September 2014

Mathias Gruenwald. Head of a Crying Angel (c. 1520). Staatliche Museen, Berlin.

Christian mission is not to preach Christ, but to be Christians in life. —Fr. Alexander Schmemann The new evangelization is hardly different from the old. It resides, as it has from the first century, in the lived witness of individuals to a risen Lord—to the sacramental character of the world, of time itself, and of each other’s place in it. It inhabits right relations between persons. And it endures in confession of inexhaustible sorrow over failure in those relations. Mathias Gruenwald. Continue Reading
Jan Bulhak. Evening Light. From series on Vilnius in the 1930s).

Among letters responding to recent posts are two from Dublin. One is from a parish priest uneasy with Rome’s Disneyfied wedding fest and its predictable press response. One of the uncountable shepherds of a stumbling contemporary flock, he writes to say:
The last two weddings I had were of couples with a child – and the vast majority now cohabit before their nuptials. The apparent attempt to spin this with details released to the press was puerile and offensive —not to mind a breach of confidentiality of those concerned.
Continue Reading
Solange Gautier. Bride Running from Toad Groom (early 20th C.).

Would Lena Marie and Walter still be together if they had been married by the pope? Thomas Theodor Heine. Bride-to-be Admiring Herself in Mirror (1898). Simplicissimus. Munich. Lena was the first of my old high school friends to marry. From wedding march to wedding cake, the nuptials were grand. Preliminaries, too, were imposing—the showers, the parties, the trousseau. Yes, a trousseau! A chest of linens with trim crocheted and tatted by Aunt Philomena, nightgowns hand-smocked and embroidered by Cousin Lucy back in La Spezia. Continue Reading
Calvary movie actors

The movie Calvary is a stunning meditation on the Christian story. If you have not already seen it, you might want to save this until later. Every review is a spoiler to some degree. But this is less review than reflection on a film, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, that rises to the power of the 1951 Diary of a Country Priest. The earlier French film, adapted from Georges Bernanos’s novel by the towering Robert Bressson, has had no equal until now. Continue Reading
Adolph Gustav Mossa. Salomé (early 20th C.)

The single New Testament reference to anything that comes close to the arts is that messy episode with Herodias’ daughter. Was it dirty dancing? Or “natural” dance, precursor to Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and the pioneers of improvisational movement? Either way, we know how the program ended. Adolph Gustav Mossa. Salomé (early 20th C.) There are better reasons to be uneasy about the efficacy of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Art and Culture as the zenith of evangelization. History is full of mischief. Continue Reading