Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The past couple of weeks I have spent quite a bit of time talking with my family members, and emailing my sister in Massachusetts, and thinking, thinking, thinking, about where my mother can live, and how we are going to pay for it, and a million other things. She could live with me, but that would mean that she would be home alone most days, 40 miles away from her friends, and she doesn't want to do that, and I can understand why. She has visited a few "Senior Living" places, and now, if the sale of her house goes through, we have about a month to make our decisions and get her moved. I have to admit that it seems overwhelming, but I'm just trying to do the next thing.

While all this has been going on, I have been reading Wendell Berry's new (well, fairly new) book of short stories, A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership. In the story I am reading now Andy Catlett is telling about his grandparents' lives. He talks about the way harvest time used to be, with all the men working and his grandmother and the other women working all day to prepare mountains of food for the men. Then he speaks of the year when his grandmother was no longer strong enough to cook for the men.
And then there came a threshing day when Grandma, old and ill and without help, was not up to the task of cooking for the crew, and my father could see that she was not. He had taken time off from his law office to splice out Grandpa, who also was not equal to the day.  
"It's all right," my father said, comforting Grandma. "I'll take care of it."  
And he did take care of it, for he was a man who refused to be at a loss, and he was capable. He went and bought a great pile of ground beef and sacks-full of packaged buns. He fired up the kitchen stove and, overpowering Grandma's attempts to help, fried hamburgers enough, and more than enough, to feed the crew of hungry men and their retinue of hungry boys. It was adequate. It was even admirable, in its way, I could see that. But I could see also that something old and good was turning, or had turned, profoundly wrong. An old propriety had been offended. I could not have said this at the time, but I felt it, I felt it entirely. There was my father in the kitchen, cooking, not like any cook I had ever seen, but like himself, all concentration and haste, going at a big job that had to be done, nothing lovely about it.
As we move through this process with my mother, it seems to me that something has gone wrong. Recently, I spoke with a young woman who cared for her mother during her last illness. Sometimes, she bathed her mother and sometimes a nurse came to the house to do it. Her mother told her, "When you bathe me, I can tell you love me. You don't treat me like a disease." And I think that my mother will find a place to live, and it will be efficient, and she will probably be happy there. And when she gets sick, and things get difficult, and messy, and painful, I will have neither the burden nor the privilege of being there to take care of her. Someone will do it--maybe better than I could--but that person will be doing it for money and not for love.

So, this is how we do things now. I don't think I there is any other way at the present time, and more than that, it is what she wants to do. It will certainly be easier for me in many ways. But it makes me sad.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Prayer Request

We have a contract on my mother's house. She really needs to sell as soon as possible, and this was a good offer. Please pray, for her sake, that things go well.

On the other hand, I'm probably going to be REALLY busy for the next month if the sale goes through. I don't know how much time I'll have for writing.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday

Outside the insistent skies rumble, boom, lightening crashes.
   Inside, resting in our room the silence reigns, insists on being silent.
      We lie in the all but darkness, 
         pale light at the windows made paler still by pale blue curtains.

Later, as the storm abates, Bill in boots rescues drowned strawberries,
   I, walking barefoot on the porch, eat one as I hold the hanging baskets
      under the eaves to catch the runoff from the roof.

In early years, our home was silent, childless, as we awaited the promise of our lives.
   Who would we be? Where would we walk? Who would come to be with us?

Now, silent again, having found as much of the answer as we ever will,

   we await the persistent promise.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ is Risen, and Brings the Joy!

Gretchen Joanna linked to this lovely video on her blog, Gladsome Lights today. I can't embed it, but I think if you go to the link, you will be glad you did. You can find the English translation on her blog.

At this very moment, Bill is out buying me two trees that should eventually look very much like the ones in the video, which is very exciting.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Then Again, Sometimes in the Midst of Life . . .

you are in life.

There was a morning this week that was so beautiful here that I had a hard time making myself get in the car and go to work. There were birds singing--so many I wouldn't begin to guess how many--and it looked like this.

