Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Catholic Masterpieces IV: "The Coronation of the Virgin, and Adoring Saints"

This week's Catholic Masterpiece features another work of art that is on display at the National Gallery in London, which I visited in September of 2004.

This is Lorenzo Monaco's "The Coronation of the Virgin, and Adoring Saints." It was originally an altarpieces from the church of San Benedetto (St. Benedict) fuori della Porta Pinti, which is in Florence, Italy. The church's namesake, St. Benedict, St. Benedict, appears in the left side panel, holding a book containing his Rule on his knees. St. Benedict is also a patron saint of the Camaldolite religious order, which Monaco was a member of as a monk. The Camaldolites observed St. Benedict's Rule, since they were reformed order of Benedictines. Opposite St. Benedict, in the right panel, is the founder of the Camadolites, St. Romuald, who is seated next to St. Peter.

The focal point of the entire altarpiece is in the center panel, in which Jesus Christ is crowning Mary, His Mother, as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Angels appear below Mary and Jesus, kneeling as if in prayer and adoration.

I chose this painting as this week's Catholic Masterpiece because it is a depiction of the Communion of Saints, and the feast of All Saints is in two days. I think it is a beautiful depiction of what awaits all of us, if we observe the Catholic faith obediently and lovingly, and ask our patron saints for their intercession.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

Other than the post about myself, this is the first post that I will be talking about something other than Catholic topics, though this phenomenon, like everything else, was created by God, so we should praise Him for it!

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the sky, whether it's during the day or at night. I like the deep blue of the clear sky when there is no clouds, and the weather is fair. I love the many colors that can appear during a sunrise or sunset. And I love looking at the glorious night sky, with its stars, planets, nebulae, and other objects.

Tonight, there will be a lunar eclipse. As many people know, this occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun during a full moon, and the Earth's shadow falls on the Moon. Unlike a solar eclipse, when the sun can be partially or entirely obscured, the Moon changes color, because some of the Sun's light still reaches the Moon through the Earth's atmosphere. I've seen a few lunar eclipses in my lifetime, and they are always neat to observe.

So if the weather cooperates, take some time after the 10 pm EDT hour and marvel at the beauty of God's creation!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, orant pro nobis!

The Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, which is the diocese I was born and raised in, has distributed an insert to their weekly publication, the Dialog, which contains a litany to St. Thomas More, and a statement from Bishop Saltarelli explaining why he decided to share this litany with the faithful in his diocese, and asked Catholic to pray the litany "especially for politicians who take public anti-life positions." My mother sent me a copy of this litany, and I intend to pray it during the 8 days before Election Day, and Election Day itself. You can download the .pdf file of the insert off the Diocese's home page.

After my mother sent me this insert, I talked to her about it, and I mentioned St. John Fisher, who is a great example for our bishops today. He was the only English bishop who stood up to King Henry VIII, first when he tried to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and then when he began his separation from the Catholic Church. We need more courageous bishops who will take public stands against homosexuality, abortion, and for Christian morality, and are willing to take any kind of criticism, or even persecution for the sake of the Catholic faith. When we see a group of public heretics challenge the tax-exempt status of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Archdiocese of Denver, because their shepherds have simply stood up for Catholic beliefs, we must support these bishops, and pray that God sends us more bishops of their kind.

St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, orant pro nobis!

Brompton Oratory, London, England: Side oratory dedicated to the Martyrs of England. Above the altar, on the left side is St. Thomas More; on the right is St. John Fisher; and in the middle is the gallows of Tyburn, where many Catholics died for the faith.
(Taken by Matthew on 5 September 2004)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Catholic Masterpieces III: "Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows"

God works in mysterious ways. Originally, I wanted to feature another work of art from the National Gallery in London titled "The Mass of St. Giles." Unfortunately, the only site that has it is the National Gallery's website, and the picture file that they have of it is small. But I would still check it out, since the painting and the story behind it is wonderful.

