Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Ox, the Ass, & the First Manger Scene

December 20, 2017

In the year 1223 A.D., about two weeks before Christmas and three years before his death, St. Francis of Assisi shared an innovative idea with a beloved friend: “I want to do something that will recall the memory of that child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by.” With Pope Honorius III’s approval and his generous friend’s help everything was ready for Christmas Eve.

Blessed Thomas of Celano (writing just six years after) recounts the unveiling of that first manger scene, or crèche:

“With glad hearts, the men and women of that place prepared, according to their means, candles, and torches to light up that night which has illuminated all the days and years with its glittering star. Finally the holy man of God arrived and, finding everything prepared, saw it and rejoiced. … The manger is ready, hay is brought, the (live) ox and ass are led in. The brothers sing, discharging their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night echoes with jubilation. The holy man of God stands before the manger full of sighs, consumed by devotion, and filled with a marvelous joy. The holy man of God wears a deacon’s vestments, for he was indeed a deacon, and he sings the holy gospel with a sonorous voice. Then he preaches sweetly to the people standing about, telling them about the birth of the poor king and the little city of Bethlehem.”

The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth make no mention of an ox or donkey, but St. Francis included them in his scene because the duo had so commonly appeared in Christian imagery and writings since the Early Church.

Like the crucified thieves beside Jesus’ cross, this pair of creatures beside Jesus’ crib can represent two types of people in our world. Some respond to the birth of God among us like a donkey, with a foolish, stubborn resistance. But others, like an ox, humbly take the yoke of Christ upon their shoulders, learn from him, and produce a great harvest. Some attend Christmas Mass eager to leave early and without plans to soon return, like Judas Iscariot at the Last Supper. Yet Jesus calls us to attend to him week in and week out as his faithful oxen so that we may have peace in this world: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


The Cross of the Passion

March 15, 2017

A local parishioner has drawn upon the best available evidence to create this realistic sculpture of Jesus Christ on his Cross. Come to St. Wenceslaus in Eastman on Friday, March 24th at 7 PM to encounter this impressive, life-sized crucifix. Father Victor Feltes will speak about the historical sources on which this crucifix is based and lead some short devotions.

St. Ignatius’ 14 Rules for Spiritual Discernment & The Lord of the Rings

January 26, 2017

Please enjoy, and freely Like and Share this video.
My special thanks goes to Mary Walker for lending her voice to this project.

Mary, the World’s First Love

August 19, 2016

The Blessed Virgin Mary at Prayer    “When Whistler painted the picture of his mother, did he not have the image of her in his mind before he ever gathered his colors on his palette? If you could have preexisted your mother (not artistically, but really), would you not have made her the most perfect woman that ever lived—one so beautiful she would have been the sweet envy of all women, and one so gentle and so merciful that all other mothers would have sought to imitate her virtues? Why, then, should we think that God would do otherwise? When Whistler was complimented on the portrait of his mother, he said, “You know how it is; one tries to make one’s Mummy just as nice as he can.” When God became Man, He too, I believe, would make His Mother as nice as He could—and that would make her a perfect Mother.

She existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any mothers. She is the Mother of mothers — she is the world’s first love.”

—Venerable Fulton Sheen (1895–1979 A.D.)
in The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God

Holymon Go!

July 22, 2016

Can you catch sight of each of the following persons or things depicted in the interior of St. Wenceslaus Church?

  1. Our single depiction of St. John the Baptist.
  2. The two appearances of St. Joseph.
  3. The Holy Spirit twice in the form of a dove.
  4. The two depictions of the devil as a serpent.
  5. How many halos are surrounding holy heads?
  6. How many depictions of St. Mary are here?
  7. How many angels do we have?
  8. How many images of Jesus are in our church?