And that bush to the left, which I believe is bridal wreath spirea, looked like this.

And even my dogwood, which is the worst dogwood in the world and hardly blooms, was blooming. Too bad it's hard to see in the picture because of sun behind it. This morning when I left, the petals had begun to fall and my way out of the drive was strewn with petals.

And although the violets that were growing on the fallen tree stump were dying, some henbit had moved in.

I don't know about you, but I see a face in that tree. I am really enjoying watching life spring out of that dead tree. 

The henbit in this picture is washed out because of the sunlight. This is what henbit looks like.

Nine months ago, the yard was such a muddy, yucky mess--the grass obliterated by heavy machinery--the workmen's trash everywhere--pieces of what had been my home in the drive, on the walk, in the bushes, on the porch--I couldn't imagine that I could ever enjoying being there again. Now, all that is pretty much cleaned up or over grown, and I'm looking forward to planting some things this weekend.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I did want to say a word or two about the funeral, which was today. It was very sad. Aside from having lost two family members this month, there are two other brothers in wheelchairs with serious ailments, one was sitting in the aisle next to the mother, and the other was in the transept in front of her pew. It was heartbreaking to watch. Please pray for them. Also, I will tell you that if you are ever the lector at a funeral, don't make the mistake of looking at the family of the deceased right before you are supposed to read. 

Still, there was this.

I think today was the day I decided to die during Easter Week. How glorious to have this abundant symbol of resurrection at your funeral. It won't be this blurry, either.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Today I showed you the front yard. Tomorrow, I'm going to tell you about, and show you, the horror in the back yard.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

You Mean to Tell Me You Don't Go Anywhere?

A couple of days ago, I found this in my Facebook newsfeed.

I was just going to link to the picture, but I find it's already on about 6 billion websites, so I guess it's okay to post it here.

I thought it was mildly amusing, and just moved on to the next thing, but today I thought about it again. I was in church doing some work, and I could barely see the tabernacle for all the flowers on the altar, and I said, "I see you're playing peekaboo with me." Then I remembered this picture, and I started to think how that is exactly right. He doesn't go anyplace when He plays peekaboo with us. Of course, it doesn't often seem like a fun game to us, and we really feel as if He's gone away, but I know we'll laugh when He pulls that napkin off His head.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In the Midst of Life

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, a man came to the door of the parish office to set up a time to meet with us about his father's funeral. The man himself wasn't young, he was 6 years older than I, and he had to use a cane. It wasn't just for balance. It obviously caused him some pain to walk, but he didn't seem to let it bother him at all.

Most of us have had the experience of losing someone in our family, or someone we dearly love, to death. We suddenly find ourselves along with other family members in another place, a sort of anteroom to death. Our loved one has gone into the next room, and we're not going quite yet, but we can't go back to our everyday world, either. It doesn't matter where we go, we take our little limbo with us. We may be surrounded by other people, but no matter how glad we are to see them, and how kind they are, they are outside. They're going back to their jobs and their homes where things are more or less normal, and we have to wait out our confinement. And once or twice a month, a family moves their little waiting room into the conference room at our office.

Every family has its own way of dealing with death. Sometimes, there will be ten or more people in the room, squabbling over the songs and readings. Others are very quiet and want us to make all the decisions for them. Many times, people want to tell us about the deceased. Sometimes I feel quite fond of these people by the time they leave.

Junior, I'm going to call him that because he had the exact same name as his deceased father, was very upbeat. He told me he would talk my ear off if I gave him half a chance, and I did, and he did. His sister was quiet and seemed to want to just get through the day, but Junior wanted to tell us about his dad--and himself. Even though he was physically weak, he seemed to be bursting with life.

Yesterday when I got to work, as soon as I got in the building, my co-worker told me that Junior had died from a massive heart attack on Saturday. I was stunned. It's hard for me to imagine that radiant man dead. His funeral will be Friday, 18 days after his father's. The family wants everything to be the same as it was at the first funeral, so in a sense, Junior planned his own funeral. I was the lector then, so I will be the lector again. I think it's going to be hard.