Instead, I tried a Google search in an attempt to find a depiction of Our Lady of Sorrows. I found a beautiful painting on a page that describes the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows (a devotion that I have actually taken up myself)

The artist behind this painting is Adriaen Isenbrant. He was a Flemish artist who lived during the Renaissance. The first thing that I noticed about this painting is the central depiction of Our Lady. The verse from Scripture that came to mind when I saw this depiction is "Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2: 19). These words refer to Mary's response to the visit of the shepherds after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But later in the same chapter is the first of the Seven Sorrows, which is the Prophecy of Simeon. When Mary and Joseph obediently went to Jerusalem a week after Jesus' birth, to present Him in the Temple, Simeon saw the Christ Child and blessed God, proclaiming his famous canticle. He then turned to Mary and said, "Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed" (Luke 2: 34-35). As much as the shepherds' words must have moved Our Blessed Mother, Simeon's words must have affected her even more. She definitely pondered these words in her Immaculate Heart, and they filled her with sorrow. But God gave Our Blessed Mother the grace and the strength to endure all of the sorrows in her life.

This first sorrow is depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the painting. The six other sorrows follow in a counter-clockwise order. For those who don't know the Seven Sorrows, they are:

1.) The Prophecy of Simeon
2.) The Flight into Egypt
3.) The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
4.) Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
5.) The Death of Jesus on the Cross
6.) Mary Receives the Dead Body of Jesus in Her Arms
7.) The Burial of Jesus

The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has been practiced by many saints (among these, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Gabriel Possenti, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary), and is sanctioned by the Church. Many older churches have a "Pieta," or a depiction of the Sixth Sorrow, where Our Lady holds the Holy Corpse of Jesus (the most famous of these is Michaelangelo's). TAN Books prints an excellent booklet on this devotion that I highly recommend. We are brought closer to Our Lord through this meditation on His Mother's sorrows.

Mater Dolorosa, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Catholic Masterpieces II: "The Two Trinities"

[Updated on 18 February 2009 to fix inactive image.]

It's time for the second installment of my blog's feature, Catholic Masterpieces.

This week, I decided to feature a painting that I saw last month in the National Gallery, which is in London. The National Gallery is also the home of the Wilton Diptych, which I featured as my first Catholic Masterpiece. I forgot to mention that fact in my post about it. I don't remember actually seeing the Diptych, since I was in a sleep-deprived and jet-lagged state when I visited the Gallery with a friend of mine, who now lives over in England. But I do distinctly remember seeing this week's Catholic Masterpiece, which is titled The Two Trinities.

The Two Trinities was painted by a Spanish artist named Bartolome Esteban Murillo in the second half of the seventeenth century. Murillo lived in the city of Seville, and painted for religious communities and churches there. He is also known for his depictions of Mary and the Christ Child.

The Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is shown in the vertical axis of the painting. God The Father is at the top of the painting, "floating" in the clouds and surrounded by angels. He looks down upon His Son, who is depicted as a Child, and is flanked by His Mother Mary and His foster father, St. Joseph. The Child Jesus holds their right hands. Between the Father and the Son is the Holy Ghost, which is symbolized in the traditional manner as a dove.

When I was browsing the various works of art in the National Gallery, I came upon this painting, and I was really touched. It really made an impression on me, even in my fatigued condition. The symbolism of this painting is rich. The Virgin Mary is looking toward her Son, and holds her left hand upwards, as if she was presenting Jesus to us. This is consistent with the Catholic Church's teaching that the best way to Jesus is through His Mother. St. Joseph, who is my favorite saint after Our Lady, is the only figure to be "looking" at us. To me, his expression is one of loving sympathy for us who are in the vale of tears.

May the Holy Trinity have mercy on us, and may the Holy Family be the example of all families on earth.

(To browse some other painting by Murillo, go to Art Renewal.org)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Happy Columbus Day

Today is the traditional day on which Columbus Day is celebrated. On 12 October 1492, Columbus and his three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria "stumbled" upon the island which is now called San Salvador in the Bahamas.

As much as Columbus is under attack by so-called "multiculturalists" for starting the "occupation" of the Americas, there is one admirable side of the man that is often overlooked, and that is probably equally dispised by these Leftists. Columbus and many of his men were devout Catholics.

On Free Republic.com, I came across an article about Columbus that dates from the mid-1990s. An excerpt from another article was included on the article's discussion thread which detailed Columbus' "mystical side." Here are the key excerpts.

