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.

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Lenten Music: Jan Dismas Zelenka’s ‘Miserere’

The Jesuit educated Czech Catholic composer Jan Zelenka, sometimes called the “Catholic Bach,”* is too little known. Worthy to be listed alongside his contemporaries, Bach, Händel, Vivaldi and Telemann, his music presents fine specimens of glorious Baroque counterpoint. Damian Thompson has an informative and entertaining piece on him in the U.K. Spectator that’s worth reading — complete, though it be, with Thompson’s personal eccentricities. And Robert … More →


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Lenten Music: Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere’

Below is the full version of the magnificent “Miserere mei, Deus” composed by the Catholic priest and Roman School composer, Father Gregorio Allegri (c. 1582-1652), and here brilliantly performed by the Choir of New College, Oxford. The Miserere is Psalm 50 (51), a penitential psalm that is sung daily as the first psalm of schema II in the office of Laudes during penitential seasons. It is very Lenten. (From DRBO.ORG.) Miserere. … More →


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A Raging Bull in the China Shop

Are some stories too harrowing or too intense to be turned into movies? Well, yes there are. Word comes to us that Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence is being turned into a motion picture. Endo’s story of a priest whose mind and will are all but crushed by a people who refuse to be swayed by the Catholic Faith is a veritable tsunami of despair. It is … More →

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Do You Know What Your Kid Is Studying in College?

Having recently completed a fun and enlightening read of Dr. Elizabeth Kantor’s Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature, then just happening on the article “Un-Donne: When Secular Students Confront Reverent Classics” by Joan Faust in the Winter edition of Academic Questions, the journal of the National Association of Scholars, I began to ask myself, what are they teaching kids these days in college, … More →

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Catholic Hollywood Actor Planning Film on Padre Pio

Independent Catholic News: Hollywood star Joe Mantegna has announced plans to make a film on the life of St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. The actor, best known for his roles in ‘The Three Amigos’ and ‘The Godfather Part III’ is working in collaboration with the St Pio Foundation. Mantegna and his production partner Danny Ramm will make the film through their company Acquaviva Productions and … More →

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Catholic Film Lauds Heroes and Martyrs of the War of the Vendée

Regina Magazine: “A friend suggested ‘Why don’t you do the War of the Vendée?’ Jim Morlino recounts. “And I said, ‘The what?’ I’d never heard the word; I had no idea what he was talking about. That was a period of history and an event that had escaped me.” The War of the Vendee (1793 to 1796) was an armed rebellion against the French Republican … More →

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G.F. Handel: Dixit Dominus

Doing some research for a series of classes I’m giving on Handel’s Messiah, I came across this fun fact on Wikipedia: In Italy Handel met librettist Antonio Salvi, with whom he later collaborated. Handel left for Rome and, since opera was (temporarily) banned in the Papal States, composed sacred music for the Roman clergy. His famous Dixit Dominus (1707) is from this era. He also … More →


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Vince Lombardi the Catholic

Very good tribute to a great man. On a personal note, someone I knew years ago was the quarterback for the same high school that gave Vince Lombardy his first coaching job in 1940. That was Saint Cecilia’s in Englewood New Jersey. My old friend played back in the late sixties. And, would you believe it? My friend’s name? Vince Lombardi. Derek Leaberry for The Remnant: … More →

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The Three Goods

What do people talk about? Apart from something current in the news, like Ebola at the moment of this writing, doubtless the favorite subject of most persons is themselves and their doings. This is so much the case that another favorite is criticizing anyone who won’t stop talking about himself long enough for others to get back to their favorite subject. After self, what gets … More →

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‘Without Tradition, We Are Cattle’

Rorate Caeli has posted a fine piece of Spanish counterrevolutionary writing from the pen of Juan Manuel de Prada. The author makes some of the same points I have tried to make here on Catholicism.org, notably in Traditionalism is an Affirmation and Catholic and Patriotic. Nothing pleases more those who wish to reduce us to a lonely crowd than to see us set up bison runs, … More →


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Dostoievsky’s Prince Myshkin, “The Idiot”

After reading together with my wife last night our Austrian friend Friedrich Romig’s carefully crafted and profound review of a 2013 book in German by Botho Strauss, we even started to consider, in light of Dostoievsky’s presentation of Prince Myshkin, a rather unexpected theme, namely (in my wife’s own words) “holiness as counterrevolution.” We also then continued—though it was very late in the evening—to talk … More →


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Lauda Sion Salvatórem

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 →


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Painting of Our Lady From 1600s Survived Persecution of Church in Japan

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 →

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What do Universities Teach?

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 →

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Pop Quiz on Saint John Nepomucene

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 →


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