One of the reasons I'm writing about this is because it has made me so aware that the person I am talking to at the moment might be gone tomorrow, and I think this is something I need to consider seriously. I'm not talking about the fact that I need to keep my own death in mind, which of course I do, but that I have to be aware of how important it is to be about my Father's business--to be aware of why that person I'm talking to has been sent into my life.

Most of you who are reading this have probably read C. S. Lewis's, The Weight of Glory, and are familiar with this quote:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
 How to do this? Of course, that is the question. Badly, might be the answer. But every morning (almost every morning) I pray that everyone who comes into contact with me somehow touches Jesus instead of me and that I will try to see Him in everyone.

To show you how easy this is for me, I was writing this post in my head on the way to the dentist office this morning and as soon as I walked in the door, I was miffed because the small waiting room was full, and because even though I had the first appointment I had to wait, and because some of the people were irritating. Still, I plod along. I tell myself, "Love those people. Love that woman who is texting on the interstate, love that inefficient waitress, that person who hurt your feelings, that man that comes to door asking for gas money who you KNOW is lying to you." Sometimes I can even do it.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Here is a Nice Thing

I am working on a post, and it is time for me to go to bed, and I can go to bed because I'm not committed to posting something tonight. I can't tell you what a relief this is. I'm so glad Lent is over, and I can get some sleep!


Saturday, April 19, 2014


Exsurrexi, et adhuc sum tecum 
 I rose up and am still with thee. Psalm 138:18

...Jesum quaeritis Nazarenum, crucifixum: surrexit, non est hic...
...Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here... Mark 16:6

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

St. John Chrysostom, Easter Homily

May you all have a very Blessed and Joyous Easter.


Holy Saturday

Et eduxit eos de tenebris et umbra mortis, et vincula eorum dirupit. 
And he brought them out of darkness, and the shadow of death; 
and broke their bonds in sunder. Psalm 106:14 redemisti nos Deo in sanguine tuo ex omni tribu, et lingua, et populo... 
...hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, 
and tongue, and people... Revelation 5:9

For some reason I don't think I ever noticed that poor sinner on the left being dragged back into hell, and the watcher in the top left corner. The joy and light on the right demands all your attention. Both Adam and Eve in this one, but only Adam in the one below.

You know, I never noticed that there is demon under the door before. I just perceived it as a crack. No wonder those other guys on the left are so scared--and some up in the top left corner, too.

If you haven't read this, you should. I think it's very important. When I started writing this blog, I had no intention of it's being so intentionally spiritual. I knew that would be part of the mix, but not such a very large part. But I am increasingly aware that there is nothing else that really matters, and there is certain, how can I say this, a certain pressure or encouragement to write these things. 

It's not that I think I won't ever write occasional mundane posts, but I think they will be the exception. I had a conversation with a friend a while back about how you have to write what you are given to write. I don't entirely mean given in a spiritual way, although that is a part of everything, but I also refer to the natural talent that you have been given and for me, this seems to be it. Of course, I think I also have a natural ability to make people laugh, and I miss writing things like that, so hopefully there will be more of that, too.

And I can't have Holy Saturday without this.

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."

From an Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday

Now we wait.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

As I did yesterday, I'm going to go ahead and post these pictures and then work on the post as the day progresses. The texts I'm using are from the Latin Vulgate, which is in most cases the same as that on the scrolls, and the Douay Rheims. Although most of the texts from the scrolls are only part of a verse, I haven't made any note of that. I just cite the verse the fragment comes from.