[F]ew know that Columbus prayed at a shrine in Spain called Guadalupe before setting off on his great journey. This was a spot where an ancient image of the Virgin had been hidden in the first centuries after the death of Christ and where she later appeared to a herdsman, telling him in 1326 to have the bishop dig up the image and build a chapel. It is believed that Columbus took a replica of the image with him on his first trip across the Atlantic, and when he arrived in the New World he named an island after Guadalupe (it is now spelled "Guadeloupe"), and soon after, the Virgin appeared to an Aztec Indian near Mexico City at a spot that was also named Guadalupe!

The devotion of Columbus was tangible. He named his ship after Christ's mother (the Santa Maria) and every night he and his crew sang the Hail Mary. According to his diary, Columbus, looking for the correct course, was guided at one critical point by a "marvelous branch of fire" that fell from the sky.

That was on September 15, 1492. Once across the Atlantic, this faithful son named the first island he came to "San Salvador" for the Savior and the second "Santa Maria de la Concepcion" for Mary, in addition to Guadeloupe and another island, Montserrat, named for another ancient apparition site near Barcelona.

Upon landfall Columbus and his men prayed the Salve Regina.

Thus, the first Christian prayer recited in the New World was an entreaty calling Mary the great advocate and Mother of God.

In response to this historical anecdote, a "Reformist" Christian called it "nonsense" (using a rougher word), claiming there was no such prayer and that "God has no mother." Oh, really? Whether this person knows so or not, this statement is a denial of the true divinity of Christ. By strongly rejecting the long-standing teaching of the one Church concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, one can end up regretting the logical end of such words. Catholics should be grateful to the Fathers of the Church, and specifically, those who met at the Council of Ephesus to declare Mary the Theotokos, literally "the Bearer of God," affirming that Mary is the mother of Jesus, in the hypostatic union of His two natures, both human and divine. Salve Regina!

My Title Picture

It's been over a week since I started my blog, and I haven't explained my title graphic yet!

It is a painting by Giovanni Battista Tieplo titled "The Immaculate Conception." It was painted in 1769, a year before the artist's death. I first saw it on the cover of the Fall 2002 issue of The Latin Mass Magazine. The magazine offers the following description of the painting.

The iconography of this painting is within the tradition accepted from the 17th century, chiefly in those paintings in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is pictured as an adult woman. She is represented as the new Eve coming to redeem the consequences of the former's sin. Her head is surrounded by a circular crown of stars - following the description of the Woman in the Apocalypse - while the Holy Ghost is shown as a dove, hovering in the air. Mary's figure dominates the scene, while retaining moderation and simplicity, surrounded by Cherubim who bestow mobility to the composition.

I chose this painting due to its beauty, and because it is the 150 anniversary year of the proclamation of the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Deo Gratias! Dominus Vincit, per Mariam, St. Pio (Pius) V, et Don Juan!

[Updated on 18 February 2009 to fix inactive images.]

Bartolomé Murillo's "The Virgin Presenting the Rosary
to St. Dominic", 1638-40

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. This commemoration was instituted by Pope St. Pius V, after the victory of the Holy League's fleet over the Ottoman Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto, which took place on this date in 1571. While this battle was raging in the sea off the coast of Greece, the Pope, along with thousands of faithful Catholics, prayed the Rosary, asking for Our Lady to intercede on the behalf of the Christian forces. After four hours of combat at sea, the Christian fleet emerged victorious. Pope St. Pius V had a vision of the battle, while he was meeting with some of his cardinals. He gave thanks to God for the victory, and the Pope, along with Catholics everywhere who heard of the Christian fleets triumph, credited Our Lady's intercession for granting this victory.

The Battle of Lepanto

In this time of Islamic terrorism, let us follow the example of Pope St. Pius V, and take up the Rosary, as a prayer to ask God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for His protection, and for leaders that will stand up and defend us.

To learn more about the Battle of Lepanto, go to the following links:

The Battle of Lepanto

Poem: G.K. Chesterton's Lepanto

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

St. Mary's Consecration on TV

On May 31st, 2003, the Solemn Consecration of St. Mary's Oratory in Wausau, WI was performed by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, who was then Bishop of La Crosse. EWTN will be showing a video the Institute of Christ the King, Soverieign Priest produced using footage taken at the consecration. Since the Institute offeres the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively, this consecration was done according to the the traditional Latin rite. It look like it was a beautiful ceremony and liturgy. I know two people who were present, and they said it was magnificent.

