Blog

Displaying: 1 - 10 of 61

  |  

Show All

  |

[1]

2 3 4 5 6 Next

Our Lady of the New Advent The Gate of Heaven

December 14th, 2017

Our Lady of the New Advent  The Gate of Heaven

Our Lady of the New Advent : The Gate of Heaven
The commissioning of this icon of the Archdiocese of Denver by Cardinal Stafford in 1991, was, unbeknownst to me at the time, an Annunciation of not only the New Advent , but an entirely new life for me as well.
The Sisters of St Walburga’s Benedictine Abbey, in Virginia Dale, Colorado wrote one of the most beautiful, evocative and prophetic prayers I have ever read - to Our Lady of the New Advent in 1992, which you can read below. Her feastday is December 16th.
“ In 1 Corinthians 15 : 24-25 St Paul depicts the enemies of Christ as battling against Christ, reigning on high. In reality, however, these enemies are only able to persecute the members of Christ’s body still on earth. They battle against the Head, but can only inflict harm on the Body. A clear case is Acts 9: 4 f, where the risen Jesus states that Saul is persecuting him, whereas Saul was bent on the murder of the disciples of the Lord (v 1)
‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
And he said, who are you Lord?
And he said , I am Jesus ,whom you are persecuting...’
Saul persecuted Jesus in person when he persecutes the members of Jesus...
Does the same hold for Mary? Is there a similar (though not identical) unity between Mary and the Church as between Christ and his members? In speaking of Mary, the sacred writer would also have the church in mind. And, in parallel to the above passage concerning Christ, the battle of Satan would rage ( in Revelation 12) against the person of Mary, although in actuality affecting the Church on earth.”
The Woman Clothed With The Sun by Bernard Le Frois,SVD

Prayer To Our Lady of the New Advent ***
O Lady and Mother
of the One who was and is and is to come,
Dawn of the New Jerusalem,
we earnestly beseech you,
bring us by your intercession
so to live in love
that the Church, The Body of Christ ,
may stand in this world’s dark
as a fiery icon of the New Jerusalem.
We ask you to obtain for us this mercy
through Jesus Christ, your Son and Lord,
who lives and reigns
with the Father in the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen
(Composed by the Sisters of St Walburga Abbey)
Fr Bill McNichols
December 2017

St Andrew the First Called

November 29th, 2017

St Andrew the First Called

St Andrew the First Called
(for St. Andrew Christmas Novena - starts on 30 November)
“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
In which the Son of God was born of the
Most pure Virgin Mary,
At midnight, in Bethlehem,
In the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee
O my God, to hear my prayer, and
grant my desires, through the merits of
Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His
Blessed Mother . Amen”
This Novena is said to be at least 100 years old, and you feel it, the way it’s is written.
The mention of the piercing cold at midnight, really brings the “real” Christmas to you.
When I was a theology student in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1976-79) we had to take on some kind of outside apostolate or learning experience that would somehow, prepare us for the priesthood. I chose to work on a suicide hotline and walk in service called “The Samaritans” originally founded in London by an Episcopal priest. He was apparently a great counselor and people sat in his office waiting to talk with him. One day someone came in and said, “Its okay Father, I don’t need to talk, the lady sitting next to me in your office really helped me.” After that, he decided to train people to listen and speak with one another, that was the beginning of The Samaritans. In the training we were told that you cannot proselytize, you have to find something inside yourself that can reach the one on the other end. We could not use our last name, but if a person wanted to talk with you on your shift, they could ask for Bill 249 (my number). The great thing for me was listening to the other volunteers and the way they helped people, some were incredibly funny, some deeply serious - in other words, it’s the “real You” that heals. The worst nights of the year were all around the holidays. Everyone thinks that people are all having a “Currier and Ives” or a “Norman Rockwell Christmas,” and they alone, are in darkness and depression. One Christmas Eve I did an overnight and the phones rang non-stop from dark until the first glimpse of light on Christmas Day. But listen to the prayer, “...at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.” The prayer is to be said 15 times a day which you can break up by saying it 5 times in the morning, 5 times around noon, and 5 times at night.
Recently I read that Pope Francis asked priests to respect people’s devotions, and not get too intellectual or snobbish about simple longing- prayers from the heart.
This icon was a present to my great author-friend, Andrew Krivak from his wife Amelia.
I was really aware while painting (writing) the icon that it’s the Child Jesus (in icons called Christ Emmanuel) who is present above St Andrew, who was one of the first called by Jesus in the Gospel narrative...something to think about or contemplate in this Advent Season.
Abundant Blessings...........and I know the Child will call (is calling) you too!
“Unpleasant though it may be, the sense of personal sin is precisely that which keeps our sin from getting out of hand. It is quite painful at times, but it is a very great blessing because it is our one and only effective safeguard against our own proclivity for evil.
St Therese of Lisieux put it so nicely in her gentle way:
“If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.”
From “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil” 1983,
by M.Scott Peck, MD (1936-2005)
Fr Bill McNichols
Advent 2017

