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Saturday, January 26, 2008

One Good Painting deserves another

Father Ray Blake has been thinking about doing his Masses Ad Orientem instead of facing the people.

(Click here for more photos of the whole altar piece and enlargements.)

There was a little heated discussion on his blog here. And he's added a post concerned that people aren't in tune with the sacrifice as much as they should be. (Perhaps it was something I said that concerned him? I dunno. :-D ) If it's any reassurance, I think of the Mass as BOTH sacrifice and meal. You can't have the meal without the sacrifice, of course.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think the "Adoration of the Lamb" section of the Ghent altarpiece by the van Eyck brothers is appropriate. All very PRE-protestant in the early 1400s. There's a nice New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia article about the van Eyck's here, and good enlarged photos of the whole altarpiece in question here. I often think our Catholic schools too often fail to incorporate study of the fine arts in the school curriculum. I think it would be great if there was a concerted effort here and there to put them in Catholic school books. One of my 6th-7th grade nuns would occasionally make a stab at making sure we were familiar with some great fine art material, but she was about the only one I can think of who did so. Thank you, Sister Pauline! (She had her hands full as our English and music teacher as it was.) I think all our schools are too concerned with teaching to standardized texts these days. It was nice sister made the extra effort.

(BTW, I loved studying this one in art history. The *practicing* Catholics definitely had a leg up on this one in getting all the symbolism. I took a little time with one of my "raised vaguely Christian-but-the-children-can-decide when they're older" classmates to slip in a little Catholic apologetics helping her "get it.")


Team Guano F.C. said...


You don't know me, but you probably know of me (for better or worse). Keep up the battle!!! Believe it or not, there ARE people rooting for you!!! The Blog world is a bit one sided!!! You are doing great...thank you for all your reflections!!! I had to take a break from all the blogs that profess "the real thing." I haven't posted for a while...but you deserved it!!! I'm praying for you and you thoughts!!!

gemoftheocean said...

Hi! Thanks for the encouragement! I always felt like I can't be "the only one out there." I really am happy for the people who can now go to the TLM without persecution -- it has much to recommend it, honestly. ESPECIALLY for those who take the time to learn their Latin and do the "homework" which probably many of the bloggers here who prefer that form of the Mass do. [The problem, if there would be one would be those who are a bit lazy in their study -- i.e. a public who would go because it's pretty, i.e. which is fine to a point, but are intellectually on the lazy side, as human nature takes over a number of people, people tend towards inertia.]

And yes, I have see you in the blogosphere, thanks for stopping by.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I love that painting. It really does tell it like it is. I have used it with my older children to explain Mass and the Book of Rev.

I am also putting together some of these paintings for teaching the younger ones about their faith-and about art at the same time. I lean towards Icons because they tell stories so beautifully, but the more I look at the old masters the more I realise they KNEW Scripture and understood the teachings of the Church very well indeed.

gemoftheocean said...

WSNS: You betcha. I find it ironic in looking back that it was only in college (public colleges at that) that outside of that 6-7th grade nun (when I was 11-12 years old) the only time I was formally exposed to Christian art was in the Italian Renaissance Art History I took my last year in college and much later a year of art history at a local college, just for fun.

I did have a book when I was young that explained some famous works of art, and it was good for the level I was at at the time -- for instance a good photo of the art in question on one side and a good explanation of the work in question, why it was famous, a little of the history and or controversy if any of why it was significant. and that sparked an interest in me - plus a few of those art museum visits once in a while - but it was definitely something I sought out. It would have been easy to avoid the subject entirely, which would have been a loss.

It's a mystery to me, especially as you say given the rich heritage of Christian art available. If they managed to put a little Catholic history in our history books, why on earth didn't they manage to throw in the famous art in the religion books? Much better than the touchy-feely "this is you getting a group hug" shots the modern religious texts are riff with. I love the icons too. A little art history thrown in steadily over the years would do a lot of kids a lot of good in their overall education.

Mulier Fortis said...

Just thought I'd let you know... you've been tagged for this meme! (Payback time, Karen dear!!)

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