Holymon Go! Answers
(Highlight to reveal):

  1. Baptismal Font, St. Wenceslaus, Eastman, WIHis statue appears atop our Baptistery.
  2. His statue and in a stained-glass window.
  3. He has this likeness in two of our windows.
  4. Under Mary’s feet; in a window and a statue.
  5. Our stained-glass windows depict twenty-four halos.
  6. Ten. (5 in windows, 4 in stations, and 1 statue, not including her Immaculate Heart window.)
  7. Six. (4 tabernacle statues and 2 in windows.)
  8. Twenty-three. (14 stations, 5 windows, 2 statues, and 2 crucifixes, not including sanctuary images of his Sacred Heart or the Eucharist.)

Neat Things About “A Man For All Seasons”

August 21, 2014

“A Man For All Seasons” was 1966’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, and it is my all-time favorite movie. This YouTube video I made presents a number of interesting things you never knew about this wonderful film. I invite you to watch, “like,” and “share” it.


Metamorphosis: A True Story of Pain, Transformation, and Hope

January 20, 2014

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

In the United States, for every four babies born alive, there is one whose life is ended by abortion. (In other words, look around a room and divide the number of people by four–that’s how many people are missing.) What leads a woman to this terrible choice? How can God save a soul from the darkness?

Katie, a hometown friend of mine, whose post-abortive testimony became the subject of a 30-minute film, will be coming to speak in Sacred Heart’s parish hall in Wauzeka, Wisconsin at 7pm this Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

All are welcome, especially young people who are mature enough for themes of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion. If you cannot attend, the film can be viewed online.

Light Shines Through Them

October 10, 2013

St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia & St. Louis of France
Two of Our Stained Glass Saints

St. Wenceslaus StatueWe recently celebrated the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, our parish patron. In addition to our statue of him in the back of church, we can see the good king depicted in one of our beautiful stained glass windows. He holds a banner and a shield with his red eagle heraldry for he remains a spiritual leader and defender of his people. Do you know which other luminous saints are featured in our stained glass windows?

Next to St. Wenceslaus’ window stands another holy European monarch, St. Louis IX, the 13th century king of France. (This is the Louis that Missouri’s largest city is named after.) St. Louis was regarded as the first among equals by the kings and rulers of Europe, not only because he commanded the largest army and ruled the wealthiest kingdom, but also because of his admirable character.

Each day, Louis welcomed 13 guests from among the poor to dine with him, and a large number of poor were fed near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were provided a meal, with Louis himself often serving them. Throughout his kingdom, Louis founded hospitals, visited the sick, and kept lists of the needy, whom he assisted regularly. He chose St. Francis as his patron and imitated him in caring for lepers.

St. Louis of FranceWhen his kingdom came into possession of the believed Crown of Thorns, Louis carried the holy relic in procession barefooted. (This event is depicted in our window.) To house this and other relics connected to Christ’s Passion, Louis had the Gothic Sainte Chapelle built in Paris. It remains one of the most beautiful churches in the world.

Louis’ domestic reforms promoted justice. Before his reign, disputing parties could opt for a “trial by battle,” basically a court sanctioned and regulated duel. St. Louis replaced this with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. His personal reputation for fairness caused the rulers of Europe to choose him to arbitrate the quarrels between them.

Abroad, Louis led two unsuccessful crusades to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. In these campaigns more died from disease than battles, including Louis himself, at age 44. St. Louis was canonized 27 years later, making him France’s only canonized king. His feast day is August 25th.

Good King St. Louis, pray for us!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Hits

September 18, 2010

Today, the Parishable Items blog surpassed 10,000 hits.  In recent months, the visitor counts have been increasing exponentially. Are people flocking here for my preaching? Probably not.  I think it’s the pictures I’ve used to illustrate my posts. For example, internet search engine variations of the phrase “Solomon and the Queen of Sheba” have brought more than 350 people to the site; “Jesus (overlooking) Jerusalem,” over 190 hits. Below are what seems to be my three most popular images:

#3: Ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth, Greece

#2: Jesus Overlooking Jerusalem

#1: Solomon & the Queen of Sheba, Pleased to Meet Each Other