EWTN will be showing this hour-long presentation at the following times:

Wednesday October 6, 2004 10:00 PM

Saturday October 9, 2004 1:00 PM

Sunday October 10, 2004 10:00 AM

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My First Regular Feature: Catholic Masterpieces

[Updated on 18 February 2009 to fix inactive image.]

Thanks to all who have browsed my blog so far. I thought a bit about something that would make my blog unique in a way. I found my inspiration in two Catholic periodicals: Magnificat and Latin Mass Magazine. Both feature great works of Catholic art. Therefore, I will regularly post about Catholic art.

This week's Catholic Masterpiece is the Wilton Diptych. This wonderful piece of devotional art dates from late in the 14th century A.D. It depicts King Richard II of England, who ruled from 1377 to 1399, kneeling in front of the Virgin Mary, who hold the Child Jesus in her arms. Our Lady is surrounded by angels. Accompanying King Richard is his patron saint, John the Baptist, and two of his predecessors. The first one on the left is King Edmund of East Anglia, who was martyred for his faith in the 9th century A.D. He is recognized as a saint of the Catholic church. The second king is Saint Edward the Confessor, who was ruler of England before the Norman invasion of 1066.

One aspect of this diyptch that I haven't seen mentioned in what I have read about it is the symbolism of the three British kings. From my point-of-view, this can be seen as symbolic of the Adoration of the Magi, who visited Our Lord shortly after His birth.

Before the English "Reformation," England was known by the title, "Our Lady's Dowry." The origin of this term as another name for England may come from as far back as the time of King-Saint Edward the Confessor. However, the term's origin may have come as late as the reign of King Richard II, who was shown offering the orb of England to the Blessed Virgin Mary in a lost altarpiece that was once in Rome. The inscription with the altarpiece read, "This is your dowry, O holy Virgin, wherefore O Mary, may your rule over it."

I feature the Wilton Diptych as my first Catholic Masterpiece because I visited England a month ago. I will post about this trip soon.

Monday, October 04, 2004

A Little Bit About Myself

Before I start writing about more serious subjects, I thought I should introduce myself.

My name is Matthew. I am a 24 year old traditionalist Catholic in the United States of America. I grew up in the state of Delaware, but I now live in northern Virginia. I work in nearby Washington, DC for a conservative organization.

Ethnically speaking, I come from a mixed background. My dad is originally from the Phillipines. He came here in 1975, and married my mom in 1977. My maternal grandmother was born in what is now Poland, and was ethnically Polish. My maternal grandfather was half German and half mixed European, mainly Scot-Irish, and Cornish. So this makes me mixed. But I am 100% American.

I was baptized Catholic, shortly after my birth on 4 July 1980. My mom is a devout Catholic, and she, along with my father, taught me about our faith during my early years. I went to Catholic schools for most of my primary and secondary education. Even with this background, I didn't start the process of truly living my faith until the summer of 2002. I discovered the Divine Mercy devotion then, and as my prayer life became more devout, I was lead to traditionalist Catholicism. I attended my first Traditional Latin Mass in June 2003 at Old St. Mary's Church. It was a culture shock at first, but I quickly grew to love this liturgy. I now serve at the monthly Solemn High Mass, and sing with the Gregorian chant schola.

I will share more about myself as I get my blog started.

My Entrance Into the Blogdom

Yesterday, at Old St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Washington DC, I met the bloggers at Fiddleback Fever. I had a nice chat with them after the 9 am Missa Cantata there. I think they are a wonderful group of traditional Catholics.

They have inspired me to create my own blog. I want to thank Meredith (of Basia Me), Rob, Sheila, and John for their great work. Since I'm relatively new to this, this site is going to be under construction for a while. Please be patient while I figure this out.

I have called my blog "Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata," which is Latin for "Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin." This is the first part of an ejaculatory prayer written by Blessed Duns Scotus, the Franciscan theologian who who resolved the theological debate over the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The entire prayer goes, "Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos." The second part translates as, "Give me strength against thine enemies."

I will attempt to post at least once a week. Check back for further updates to this blog! Thanks for visiting!