...percutient maxillam judicis Israel. 
...they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel. Micah 5:1

 ...unus assistens ministrorum dedit alapam Jesu, dicens: Sic respondes pontifici? of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: 
Answerest thou the high priest so? John 18:22

I've seen the above painting labelled as Jesus before Pilate, and that is a natural mistake since we are so used to thinking of the Passion in terms of the Stations of the Cross, and also, since most of us don't know Latin, that word, pontifici, is similar enough to Pontius to fool us. This, however, is Jesus before Caiaphas, high priest. The Old Testament verse from Micah immediately precedes a prophecy of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem

[Quoniam] ego in flagella paratus sum, et dolor meus in conspectu meo semper. 
[For] I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.Psalm 37:18

Tunc [ergo] apprehendit Pilatus Jesum, et flagellavit. 
Then [therefore], Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:1

A couple of things about the Old Testament scroll. It looks like it says Psalm 26 or possibly 27, but it is definitely Psalm 37. There is also a change in the text from dolor meus--my sorrow--to dolor tuo--your sorrow. 

...faciem meam non averti ab increpantibus et conspuentibus in me
 I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.Isaiah 50:6

...illudebant ei, caedentes. [64] Et velaverunt [eum, et percutiebant] faciem ejus
...mocked him, and struck him. 
[64] And they blindfolded [him, and smote] his face.Luke 22:63,64

Well I'm having a really hard time with this one. That Old Testament scroll has so many abbreviations in it that I can only determine one word for sure, and it's not Isaiah 5, so this will take more detective work than I have time to do now. As you can see, there is text omitted from the New Testament scroll so that it says blindfolded his face instead of blindfolded him and smote his face.

Aha! I have figured it out, as you can see above. I'm getting pretty good at decoding these abbreviations. The little thing that looks like the moon rising over the letters is an n and ib with a little mark over it is ibus and the thing that looks like a 7 is et.

Convent of San Marco, Cell 7

Can you imagine sleeping with this every night?

Convent of San Marco, Cell 28

Tamquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est. 
That's not Old Testament. That's definitely Acts 8:32
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. It is a reference, though to Isaiah 53:7:
He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.

Et bajulans sibi crucem exivit in eum, qui dicitur Calvariae.
And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary. John 19:17

Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea, et super vestem meam miserunt sortem. 
They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots. Psalm 21:19

diviserunt vestimenta ejus, sortem mittentes 
they divided his garments, casting lots; Matthew 27:35

Ipse autem vulneratus est propter iniquitates nostras, attritus est propter scelera nostra
But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins Isaiah 53:5

Et postquam venerunt in locum qui vocatur (dicitur) Calvariae, ibi crucifixerunt eum
And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there Luke 23:33

The Crucifixion, circa 1420, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion, perhaps St. Dominic's face is a self-portrait of Fra Angelico. This is in a corridor in the Convent of San Marco.

The Grand Crucifixion. I wish I could find a better image.

Descent from the Cross, San Marco

Descent from the Cross, again San Marco

Much to look at here. Off the top of my head, there's the self-portrait of Beato Angeli to the left of Jesus in blue. Also, Mary Magdalene in her customary position at the feet of Jesus. Also, I just read that the man on the right, dressed bluish gray, and with a red cap, sleeves and shoes, who is holding the crown of thorns and nails (You may have to click the picture once to see that.) is Pallo Strozzi, member of a rich Florentine banking family and patron of the arts, who commissioned this picture.

...ipsum gentes deprecabuntur, et erit sepulchrum ejus gloriosum.
...him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10

Joseph...corpus Jesu: [53] et depositum involvit sindone, et posuit eum in monumento 
 Joseph...begged the body of Jesus. [53] And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen,
and laid him in a sepulchre Luke 23:50-52


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

I'm going to start now, and go ahead and publish the post, but add more as the day progresses.

Jesus washes the feet of his apostles.

Lavamini, mundi estote; auferte malum cogitationum
Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices Isaiah 1:16

mittit aquam in pelvim, et cœpit lavare pedes discipulorum, et extergere linteo
he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them John 13:5

The text in the Vulgate, as you can see, is a bit different from that on the painting. I wonder where the one on the painting came from.


The Institution of the Eucharist?

Et agnum ejusdem anni immaculatum faciet holocaustum 
And he shall offer every day for a holocaust to the Lord, 
a lamb of the same year without blemish    Ezekiel 46:13

I wish I could find the bottom text.

