out and said, "Dion, welcome home." I tried to be a man, I tried to stifle myself, but I couldn’t do it. I broke down right there. At last, I met the God who is a Father — a Father who is strong, but loving; tough but gentle. I met a Father who took this wanderer in His mighty arms, and led him home.


Here is a couple of his religious songs that are online. Link
Here is Dion's homepage; Link
Here is the NPR article; Link

Monday, January 02, 2006

Religious Trivia

1. True or False; Apostle is used as a title for Jesus in the Bible.
2. True of False; Bishop is used as a title for Jesus in the Bible.

See bottom of post for answer.

Here are some fun Quizzes if you thought that was fun;

The Jesus in Art Quiz

The Images of Mary Quiz

The Catholic Classics Quiz

1. True, "Brethren,...consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession..." -Hebrews 3:1

2. True, "You have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian* of your souls." -1 Peter 2:25

*Greek, episkopon; Latin, episcopum= bishop. -Trans

Antigua church statue: Maria Magdalena

I really like the photos at this link. It gives you the feeling of the culture of Guatemala. Link

Canvas Earth 8

I thought that this picture was cool. Link