Holy Poet-Martyr St Robert Southwell and The Burning Babe

November 28th, 2017

Holy Poet-Martyr St Robert Southwell and The Burning Babe

Holy Poet-Martyr St Robert Southwell and The Burning Babe
In an essay on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, Roland Barthes, the brilliant writer of linguistics, comments that this small book which was long supposed to be of little literary value, is actually one which creates a whole new language. In its painstaking attention to sensory and contemplative detail, it is a school for writers and image makers. Many schools of prayer would warn the students about visions and the use of images. Luther and the Reformation cried out, “The ear, the ear alone is the Christian organ.” The Flemish and Spanish mystics would further caution against the praying imagination, pointing to the cloud of unknowing, the dazzling darkness, the void en route to God. Barthes claims that “...to these mistrustings of the image Ignatius responded with a radical imperialism of the image: product of the guided imagination, the image is the abiding material of the Exercises...It can be said that Ignatius takes as much trouble filling the spirit with images as the mystics (Christian and Buddhist) do in emptying them out ...” Enter, St Robert Southwell (1561-1595) poet, martyr, genius image-maker and gifted “graduate of the school of Ignatian Exercises.” He delights in turning a phrase to make us see a new side of the mystery he is contemplating; taking us by the hand into a scene to share in his amazement. For example, he takes a kind of Ignatian “aerial view” from the cosmos, over the Nativity of the Lord calling us to: “Behold, the Father is his daughter’s son. The bird that built the nest is hatched therein...Might feeble is, and Force doth faintly creep.” In a brief poem to the Child Jesus called “A Childe My Choyse” are found these beautiful, unforgettable lines: “First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.” Robert’s 19th century spiritual descendant, Gerard Manley Hopkins (the father of modern poetry) would later contemplate these lines and almost echo them in his poem “The Lantern Out of Doors” speaking also of the Savior as “...first, fast, last friend.” There is no one like St Robert. His poetry evolved from a somewhat stiff neo-classical style to a vivid,playful devotional praise of God. There is so much adoration in Robert. He loves and adores the Holy Family , the Child Jesus, the saints he sees closest to Jesus in the Gospels ,like Sts Peter and Mary Magdalen. Robert’s most famous poem, “The Burning Babe”actually anticipates the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by almost a hundred years. He has been termed a minor poet of the Elizabethan Renaissance, but I think this has more to do with his pure and devotional subject matter than with his gifts as a poet. The English poet and dramatist, Ben Jonson said he would have given anything to have written “The Burning Babe,” and there is scholarly talk of Robert Southwell’s influence on the art of William Shakespeare. Robert was betrayed by a family friend , Anne Bellamy, and captured in June of 1592 by the sadistic monster, Richard Topcliffe who led him, bound in chains, to his residence next to the Gatehouse prison at Westminster , where he had his private torture chamber. On February 21 , 1595 Robert was taken to Tyburn to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The crowd was hushed and reverent as he prayed three times including a prayer for England and Queen Elizabeth. He begged Our Lady and all the saints and angels to intercede for him, ending with Jesus last words, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” The cart that he was standing on slowly pulled away and left Robert hanging. Ordinarily prisoners were taken down while still alive and then dismembered. As the hangman moved to take him down the crowd growled, “He prayed for the Queen!” Then, mercifully the hangman pulled his legs breaking his neck. The long years of horrific suffering came to an end. Afterwards his heart was said to have leaped from his body at the touch of the knife.
His head was cut off and placed on a spike on London Bridge; his body cut into four parts and exhibited around the city as a warning. It is said that two collections of Roberts devotional poems fell into the hands of Elizabeth after his death; upon encountering his beautiful soul in the poems, she deeply regretted his murder. Tragically, three hundred Protestants were also murdered under Elizabeth’s sister, Queen Mary. St Robert Southwell, along with Edmund Campion, Margaret Clitherow and forty other English and Welsh martyrs, out of three hundred Catholics, were canonized by Pope Paul IV in 1970. Their feast is December 1st.
Fr Bill McNichols
27 November 2017
In his 2014 Christmas CD “If On A Winter’s Night” - the British singer-songwriter Sting put St Robert Southwell’s poem “The Burning Babe” to music.

