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Where bad morals and ugly art meet

 

Take a deep breath. Sit down in a comfortable chair.  Avoid distractions. Ready?

 

image of the ugly art described in article

Now, take a good look at this picture on the right!

Don't immediately try to name it, or figure out what it is. That will come later.

For now, just allow the impression of this statue to enter your mind. Ponder it slowly for a moment or two. Don't rush it. (Pause)

Okay, now, what did you see? I really cannot imagine. But I can only tell you what I saw, if you have the patience to listen.

Well, to start with, I saw a trunk-like whitish piece of stone, faded in some areas, with a brass rounded cup on the top that seems to be spilling some liquid down the face of the object. About six feet tall. The background gives a faded stucco look, and the floor and wood sideboard are ultra modern.

Quite honestly, when I first saw it, I could not figure out what it was. Hhmmm, I thought, what could it be?

For a better insight into this object, I tried to find things that I knew that were similar or dissimilar, things that would afford me a frame of reference to understand this object.

Well, let's see -- a mummy? Debris from a construction site? An ancient coffin? A mistake? Spilt milk?

To save you some time and headache, I'll solve the riddle. This is supposed to be a statue of the Blessed Mother. That's right. The Holy Mother of God.

It is located at the chapel of Catholic Jesuit run Seattle University. And it is called Gratia Plena (Full of Grace).

It is made from one single slab of Cararra marble with some gold leafing.

According to the Seattle University website, Steven Heilmer, associate professor of art at Greenville College, in Greenville, Illinois, created the piece and said: "I wanted to take a life-sized block of Cararra marble and carve a flowing stream of milk."

If you and I are in anyway similar, to be told that this object is supposed to be a statue of Our Lady is a shock.

How different is this Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of FatimaIt's different than any statue of Our Lady I have ever seen.

But being different does not bother Fr. Jerry Cobb, S.J., chair of the committee from Seattle University that awarded the job to Heilmer. He said:

"This sculpture will console and challenge both believers and those struggling with their faith. It is a powerful contemporary image of the grace that Mary can be for college students and for our world today. It will provide one more reason for our neighbors and friends to visit campus for prayer and reflection."

Hhmmmm… let me read that again.

"It will provide one more reason for our neighbors and friends to visit campus for prayer and reflection."

Wow! Prayer and reflection... really?

Do you feel inspired to prayer and reflection by this statue? Inspired to prayer, no!

Inspired to reflection, yes! My reflection developed in the form of a question: how in the world did a Catholic Jesuit run University commission such a hideous piece of “sacred art?”

How does the faculty and student body accept this ugly statue as something good and holy?

Something is not right here. And this leads me to my next point: the link between morals and art.

 

Doctrine, morals and art – self portrait

It's is a well established fact that every society produces art that reflects its values, morals and beliefs. In turn, those same values, morals and beliefs are reinforced and passed on from one generation to another by the art they produce.

Therefore, it is logical to deduce that a Catholic institution of higher learning, such as Seattle University, would adorn its campus with art that reflects its moral values. Right?

Well, unfortunately, at Seattle University students are offered the option of interning for Planned Parenthood of Western Washington on its web site.

But there's more.  The Women Studies department at Seattle University encourages students to “get involved” with pro-abortion groups.

The Women Studies web page states:  “On the Seattle University Campus, in the Northwest, and across the Nation there are countless women's organizations for you to get involved with. Here are some links to help you get started.”

Under this “get involved” offer, students find pro-abortion groups such as the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and Legal Momentum.

In the field of morals, students are offered the option to join pro-abortion groups.

In the realm of sacred art, students are introduced to a marble slab wet with spilt milk as ‘Our Lady'.

Bad morals and ugly art are apparent at Seattle University. Coincidence? Or are they linked?

I think so.

In fact, due to the degree of free will involved in both moral behavior and art, it's not difficult to see how morals and art are deeply and inseparably linked.

The Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky wrote:

"Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions.1"

And Dr. Nanda Dimitrov wrote:

“Art forms do not merely reflect a society and its culture, but also heighten cultural integration by displaying and confirming the values that members of a society hold in common…The arts make dominant cultural themes visible, tangible and thus more real.2

In my opinion, the “Gratia Plena” statue (Full of Grace) is a visible, concrete expression of the pro-abortion culture at Seattle University.

What do you think?


Notes:

1. (From On the Spiritual in Art) [back to text]

2 (From Communication Between Cultures, by Larry A. Samovar, Richard E. Porter, Edwin R. McDaniel, page 33.) [back to text]

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

Click here to Order your free Miraculous Medal and Novena

Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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