Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Madonna of the Dry Tree

Petrus Christus, Madonna of the Dry Tree, c. 1465
Oil on oak (5 3/4" x 4 7/8")
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
There are so many interesting aspects to this tiny painting, symbolism abounds. The Tree of Knowledge, withered and dry after Adam and Eve ate of its fruit, comes to life through the Virgin. The Virgin, herself the miraculous product of the barren Anne, in turn gives birth via the Immaculate Conception. The dry tree presages the crown of thorns, representing Christ’s sacrifice for man’s redemption. Another fascinating element of this painting are the 15 golden ‘A’s that hang from the thorns of the tree. These represent Ave Maria, the Hail Mary prayer of the rosary. Ave is the reverse of Eva, or Eve—a reminder that Eve’s fall is redeemed through Mary, the new Eve, who is not only the mother of Christ but the intercessor for all mankind.

Mary’s cloak is wonderfully depicted in all details of folds, showing the technical skill of painting of Petrus Christus. The folds also give a lively impression to an otherwise fixed image that was also rare in pictures of the Virgin of those times. The baby Jesus enhances the liveliness further since he seems to struggle out of Mary’s arms, wanting to go into the world on his own. Jesus is oblivious of the seriousness of the theme. Here too, Petrus Christus somewhat evolved tradition since he painted the Virgin holding Jesus in her right arm, with her left hand gently playing or holding Jesus’s toes. The face of the Virgin is dignified, aware of the mystery of her conception and of the importance of her son and unafraid. This is not a subdued Mary lost in sorrows, but a triumphant and confident mother who sees the dangers and the cruel menace but who chooses to ignore the fate because of her motherly love.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Dragon Sickness

This short video is a commentary by Fr. Barron: This story describes concupiscence -- which is an errant form of desire to gather wealth. Tolkien describes in his story, "The Hobbit", how one can be consumed with gross materialism and become obsessed with wealth for its own sake; and even if we cannot use it (the stuff), we cling to it, hoarding it, gloating over it and defending it with our life.
After watching this video, I couldn't help but think it so adequately describes the society in which we live. Fr. Barron goes on to say that even though we are drawn into desiring "things" and become infected with the Dragon sickness, God gives us grace to overcome it and if we listen to His voice we will discover that by giving away the things that we so deeply covet, that in the process we are then healed.
Perhaps we are committing a sin by giving so much stuff to our children and are complicit in the sin that follows -- The Dragon Sickness that infects our children. Let us take a step back, and rethink this whole thing with Christmas presents -- what is it all for anyway???
Let us redirect our children's hearts and minds to God and help them remember that we are celebrating the birth of Christ our Savior who came to save us from sin, and from the Dragon Sickness.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

The Senseless violence in Newtown, Conn

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Isn't this the cutest bag? It's made from a bag of chicken feed by "Real Southern Living blog": Here is the link:

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Immaculata

The Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation - I am a convert to the Catholic Church and did not understand this concept at all until I heard a priest talk about how the vessel that brought God into the world had to be clean and pure, without blemish - in fact, immaculate. After hearing it explained in those terms, the light went on and I finally understood.
How could one think otherwise? Of course, Jesus, the Son of the Living God, in fact, God Himself Incarnate, could only come to this world in a sinless womb. A human being immaculately conceived. His way was prepared from the dawn of time itself. Thank you, dear Jesus, for loving us so much and coming to this earth, dying for our sins, that we might live forever with you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rabbit and sweetpea

There's just something about this rabbit that I love.
artist: C.C.Barton

Occupy your minds with good thoughts.....

Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.

-- St Thomas More