March 1, 2010
A distraught woman collapses in grief over the news of the deaths of five family members. An image from Haiti? Yes, but she cries out from a work of art entitled “Crucifixion—Haiti,” created in 1997 by Helen David Brancato, I.H.M., in response to a photograph of a woman whose loved ones were among 400 victims of a ferry boat accident in that country. Sister Helen’s scene is painted on scrap wood, as if on wreckage from the sunken boat. In the painting, the woman’s open arms echo Christ’s...
November 24, 2008
Georges Rouault was 34 years old and barely recovered from a physical and nervous breakdown when he had a life-changing epiphany in 1905, which he described in a letter to his friend, édouard Schuré. While out walking one day, the artist happened to come across a “nomad caravan, parked by the roadside.” It was a circus, preparing for its next public performance. Rouault’s eye fell upon one of the figures: an “old clown sitting in a corner of his caravan in the process of mending his...
December 5, 2005
Members of the Society of Jesus are often accused of excessive pride in their order and its history. This can be a fair critique. Sometimes, for example, Jesuits speak as if St. Ignatius Loyola were the first Christian to discover prayer. Not long ago at a retreat house, I gave a talk about Ignatian spirituality, which prompted a Benedictine in the audience to say, with good nature, "You know, St. Benedict used to pray from time to time too! "But there are some things of which the Jesuits...
March 14, 2005
By any measure, it is a stunning achievement. Since 1998, the artist Donald Jackson has been diligently at work on the first handwritten, illuminated Bible since the invention of the printing press five centuries ago. Under the auspices of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., and The Liturgical Press, the first of seven volumes of Mr. Jackson’s masterwork, The Saint John’s Bible has just been published. The master artist boasts an impressive set of credentials, including “Senior Scribe...
February 14, 2005
The question put to me most frequently as an artist is, “How long did it take to paint that?” I suspect if you were to poll other artists, they might tell you the same thing. To me this fascination with time spent at the easel is curious. It also strikes me as a bit humorous, since the question is asked of a group of people, artists, who do not approach life in a linear, logical manner. Truth be told, I never have the vaguest notion of how long something takes to paint. Are we simply talking...
November 3, 2003
This book, Christ in the Margins , took shape on a red plastic tablecloth in a diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is where I met the artist Robert Lentz. The two of us spent hours sharing ideas to bring his vision to reality. Perhaps as we sat together, eyes shining, words tumbling...
October 6, 2003
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the election of John Paul II, we figured that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the only way to describe his pontificate briefly is with pictures. To see these photos, click here to display a PDF version of these pages in America .
A PDF file is easy to read using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available as a free download (if you dont have it already) at:...
June 23, 2003
You can see a wonderful golden tabernacle and monstrance by Egino Weinert in the Gaukirche of Paderborn in Germany. You can pray his Stations of the Cross in the parish church of Strassen in Luxembourg or at St. Vincent de Paul’s in Huntington Beach, Calif. You can admire his decorations at a college in Portugal or a chapel in Cairo. There are many examples of his work scattered throughout Scandinavia. But you can also get a very good sense of his style and spirituality by visiting The...
December 2, 2002
Some images are so powerful that, if we take time for them, they can alter our lives. The spirit hovering over the waters, the Lord who is our shepherd, the mountain on which every tear will be wiped away are such images, given us by the Jewish people and still nourishing us centuries later. Others come, abundantly, from the Gospel of God’s reconciling love for us in Christ, giving body to its words of life.
Images like these, from an exhibition entitled “Time to Hope,” were...
November 18, 2002
When I first saw prints from Louis Glanzman’s paintings of 12 women of the New Testament, something happened inside me. It was as if I suddenly recognized beloved sisters whom I had never seen before but knew in my heart. The paintings had a life of their own--unique, powerful and as real as any living woman. They rose from the prints and spoke to me. After a lifetime of knowing all about the women of the Gospels, I felt that at last I had actually met them. Indeed I had. They were women...