May we desire that our hearts be informed by the glory of God as experienced in beauty! May we seek God’s glory in the presence of others, especially in those quite unlike ourselves! May we pray for the gift of discernment, that we may learn to recognize that which is leads us to God and that which leads us away from Him! May we see all bushes aflame with the glory of God and all people as transfigured in the love which He offers! May we listen intently, give generously, and love openly! And may we turn to the many holy men and women who have gone before us for the inspiration to learn how to see and hear the glory of God! Let us continue to meet in the glorious Heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
Next entry: February 27.
Notes about music: Taste is subjective, but here are some recommendations: any Bach Fugue, Schubert's 9th Symphony, (in C Major), Requiem, Op. 48 by Gabriel Fauré, (The In Paradisum is sublime!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnilUPXmipM, Beethoven's 6th Symphony, (The Pastoral), Samuel Barber's famous and haunting Adagio for Strings. ~
Also beautiful is Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j10M6rGKuxA. And I have to mention the Prologue of Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele, (in this one Faust is redeemed in the end). In it you will see Mefistofele on stage for a moment, and as he leaves the choir of angels begins to sing the most exquisite chorus I have ever heard in an opera. There are subtitles in this, and though the picture is not great, it is the best rendition I could find. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38E39KBdN1Q
1: The first image is a painting called Snow at Argenteuil, by Claude Monet, (1875) This is one of 18 snow scenes he painted near the Boulevard Saint-Denis. There are many Monet paintings that people are familiar with, but I chose this one because of the beauty in all the tones of white that he used. There is a silence that comes when snow blankets the earth, so this scene seemed almost contemplative. The "silent sound" which Elijah experienced, (mentioned in my previous post), is perhaps being 'spoken' by God in this moment. I also chose it because of the people walking in the snow. They may be observing the glory of God visually as well as in the silence.
2: This painting is called Naomi and Her Daughters-In-Law by Marc Chagall. (1960) It depicts the passage in which Orpah decided to return to her hometown in Moab while Naomi and Ruth made their way into Israel. This painting captures their tearful farewell. (Ruth 1:14) I chose it because it shows the heroism and loyalty of Ruth, both to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and to God. Yet she mourned in leaving her sister-in-law Orpah since she knew they might never see each other again. God's glory is depicted here in the love of these women for each other, but especially in that of Ruth who gave everything up to serve the God of Naomi who she began to trust as her own. I love where this story ends up: Ruth marries the love of her life, Boaz, and together they have a son named Jesse, the father of David. https://www.original-prints.com/Marc-Chagall-Naomi-and-her-daughters-in-law-Original-Lithograph-1960::1244:321.html
3: This painting is called Saul and David, by Rembrandt (1655). I chose this painting precisely because it is from a different time period than the first two, seen above. All three were intentionally chosen from different periods to show different styles, each in their own way a work of beauty. As is typical of Rembrandt, the hues are largely muted and dark. But I also loved that David can be seen playing his gittith (lyre), singing to soothe the madness of King Saul. Even though Saul had tried to kill David multiple times, David still loved him as his king and friend. He loved as his eventual descendant, Jesus our Lord, taught during His ministry, which is to love our enemy; David loved with agapè love which means to love those who are hardest to love. This love gives glory to God more than any other love, and it also allows us to see God's glory because this is how God loves. http://www.wga.hu/html_m/r/rembrand/15oldtes/22oldtes.html
4: This icon is called Nuestro Salvador De Las Sandias, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It shows Jesus gesturing as to bless and heal, bringing life to a lifeless desert. Jesus gives life to us through His love which will be poured out on the Cross and then will remain with us especially through the gift of the Eucharist. Everything Jesus did was 'God's glory given expression' because He is the Son of God. There is no greater beauty. You can find this icon at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/nuestro-salvador-de-las-sandias-012-william-hart-mcnichols.html
5: This is also the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols, an icon called Mother of God of Kosovo, although she goes by many different names, such as 'Mother of God Queen of Pilgrims.' In the book, Mary, Mother of All Nations by Megan McKenna and icons by Fr. William Hart McNichols, McKenna writes about this icon: "She is the woman of Kosovo, of Northern Ireland, of Iraq, of the West Bank of Palestine, of Sierra Leone, of Kibeho...and of so many places." (page 116) I chose this icon because it shows that Mary intercedes for us knowing that God is with all of His people. The flame of fire, a reference to the Shekinah (God's presence in the burning bush) shows that we need to learn to see the alien or stranger in our midst as part of God's glory. That is, they are no less capable of transfiguration than we are, and in fact, we need to let God show them to us as transfigured in His love. You can find the icon at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/mother-of-god-of-kosovo-087-william-hart-mcnichols.html
6: This is one of my photos. I took this in Biloxi, Mississippi during a sunset. I chose to use it here because it shows that sometimes things are not as they appear. It seems like there are multiple suns in this shot, when in reality it was simply taken through two panes of glass, thus the lens caught the sun's reflection. The glass cannot be seen here, so it creates an optical illusion. God's glory is in the sunset, but we also learn that sometimes there are unseen factors at play, and so this teaches us to trust God.
7. Lastly, another work of the artist to whom I referred at the very beginning of this piece, Fr. William Hart McNichols. He has taught me how to truly see and appreciate art and so that is why I have used (always with permission) three of his works in this entry. This one is not an icon, but rather a painting called St. John of the Cross in the Dark Night of the Soul. Even though St. John was thrown into prison by his own religious brothers, he spent the time with God in deep contemplation, penning some of his greatest works. He had great suffering during his imprisonment, but he also gained deeply mystical understanding through the experience. Being a gifted poet, he wrote a series of poems which he then spent many years explaining (after a dramatic escape from the prison), leaving for us works of mystical theology and beauty. He found the glory of God within the prison (perhaps also in the stars outside the window) and in turn shared God's glory with us. You can find this work at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-john-of-the-cross-in-the-dark-night-of-the-soul-290-william-hart-mcnichols.html