Christ the King The Bridegroom

November 21st, 2017

Christ the King  The Bridegroom

Christ the King : The Bridegroom
(O Nymphios - in Greek)
“The Lord comes out before the people, attired in the signs of his nonfulfilled kingship. In this nonfulfillment of his rule, his entire mission is contained. For if it had been fulfilled on earth, it would have been limited in space and time and thus would not be his mission...in all areas, he only made starts, only sowed beginnings...on some hearts, he engraved the sign of the Divine Always-More, the sign of what is unfulfillable in this world. To be a Christian means this: to close nothing off as completed, but to open oneself up into the always-more of the Son’s love for the Father...As the nonfulfilled and thus, for the world, the contemptible-he is displayed to all. In himself, he wants never to be fulfilled, but only to live in the ever-greater fullness of the Father. And thus he is presented to the world.”
Adrienne von Speyr
Commentary on the Gospel of St John, volume 4.
“Christ the Bridegroom is the central figure in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13); Christ is the divine Bridegroom of the Church as described in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 54, as well as the primary image of Bridegroom Matins. The title is suggestive of his divine presence and watchfulness, ‘Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night...’ “
Orthodoxwiki.org
As a child our familiy’s first parish home was Christ the King, and later, St John the Evangelist (now renamed Good Shepherd) and Mother of God Church-all three in Denver, Colorado. The theology of the Sisters of the Precious Blood who taught at Christ the King is very evident to me when I look back at one of my first drawings of the Crucifixion, “colored and drawn” at age 5. You can see it if you go to the “drawings, illustrations ,images” gallery on the website. Although the Crucified King is right there in that early drawing, I have to say my understanding of Him has grown over the years through the writings of William Stringfellow, Jim Douglass, Dan and Phil Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Pope Benedict and Adrienne von Speyr... to name just a few...as well as a host of scripture scholars. Listen to this: “...God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was a result of Israel’s rebellion against God...The law was to be Israel’s king, and through the law, God himself...God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The King is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself...The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines.” Pope Benedict XVI . The story the Pope refers to can be read in the Book of Samuel (1 Samuel 8:5-22). This is one of the most chilling passages in all of scripture, and lays bare our lust for nationalism and war. The people demand from the prophet a human king. Samuel is disgusted with their request and warns them, “...If you have a king he’ll make an army and take your sons. He will enslave your daughters, maidservants and manservants. He will take your property, your vineyards, your livestock.”...nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel...”we will have a king over us; that we may be like all the nations.” And the Lord said, “they have not rejected you Samuel, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them.” When a child (or adult) is Baptized the deacon or priest says I Baptize you as a priest, prophet and king (or queen). This is not just a quaint or complimentary designation, but the absolute truth. We are destined to be Kings and Queens in the only kingdom that will last forever, as we say in the Nicene Creed on Sunday’s , “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”
Here is a beautiful Orthodox exaposteilarion hymn from Holy Tuesday:
“I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior, but have no wedding garment that I may enter. O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul, and save me.”
Our desire to be with God even though we often feel unworthy, reminds me of the death of St Thomas More in the play/film “A Man For All Seasons” by Robert Bolt. More tells the executioner to do his duty because he will send More to God. Then Archbishop Cranmer says how can you be so sure? More replies because, “ He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him.”
Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday in the church year, this year, November 26. On the following Sunday, December 3 ,Advent begins...O Come, O Come Emmanuel...and Christ the King, the true Desire of All Nations.
Fr Bill McNichols
November 2017
For the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

