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.

‘Noah,’ a Pathetic Movie, Putting It Mildly

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 →

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Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample on the Traditional Mass

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 →

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Dr. Anthony Esolen on How Common Core Devalues Great Literature

(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 →

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Saint Agatha’s Breasts

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 →

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What Is Christendom?

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 →

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Baseball’s Catholic Hero Roberto Clemente, Movie-Maker’s Dream

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 →

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The Holy Ghost in Sight and Sound

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 →

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Signs of the Time

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 →

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Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art

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 →

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Father Longenecker on Tolkien’s Dislike for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia

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 →

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Mourning as an Act of Affirmation

In an unexpected way, my husband and I were recently led to a rather deep and deepening reflection on mourning (or mournfulness), and on its seeming incompatibility with human superficiality and human lukewarmness. We thereby also came to appreciate a new aspect or facet of the Parable (Matthew 5:3): “Blessed are they who mourn, for they themselves will be consoled.” (“Beati qui lugent, quoniam ipsi … More →

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NICAEA: An Epic Movie in the Making

(Randy Engel/RenewAmerica) Following in the tradition of Mel Gibson’s ground breaking masterpiece, The Passion of Christ, the film Nicaea promises to be the second in what I hope will be a growing trend in the cinematic presentations of the divine and human drama of the 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church. The Executive Producer and brainchild behind Nicaea is Catholic layman Charles Parlato, … More →

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Death, Beauty, Transformation

“Death,” wrote poet Wallace Stevens, “is the mother of beauty.” Without putting his line in context, how might we interpret it? One interpretation could be that men make beautiful things, paintings, music, poems, to sweeten life in the face of its inevitable end, which no man welcomes in the way he will beauty when he encounters it. That would make death the “mother of beauty,” … More →

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Baring, Dostoievski, and the Prevaricating Press

In 1927—some twenty-three years after the Menshevik Revolution and a decade after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—Maurice Baring published an anthology of his earlier writings, entitled What I Saw in Russia. Lenin had died in 1924, and Stalin was on the verge of securing his own rule, which was largely consolidated by 1928. Therefore, Baring chose to report on those earlier things he had observed … More →

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The Charity of Song

Saint Augustine famously said cantare amantis est, that is, “singing belongs to one who loves” (s. 336, 1 – PL 38, 1472). (Josef Pieper wrote a book on this, and Robert Hickson gave a talk on it.) Apparently, the Doctor of Grace did not say what is often attributed to him: qui cantat bene bis orat, “he who sings well prays twice.” Since the earliest … More →

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