Well, here it is.

As you can see, it's almost impossible to read, but I know it's from this scripture text.

...paraverunt pascha.Et cum facta esset hora dicubuit, et duodecim apostoli cum eo.
...made ready the pasch. And when the hour was come, he sat down, 
and the twelve apostles with him. Luke 22:13-14

The above picture has me really puzzled. "What, I wondered, is He blessing?" Is it bread? Then I enlarged it (you can do this by clicking once) and I think it must be an apostle. There seem to be a lot of Last Supper paintings with one of the apostles, (John?) sleeping on the table. Does anyone know anything about this?

...ego immolo vobis victimam grandem super montes Israel, ut comedatis carnem, et bibatis sanguinem.
I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: 
to eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:17
Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, habet vitam aeternam.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life. John 6:55

This fresco is in one of the monk cells in what used to Santissima Annunciata, and is now part of the Museo di San Marco. There are twelve apostles here. Some artists portray Judas as being there at the institution of the Eucharist, and some do not. I wonder if Judas is the very dark man kneeling on the right. And there is Mary on the left, and I don't suppose that well is visible through that door on the right for no reason.


Ne timeas, quia ego tecum sum; [ne declines, quia] ego Deus tuus: confortavi te. 
Fear not, for I am with thee: [turn not aside,] for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, 
Isaiah 41:10
Apparuit autem illi angelus de cælo, confortans eum.
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him. Luke 22.43

 Another fresco from a monk's cell. I love Martha and Mary awake and praying.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Mystic Wheel

When I first saw this image in the corner of one of the panels of the Armadio degli Argenti, I found it jarring. I didn't like it, or at least I didn't like it where it was. I didn't seem to fit with the rest of the paintings. It was too geometrical. To tell you the truth, I hadn't even looked at it beyond a mere glance, and had no idea what it was all about until I read this in Diane Cole Ahl's Fra Angelico
[The] over-arching theme was introduced with the Mystic Wheel, the first scene of the Silver Chest. The Mystic Wheel illustrates an apocalypic prophecy from Ezechiel and its interpretation by the sainted Pope Gregory the Great.... For St. Gregory, the prophet's celestial vision of the 'wheel within a wheel' (Ezechiel 1:15-21) prefigured the reciprocity between the two Testaments.
Ms. Ahl goes on to explain that St. Gregory saw the Old and New Testaments as a single entity with the New contained in the Old. And so we see the prophets of the New Testament in the inner wheel, and the prophets of the Old in the outer wheel. The Old encircled by the beginning of Genesis, and the New by John 1. Ezekiel is on the bottom left, crying out in the wilderness, and Gregory is on the right holding, I presume but am not sure, his commentary on Ezekiel. There are banners with their texts above them. So, this panel sets the pattern for all the rest of the paintings.

I wish I had time to write more about this, because I find it fascinating, but I just don't. My own copy of Ms. Ahl's book arrived today, and I plan to read it slowly, and maybe some time when I'm not getting everything ready for Holy Week at work, and trying to find my mother a place to live, and getting ready to feed twenty people on Sunday, I will have the opportunity to write something longer and more thoughtful. Most of this post is just a paraphrase of Ms. Ahl's work.

While looking around for the best images of the paintings, I found this on Wikipedia. The picture was taken inside Sanctissima Annuziata, which is now part of the Museo di San Marco in Florence, and I think it might actually be the Armadio. It's nothing like I imagined. There are many other works by Beato Angeli in this museum, so now there is another name on my list of places I have to go should I ever get to Europe.

Now onto the Triduum. 


Spy Wednesday

Because of today's Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25.

. . .qui edebat panes meos magnificavit super me subplantationem

...who ate my bread hath greatly supplanted me
                                                                                                Psalm 40:10

I can't find this rendering of Matthew 26:25, nor can I quite make out the Latin on the scroll, but it's the verse that reads, "Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?'”