The Non-Violent Cross and The Holy Cross of Talpa

November 8th, 2017

The Non-Violent Cross and The Holy Cross of Talpa

The Non-Violent Cross: and The Holy Cross of Talpa
I was twenty years old and a Jesuit Novice when I read the theological masterpiece by Jim Douglass, “The Non-Violent Cross”, at a very humble place called” Charboniere Villa” (an old, warm, charming and slightly broken down house with bunk beds) which was the Jesuit Novices’ villa. We went there for two weeks in the summer and most weekends during the year while we were imbibing St Ignatius’ Spirituality at St Stanislaus Seminary, formerly in Florissant, Missouri. This was for me during the years, 1968-1970.
I remember sitting on an old wooden chair reading by the window, on a very hot and humid summer day. As I read Jim’s understanding of the changes in Christianity, after Constantine (in the year 312) saw the vision in the sky of the Cross, and the now legendary words around the Cross, (in Greek but translated into Latin) “In hoc signo vinces-In this sign thou shalt conquer!” I could barely go on, I was stunned and fixed to my chair. This book was something completely new to me but also something I had intuitively known in my soul and body since early childhood. Jim basically says (and please read his book for yourselves ) that the Sign was the non-violent Cross. The very meaning of the Cross is non-violence...no retaliation, no vengeance, on and on...flowing from the Beatitudes of Jesus given in his Sermon on the Mount, in what the scripture scholar G.B. Caird, in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, calls Jesus “inaugural speech.” And in this book “Holy Theologian” Jim Douglass reminds us of the true meaning of the Sign, and warns us, that we’ve taken down the Cross in the sky and turned it into a sword ever since that vision given to Constantine.
Last night the young artist and filmmaker, Christopher Summa (“The Boy Who Found Gold”) emailed me an article printed from the Chicago Tribune “Why church shootings don’t intimidate the church”by Russel Moore. It overwhelmed me in the same spiritually enlightening way as my first encounter with Jim’s Douglass’ book. Mr Moore seems to me, to be saying that Christianity is Only enlivened by the Cross, and that the pompous triumphal christianity, we want because it is safe, yet numbing, leads to our personal and collective soul death. As St John says in the Apocalypse, “See, the Lion of Judah has conquered...then I saw a Lamb...” (Revelation 5:5,6)
“...For John looks for the Lion from the tribe of Judah and sees a Lamb.” (Page 74, G.B. Caird “The Revelation of St John.”)
The Cross I chose to illustrate this blog was commissioned by the deceased, and much beloved artist (d+2013) and my friend from Talpa (a small village within Taos) Charlie Strong. His widow Lyn B. Strong has been trying to find a church or “perfect home” for the 6ft Cross ever since the death of Charlie. It was made at his instruction with a small painting of Charlie and Lyn’s adobe home in Taos, modeled after the Ranchos de Taos Church,in the right panel near the body of Jesus. I decided to set the scene of the Cross in the Talpa night, using the Catholic symbolism of Mary as the Moon, the reflected light of the Sun...her son. I was very influenced by the gorgeous night paintings of Frederic Remington (1861-1909) and of course, the Italian master and teacher of Giotto, Cimabue (1240-1302).
This work, entitled “The Holy Cross of Talpa” was first shown in my exhibit at the Millicent Rogers Museum, “Silence in the Storm” in September 2008. It was a very difficult time for me personally so, in my mind the Cross shows and bears that difficulty in its essence. Because of that serious “discomfort,” I chose to place a small mandorla (almond shaped or egg shaped-form) with the hint of the Russian-Protecting-Icon, “She Who Reigns” hovering above Charlie and Lyn’s home in the night sky. This icon is said to have appeared right before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia telling the people that Jesus and the Mother of God were/are the true and only rulers of the Russian people. As we near the feast of Christ the King of the Universe, it’s a reminder for our entire world. I don’t pretend to have an answer for the daily shootings and murders we are living in now. But I do know people have lived through plagues, pandemics, natural disasters, mass murders and wars since the first murder in Scripture of Abel by his brother Cain. I always remember and have quoted this before in other writings, that Holy Prophet Daniel Berrigan would often say, “The first murder in the Bible was of a brother by a brother and it’s been that way ever since.” When Mr Russell wrote in his article about the true nature, meaning and comfort of Christianity returning or staying with the Cross, I felt awakened again out of numbness and helplessness. This is a great mystery and can only be found through meditating or contemplating the Cross of Jesus and it’s meaning for us today, right now as we wait for Thanksgiving, Christ the King, and moving gradually as “the Shekhinah “ (or as some people experience it-the spirit of Advent“) descends gently, palpably to earth for the brief four weeks of the Holy Season of Advent; into the Christmas Season.

Let me sum all this up with a quote from St Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)the founder of the women’s religious order the Daughters of Wisdom :
“Wisdom is the Cross, the Cross is wisdom.”

