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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 August 2, 2021

The state of grace is nothing other than purity, and it give...

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August 2

 

The state of grace is nothing other than purity,
and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it.
Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace
purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity,
exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults.
Purity will make saints of you!
Everything lies in this.

St. Peter Julian Eymard


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In 354 he was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the Emperor Constantius to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian disputes. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arians would have their way. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Saint Athanasius, who’s  refusal to tolerate Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions. Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after Eusebius undertook a four-day hunger strike. They soon resumed their harassment.

His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to return to his see in Vercelli. He died in 371.

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.