More later.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking Backward~and Forward

I got home later than I expected and that gives me a perfect excuse to wait until tomorrow to write more about the Armadio, which is okay because this is what I really want to post tonight. This is a post from two years ago, and I decided I would just add to it instead of writing a new one on the same topic.

Early this morning the moon was full, which is how we know it's going to be Easter on Sunday, since it's the first full moon since the Spring equinox. My granddaughter took the picture below on Holy Thursday in 2012, on the way home from Mass, and it may have actually been a day early, but close enough. After this, I decided I would take a picture of this full moon every year.

The first full moon after the Vernal Equinox--2012
Ecclesiastical Full Moon
Paschal Full Moon

I took this next one in the early morning hours of Holy Thursday in 2013. It was March 28, and I was on a private retreat in French Camp Mississippi. 

The difference in size has more to do with the fact that I didn't enlarge this one than anything else.

I was excited about taking the picture for the third year, especially because the eclipse was going to make the moon look blood red, but alas, it was completely overcast here. We set the alarm for the middle of the night and my husband got up and looked, but no luck. When I got up a little after four this morning, however, I noticed light coming in the window, and sure enough, most of the clouds were gone,

It was cold last year on March 28, but nowhere near as cold as it was this morning on April 15.  I like this picture pretty well, but my granddaughter completely outdid me. Of course, she has a great camera and was in Arizona where the skies were clear.

And then, she's a much better photographer.

And then there's my Paschal Moon poem.

How to discern the Sunday on which falls
The feast on which our Saviour rose to life?
An ancient quandary leads us yet to strife
And disagreement unity forestalls.

The full moon past spring day when sun has crossed
The line that separates the south from north
Now causes separation to go forth
‘Til East and West the common feast have lost.

Which Moon is that Ecclesiastical?
Now Rome will look to Gregory to learn
The answer while the Orthodox will turn
To Julius to discern when this Moon’s full.

The Moon herself oblivious to blame
Reveals her face and does not feel the shame.


Photo credit: My granddaughter, Tessa Love, took the top picture from a moving car on the way home from church, and the bottom picture, also.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Armadio degli Argenti

In the 13th century, a monk by the name of Fra Bartolomeo was painting a picture of the Annunciation in the church of Santissima Annunziata, the motherhouse of the Servite order. Reportedly, he was unhappy with his portrayal of the Blessed Mother's head, and while he was sleeping, an angel came and finished the picture for him. This is the miraculous picture.

I would like to ask a few questions about this picture. I would especially like to know why the angel's arms are crossed, but I digress.

This miracle at Santissima Annunziata was soon followed by others attributed to the picture, and as the church became the center of a wide-spread devotion, the motherhouse became the recipient of many donations, including a great many silver devotional objects. This generous accumulation of silver required a suitable repository, thus the Armadio degli Argenti (silver chest). In keeping with the magnificence of the silver, Piero de'Medici, who had assumed patronage of the picture, commissioned Fra Angelico to paint a series of panels portraying the major events of the life of Christ for the shutters of the chest.

There were 35 panels (two of the panels are joined to make one image of the Last Judgement) painted by Fra Angelico and his assistants. The panels have been divided and rejoined since they were in the original silver chest, but I believe that this is how they are currently displayed. 

Unfortunately this is the only image of this last panel that I can find, and I can't find the either the Wedding Feast at Cana or the Baptism of Jesus elsewhere. I did find a bigger image of the Transfiguration, and I think it's evident that it must have definitely been done by an assistant, or later artist. It might be for the best that I can't find the other two.

That's about all the time I have tonight, so I'll leave the discussion of the over-arching theme until tomorrow.

As I said last night, my prime source of information is this wonderful book by Diane Cole Ahl, which I just ordered from Amazon and which will be much better than an Easter basket.

The story of the miraculous image of the Annunciation was found here.

And I also want to mention that although I have always loved the work of Fra Angelico, I never had heard of the Armadio until Angelico Nguyen posted some of the paintings on the Korrektive blog last Easter.