Fr Bill McNichols
November 2017

The Holy Souls - The Souls of The Just Are In the Hands of God -Wisdom 3

October 20th, 2017

The Holy Souls - The Souls of The Just Are In the Hands of God  -Wisdom 3

The Holy Souls : “The Souls of The Just Are In the Hands of God” -Wisdom 3
On April 27 2012 I was walking in the mountains with my friend and great Artist, Warren Kelly and his daughter Kaylie. I was gradually getting breathless, as if my life was a light dimmer - getting dimmer by the second- and mentioned that to Warren. He said “I hope it’s your breath and not your ticker.” At that point I knew it was my heart or ticker. I sat down and within a half hour I think, I was being flown to the Durango, Hospital in Colorado. They put me under and I was then flown to Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. My Doctor, the incredible Doctor Carl Lagerstrom, said when I arrived, on a one to ten scale my heart was a one. I woke up two weeks later partially hallucinating because I’d had nine drugs put in me, but my sister Mary remembers I told her my hero-doctor St Hildegard had been in the room. I don’t remember this, but after that time, well into recovery , I believed she brought me back to life. Since early childhood I’ve been aware of the Holy Souls or the Souls in Purgatory. In grade school we were told that on All Soul’s Day, November 2nd, we could save a soul by saying a set of prayers and going in and out of the church-for each set. I remember not wanting to go home because I thought I could help another soul. I’d love to write in great depth about the change in attitude toward death after Vatican II, but can only say a little...the vestments (for a funeral) went, literally, from black to white. The last church Requiem written for a Funeral Mass was Maurice Durufle’s Requiem (completed in 1948). The music is so tranquil, soft and beautiful it sounds like the soul is floating down a stream, lit like a candle inside a tiny boat . Compare it to Mozart or Verdi, and you’ll see what I mean. There have been requiems written since Durufle but not to be sung at a funeral mass, they are concert pieces. This awareness of the Souls at this time of the year is in many many cultures, for example the ancient Celtic Sawan or Samhain. I personally experience, this “season of the souls” lasts about a month, from October 15-November 15. It’s a time to “embrace” those who have gone be before us and pray for them. The Mexican culture’s Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead) celebrations are entering into more American cities each year. After Raymond Moody’s book “Life After Life” came out in 1975, attitudes toward death began to change rapidly. I am very fond of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s “On Life After Death” and Kenneth Ring’s “Lessons From the Light.” Now there are lots of books on this subject. And so , what is Purgatory? Is it in some ways similar to the Tibetan Toll Houses? Not being a Buddhist I can’t say for sure. But I put myself on a journey to find out what different cultures believed about life after death when I was a Hospice chaplain in NYC in the 80’s. Now I can say that because of many saints and church mystics I believe we ourselves choose Purgatory. The Austrian mystic Maria Simma (1915-2004 - the Church has not officially approved of her revelations yet, so it may not be for you) and St Padre Pio have a lot to say on this, and the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, is a very good start. But a quick explanation is that when we die there is so much we regret. Mostly withholding love and our human penchant for cruelty, vengeance and the belief we are right...at all costs. We all share in these sins against the unconditional love of God for us. We can also say an absolute no to God and choose Hell, and yet both Origen Adamantius (“rehabilitated” by von B) and Cardinal von Balthasar believed in an empty Hell at the end of time . So imagine the Light of God is so overwhelmingly filled with love that we can only take a little at a time. We feel we are not yet purified enough and we choose to be at a “safe” distance from this Light while still feeling it’s pulling us toward it. Meanwhile we wish we could go back to earth and clean up all the damage we’ve done, but it’s too late. So there is agony in knowing what we did and we can’t pray for or forgive ourselves. Those who have lived with us, and are still on earth, can pray for us and in Purgatory, apparently we feel these prayers like the most soothing balm. Then when the souls go into heaven completely, they never forget the help we gave them. This is why we say Mass for them, and pray the Rosary or any prayers that honestly do touch the Holy Souls. I am well aware this is way too brief but I know you can go on your own journey to look into our Catholic beliefs about Purgatory. I’ll close with an experience of St Gertrude the Great from Susan Tassone’s book “Day By Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.”
“One day St Gertrude was praying for the Holy Souls when Jesus admonished her for not praying with confident assurance, the faith and realized hope, that God hears and answers our prayers. He assured her: ‘It would not be past my justice to release those suffering souls for whom you are praying, immediately, if you pray with confidence for this petition.” Page 281
This image from the Book of Wisdom, chapter 3, was commissioned by my friend Fr Robert Fisher for All Souls Church in Denver, Colorado.
Fr Bill McNichols
“We’ve been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we’ve done
Tonight, tonight I just can’t rest
I’ve got this joy here inside my breast
To think that I did not forget that child
That Song of Bernadette...”
Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

