Category Archives: Arts and Culture
Arts and Culture
The term “art” covers a broad spectrum of creativity. In the absolute sense only God can “create,” because creation implies making something out of nothing. Man can imitate his Creator by being creative, however it is more accurate to say that man “produces” or “makes.” In “making” (faciendo) man must work with matter that already exists.
What does the word itself mean? The schoolmen define art as “the right method of producing,” (recta ratio factibilium) in contrast to ethics or morals, which is “the right way of acting, or doing.”
The arts can be visual, as in painting and sculpture; performing, as in music and dance; or literary, as in poetry. Nowadays the term is used in a much wider sense than in past centuries. The crafts, writing, film making, photography, and other media which exhibit what is beautiful, are all styled “art” today.
Culture, on the other hand, is specific and, usually, but not always, ethnic. Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary defines culture as “the personality of a society.” Notice he uses the broader term “society” rather than “race” or “people.” One cannot, therefore, speak of a “nation” as having a culture, because a nation is abstract; it is the people of a nation that produce a culture. Italy does not have a culture, but Italians do. And Italians certainly have subcultures within their generic culture, as Sicilians have personal characteristics far different than Florentines.
Cultures are not created, they are “cultivated.” And that maturation often takes centuries. Is there a “Catholic” culture? Most definitely, but it is not that of a people, but of a religion. The Incarnation of the Son of God, who was born into the Jewish culture, elevated all cultures. He who was not image able, became image able. Culture and art could now express that image ability in a thousand different ways. The best expressions make the matter that we all know, intuitively, as Catholic culture.
Lauda Sion Salvatorem is a sequence prescribed for the Roman Catholic Mass of Corpus Christi. It was written by St. Thomas Aquinas around 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV for the new Mass of this Feast, along with Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, Adoro te devote, and Verbum supernum prodiens, which are used in the Divine Office. The hymn tells of the institution of the Eucharist and clearly expresses the Catholic belief in transubstantiation. As with St. Thomas’ other three … More →
UCANews: Japan’s prohibition of Christianity began in the early 1600s and raged on for centuries. A painting of the Virgin Mary which is thought to date from the earliest days of this punitive era has finally – after a long and winding journey – found its way back to Japan. In a ceremony last month at Nagasaki’s Nakamachi Church, Father Georges Colomb, Superior General of the Foreign … More →
Several recent occurrences have put me to thinking about universities in particular and education in general. One was marching in the Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Cambridge, MA, in support of the Blessed Sacrament against the planned Black Mass at Harvard Memorial Hall, sponsored by Harvard Extension School — though not by the University per se. Two thousand people converged on Harvard Square, and … More →
For all you smart Catholics out there, who know all about the saints, we’re having a pop quiz today. Why is it appropriate, on this feast of Saint John Nepomucene, that the YouTube video of Bedřich Smetana’s Die Moldau (from his the symphonic cycle Má vlast) would be posted below? It would be cheating to read the Saint of the Day entry on him until you’ve made your answer … More →
Did you know that the great author of The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena, Sigrid Undset, is the only Catholic to have been depicted on a Norwegian banknote? See picture of the banknote here (scroll down) http://www.andrewcusack.com/2013/08/12/some-norwegian-catholics/ The following is a sketch of her adult life that I included in my book review of her magnificent biography of Saint Catherine. It was the best biography of … More →
What do you expect, really, from Hollywood? No, I have not seen the movie, but this reviewer, Barbara Nicolosi, writing for Patheos website has seen it. And, reading her review, one can see that she is obviously an experienced and liberal (in the good sense of the word) critic. I did see a made-for-TV movie about Noah and the flood back in 1999 with Jon … More →
On March 1, 2014 Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Brigittine Monastery “Our Lady of Consolation” in Amity, Oregon. The Mass was the crowning celebration of a three-day conference on Gregorian Chant and the role of sacred music in the liturgy. This is the same archbishop that has taken a … More →
(Crisis Magazine) The Common Corers get things exactly backwards. You do not read The Wind in the Willows so that you can gain some utilitarian skill for handling “text.” If anything, we want our children to gain a little bit of linguistic maturity so that they can read The Wind in the Willows. That is the aim. I want my college students to read Milton … More →
Father Leonard Feeney once remarked that certain Puritan sectaries refuse to pray the Hail Mary because the Catholic prayer has a bad word in it: womb. On the other hand, many of the Church’s most vociferous critics consider her to be obsessively strict — even fanatically so — on sexual matters. Puritanical (or Jansenistic) extremists on the one side, and libertines on the other, have … More →
The question posed by the title of this article was asked several of us by our august editor. Its immediacy is reinforced by the season of Christmas – which, despite being under sporadic attack by “holiday” partisans, centers on the one Holy Day still observed by the majority of the world. Despite the anti-Christian moral tone of many of “her” governments around the world, the … More →
Catholic News Service tribute: When he was a young boy, Richard Rossi insisted that his dad get general-admission tickets behind right field at old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh so he could be as close as possible to his boyhood idol, Roberto Clemente. The Hall of Fame outfielder’s passion for baseball, and Rossi’s passion for Clemente, continued as the Pirates moved to Three Rivers Stadium, where Pittsburgh … More →
This year, my High School religion course is covering, among other things, the Catholic doctrine concerning the Holy Ghost. Because I wanted to give my students a sense of how the rich heritage of Catholic art strives to express the orthodox Faith, I spent a few minutes in class showing them the Altarpiece of Boulbon. Dating from about the year 1450 and by an unknown … More →
Recently a future King of England, dressed in an open-collared shirt and without a jacket, slid behind the steering wheel of a car and drove his wife, new-born son and himself away from a maternity hospital in London. He drove, not a chauffeur or bodyguard. I couldn’t tell from the video I saw on You Tube what kind of car Prince William drove but it … More →
The Morgan Library & Museum, on Madison Avenue in New York, is hosting an exhibition called “Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art.” Here is the first paragraph of the Morgan Library’s description: When Christ changed bread and wine into his body and blood at the Last Supper, he instituted the Eucharist and established the central act of Christian worship. For medieval Christians, … More →
Patheos: If I had a time machine that could not only set me down not only in a particular date, but a particular place, I’d choose the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford on a Tuesday night in 1950 when C.S.Lewis was reading selections from his Chronicles of Narnia. He’d be there before a roaring fire with Tolkien and the other Inklings who gathered at … More →