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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 July 14, 2020

You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or...

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July 14

 

You cannot be
half a saint;
you must be a whole saint
or no saint at all.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’c...

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St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha, baptized Kateri, “The Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, and a captured, Christian Algonquin woman, Tagaskouita.

Between 1661 and 1663 a small pox epidemic afflicted Kateri’s tribe. Both her parents and her brother died, and though also contracting the disease, she survived though her face was left scared and her eyesight affected. She was adopted by a paternal aunt and her husband, a chief.

At seventeen the young Mohawk girl turned down an offer of marriage, and though pressed, still refused.

Under the influence of missionary priests introduced into her tribe after the Mohawks were defeated by the French, Kateri converted to Catholicism at eighteen, and was baptized when twenty. Members of her tribe were hostile to her by reason of her Faith, but she persevered.

The Jesuit missionaries described Tekakwitha as a modest girl who covered most of her head with a blanket because of her scars.

In 1677 Kateri moved to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada under the direction of Jesuit fathers where she found peace. There, she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance and the care of the sick and the aged.

Every morning, even in the bitterest cold, young Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’clock. Once inside, she attended every Mass, her greatest devotions being the Eucharist and Christ Crucified. She undertook severe penances, seeking to mortify her flesh so as to help her soul reach union with her beloved God.

In the Lent of 1680 friends noticed that Kateri was failing. She died on Wednesday of Holy Week around three o’clock. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love You.”

As she lay still in death, those around her noticed that her scars had disappeared and her face was white and beautiful.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21, 2012.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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