St Francisco Marto - O Milagre de Fatima do Sol

October 10th, 2017

St Francisco Marto - O Milagre de Fatima do Sol

St Francisco Marto: "O Milagre de Fatima do Sol"
"I have declared from the beginning the former things; they went forth from my mouth and I made them known; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass, says the Lord. Because I knew that you were obstinate, your neck was an iron sinew and your brow was brass. Therefore I have declared things to come to you from of old; before they came to pass I announced them to you, so that you could not say, my idol has done them, and my graven image have commanded them...they are called into being now by the prophetic word...” Isaiah 48:3-7
My cousin Kathi Hart-Cooper and I became close around the time of her first communion October 28 1955. My Mom bought me a statue of Our Blessed Mother to give her as a present, but it was really because Mom had given me (her maiden name) the middle name of Hart that bonded us and we both felt we were more than cousins; I felt I was part Hart. It turns out we would talk almost everyday on the phone from that day until we graduated from high school. These were the days of a hand held phone with the cord running under your room so that both parents knew you were on the phone. And both Kathi and my parents used to say things like "What on earth do you have to say! You just talked yesterday or an hour ago!” We had no idea that we were learning to speak about and process our feelings. I think it kept us both sane through the traumatic years of grade school and high school. In those years I was being bullied continually (up until junior year in high school with an oasis in seventh and eight grade because we moved to a new school). Kathi had and has such a terrific sense of humor she could always make me laugh! I turned quite naturally (for guidance and help) to the child Martyrs of the Roman persecutions and to children like Jacinta and Francisco Marto who were victims of great persecution after they began to see Our Lady of Fatima beginning May 13, 1917. Kathi named her first son Geoff and her second son Billy, after me. This created another bond and Billy asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor, and so I painted/wrote him an icon of St Francisco Marto.
You can google the story of Fatima or rent a movie to see and hear the whole set of miraculous events. Before October of 1917 Our Lady told the children that on October 13 there would be a sign that no one could doubt and that St Joseph would come and bring peace. This is the source of the colors and symbolism of the icon “St Joseph Shadow of the Father.” When Joseph did appear in the sky that day he and the child were both wearing red and I have the child holding a dove (Holy Spirit) of Peace.
Over 40,000 to 100,000 people came to Fatima that day to witness a sign or mock the children if nothing happened. Around noon time it was raining, a cold front filled with freezing rain had moved across the continents from Siberia (this is better explained in Chris Summa’s film "The Boy Who Found Gold”) and it was cold and muddy. The people were getting so angry that the children had to be guarded by the police. Suddenly Lucia (one of the three children) pointed to the sky...
"As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendor. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent fire wheel that could be imagined, taking on all colors of the rainbow and sending forth multicolored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted about ten minutes. The immense multitude overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees.” Dr Manuel Formigao.
The sun suddenly came hurtling toward the people, and then just before it hit the earth, went back up into the sky. At that moment everyone thoroughly drenched by the rain, discovered instantly they were dry, and safe.
What was the sign of the falling sun about? Some have guessed a warning about a nuclear holocaust as experienced later in Hiroshima and Nagasaki...or one yet to come. Some have thought it was more like a falling meteorite, and some have no idea, but consider it serious enough to ponder with petitionary prayer.
"O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, Queen of the Rosary of Fatima!
Grant that we may follow the example of Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta, and of all who devote themselves to proclaiming the Gospel.
Thus we will follow all paths and everywhere make our pilgrim way; we will tear down all walls and cross every frontier, as we go to every periphery, to make known God’s justice and peace. In the joy of the Gospel, we will be the church robed in white, the whiteness washed in the blood of the Lamb, blood that today too is shed in the wars tearing our world apart. And so we will be, like you, an image of a column of light that illumines the ways of the world, making God known to all, making known to all that God exists, that God dwells in the midst of his people, yesterday, today and for all eternity...”
From Pope Francis prayer at Fatima -
12 May 2017
Pope Francis canonized Jacinta and
Francisco the next day, May 13.
Fr Bill McNichols for October 13, 2017

For St Francis Day The Epiphany - Wisemen Bring Gifts to the Child

October 2nd, 2017

For St Francis Day  The Epiphany - Wisemen Bring Gifts to the Child

For St Francis Day: "The Epiphany: Wisemen Bring Gifts to the Child" 1984
"... and St Lawrence the Deacon, led his persecutors looking for the wealth and treasures of the church to a house filled with the poor of Rome. He opened the door and said 'Here are the treasures of the church.' " Legend of St Lawrence
When I was living in Manhattan in the 1980's I was invited to show a "Son et Lumiere "
(sound and light) show I'd been commissioned to do in 1981 by St Joseph's Church in the West Village of NYC. The commission was to honor the 800th birthday of St Francis. There was a small house called the "Little Portion" (English for Porziuncola) founded by Friar Andre' Cirino, OFM, where the Third Order Members of St Francis would have gatherings. They heard about the slide show and invited me to bring it up to the Bronx. After visiting a few times I asked if I could join too. The decision had to be made in Rome, and in 1984 I was accepted. I spent many happy days and nights at the Little Portion and that year did my first painting for the Church....aimed like an arrow to elicit compassion, about people with AIDS. It was called "The Epiphany:Wisemen Bring Gifts to the Child." The Franciscans of NYC made this painting into a holy card and sent it round the world. I did hear later that in his memoir about AIDS, "Borrowed Time" the brilliant writer Paul Monette (1945-1995) referred to this card saying that all the Catholic Church is doing is sending out a holy card, but there were Catholic women and men giving their lives at that time for people with AIDS. This story has yet to be told. When I became an iconographer I painted/wrote an icon specifically for people with HIV/AIDS entitled "Mother of God Light In All Darkness."
There were two saints, in this first painting, I chose as the Wisemen, Sts.Francis and Aloysius bringing the first two men I met through my Hospice work in 1983, to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Santo Nino on her lap. It took six months to complete and was done in watercolor and gouache. Mary and Child were seated on a rainbow and crescent moon from the Book of Revelation. Beneath them are the waters of death we speak about in the funeral prayers, "In Baptism, your child received the Light of Christ. Scatter the darkness now and lead him/her over the waters of death." I had always been haunted by that exquisite song, "Clara, Clara," from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." It goes "Clara,Clara, don't you be downhearted! Clara, Clara, don't you be sad and lonesome! Jesus is walkin' on the waters, rise up and follow him home, O Lord, O my Jesus, rise up and follow him home, follow him home."So...to symbolize the footsteps of Jesus I have red vigil lite candles bobbing on the waters.
The symbols I chose for St Francis were wishbones falling from the Crown of Thorns, symbols of hope coming from the terrible sufferings. The symbols I chose for Aloysius, (often shown with a shaft of lilies,as with St Joseph a sign of his purity), were three lilies surrounded by fire to show most of us find this inner and outer virtue, through fire. This painting eventually led to my apprenticeship with the Russian American Master Iconographer, Friar Robert Lentz,OFM, because he saw it printed in a magazine and wrote me a rather funny letter, saying, "It looks like you're trying to do Icons you should come to New Mexico and study with me." The magazine never forwarded his letter but through the providential grace of God I eventually was led to ask for an apprenticeship, and then Robert told me about the letter. I think I explained this a little better in Christopher Summa's film "The Boy Who Found Gold."
Later I created a drawing to advertise a play at the Little Portion, called "The Flower in the Hand-The Story of St Francis and the Stigmata-A Love Story, A Love Song," by Roberta Nobleman. This was one of the most beautiful plays I have ever seen, based on the ancient Italian text "The Five Considerations on the Holy Stigmata." I finally made this hand into a painting you can view it under St Francis section on the website.
I never tire of telling people that when the Friars would wash the bandages covering St Francis' wounds, they would use the water mixed with his blood to heal sick animals and people. This is hope for us that our wounds can even now or eventually be used for the healing of others too. I believe most of our ancient and contemporary Prophets, who have been publicly mocked or martyred in various ways, prove that this is so...
"Dearest Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Poor and Oppressed
we watch full of reverence and joy as St Francis and St Aloysius bring the gifts of
these two people afflicted with AIDS to the Holy Child in your arms, who is so eager to receive them.
Teach us to find and embrace your Son Jesus in all peoples, but most especially those who are in greatest need and who suffer most.
Amen" (1984:NYC)
Fr Bill McNichols
October 2017

Holy Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ in Hiroshima with the Christ Child

September 25th, 2017

Holy Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ in Hiroshima with the Christ Child

Holy Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ in Hiroshima with the Christ Child
(For Arrupe College in Chicago)
"violets here and there
in the ruins
of my burnt house"
Shokyu-Ni
1713-1781

"a sparrows' nest
perhaps
inside the A-bomb dome"
Kinichi Sawaki
1919-2001

Dear Fr. Katsouros,
Here are some notes, not really a complete statement yet...a Beginning of my own understanding of what I was given to paint...but with the latest news these days I'm sure this is not all there is to say about nuclear weapons or war. We stand right now in a most dangerous place, again. In fact I may use this as a blog because we are still in the midst of an unresolved crisis.
I wanted to image Fr Arrupe in prayer in Japan but not the Iconic photograph that you always see and is as impossible to recreate in a better way-as is Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Shroud of Turin.
It is not well known that Fr Arrupe survived Hiroshima and the utter devastation. The swirling sun is a visual reference to the bomb and the prophetic miracle of the sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917. We don't know what that spinning sun meant...was it a meteorite, atom bomb, or some other danger of falling fire?
How do you depict that scene of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in a way that is redemptive and not just horrifying?
I found many photographs of the aftermath and one had a, Shinto Gate still standing.
This Torii Shinto Gate symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. This still standing gate is (to me) a miraculous sign that the sacred, of that ancient culture, had not been completely destroyed. There was also a head of a statue of Mary and a Church which was not completely destroyed, if I remember correctly Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the two greatest populations of Christians. But I wanted the visual emphasis on all the Japanese . So I also placed a Japanese looking ( (although he could be seen as "every child") Christ Child near to Fr Arrupe. He is wearing a traditional garb as I found in a picture I'll send you , with an Origami-like dove of the Holy Spirit on his chest... or coming from his heart . The colors most often used for Jesus are blue (divinity) over red (humanity) - here the red has faded into a salmon color and the blue is still vibrant . The Child is looking first at the horrendous scene around him on the ground....devastation everywhere. But beneath his feet, because he is "the resurrection and the life" small flowers or violets begin to sprout.
The letters above the Child are Japanese for "Jesus Christ" and the letters near Fr Arrupe are "Holy Priest Pedro." These were obtained from a friend who knows a Jesuit priest at Sophia University in Tokyo.
I feel this is all I can say now, when I began this icon the nuclear threat was not present and hopefully we will reflect on what has been and listen to the words of the Lost Child from the Gospel of Luke about "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's House?" (Luke 2:49) And maybe we will see the whole Earth as His House we are not permitted to destroy? For further contemplation you might look into Thomas Merton's poem "Original Child Bomb" , the name the Japanese gave to the bomb, which expresses a horrific new child and religion. The poem is written in a chilling bureaucratic style to awaken us from The Nightmare of God ( Daniel Berrigan's title for his commentary on The Book of Revelation) completely antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus. As I write this we still have time and Holy Hope...
Blessings with love and prayers to you and all faculty and students at Arrupe College,
Fr Bill
September 2017

Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge, OFM

September 10th, 2017

Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge, OFM

Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge, OFM
11 May 1933 - 11 September 2001
" A passion-bearer is one who faces his death in a Christ-like manner. Unlike martyrs, passion bearers are not explicitly killed for their Orthodox faith, though they hold to that faith with piety and true love of God."
orthodoxwiki.org
I met Mychal in the late 1980's when he showed up at our monthly Mass for People with AIDS at Our Lady of Guadalupe church on 14st. This was a church where both Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton would go to pray with the Mother of the Americas.
Sometimes after the Mass a group of men and women would go to a diner to get some dinner and Mychal would join us. I remember him as one of those people who had the gift of crossing every boundary Church or politics could imagine, and meet people as they were. I often compare him to Martin Sheen the actor and activist who is the same kind of person. He was very lovable, warm and had a real depth of faith attested to by his spiritual director Fr John McNeill. Mychal also carried an observable aura of sorrow around him, which really made him approachable to those who were feeling abandoned and lonely. I think personally, it's the same kind of gravity mixed with joy you see in many public "saints" like Pope Francis or Fr Jim Martin .I did not get a chance to spend much time with him because we were both so busy, something I now regret. What time we did spend is etched in my memory and soul forever. If you want to go deeper into Mychal's life so much is available on the internet.
This icon was commissioned by one of Mychal's closest friends , Brendan Fay. Brendan also co-produced the film on Mychal, "The Saint of 9/11" directed by Glen Holsten and narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.
The imagery of this icon comes basically from two sources:
First, the icon of The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God. Mary is depicted in these icons holding her own veil, which a few women mystics (i.e. Maria Valtorta) see as the veil she used to cover the nakedness of Christ after he was stripped right before he was nailed to the Cross. The tradition of the veil in these icons, is that Mary holds it over a church which is about to be attacked. Mychal, as the first labeled victim of the terrorism of that horrific day, holds the protecting veil to gather the thousands of souls coming to Heaven.
Second the inclusion of the lamenting figure of St Francis. I will never forget the drawing of St Francis weeping over his city San Francisco and the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk in 1978. It shows the power of art and sums up what many words cannot say. Mychal was a son of Francis and his holy father is nearby to gather the souls with him.
In these days of daily violence, verbal and physical, of ferocious hurricanes, fires, and frightening instability , we turn to the saint of 9/11 for holy protection. I'd like to offer you now his beautiful prayer:
"Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say, and
Keep me out of your way."
Fr Mychal Judge, OFM

Fr Bill McNichols
10 September 2017

 

Displaying: 1 - 10 of 61

  |  

Show All

  |

[1]

2 3 4 5 6 Next