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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Saint Norbert and the Octave of Corpus Christi

Today is the feast of Saint Norbert. It also continues the “phantom octave” of Corpus Christi. Two days ago, I mentioned the concurrence of Saint Francis Caracciolo and the Feast of Corpus Christi. The day Saint Francis Caracciolo died was the eve of Corpus Christi (which begins at First Vespers on the eve). In life, he was particularly instrumental in promoting Eucharistic adoration, it being among the works … More →


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Three Versions of the ‘O Sacrum Convivium’

One of the problems with the 1962 liturgical reforms was the senseless suppression of the glorious Octave of Corpus Christi. The suppression of the Octave of the Epiphany is another. (There are many more!) We consider both of these, in a way, tragic. In an effort to continue the spirit of the Octave of Corpus Christi, and to do special honor to the Blessed Sacrament … More →


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Look! Beautiful New Statuary at Saint Benedict Center

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, six new statues, handmade in Peru, are now beautifying our sanctuary, lining up as an honor guard on either side of the Holy Trinity. These six saints are, after Our Lady and Saint Joseph, the patrons of our Order. Our Lady and Saint Joseph have side shrines with much larger statues. Beginning on the Gospel side top, we have … More →


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Father Václav Gunther Jacob: Bohemian, Benedictine, and Baroque

Searching for a recording of Ian Dismas Zelenka’s wonderful Missa Dei Filii (Mass of God the Son), I found myself continuously running across a work of the same name by another Bohemian composer of the Baroque era, Václav Gunther Jacob. I had never heard of him. Finally stopping to learn something about Zelenka’s fellow countryman and contemporary, I was thrilled to learn that Jacob was not only a Catholic priest, … More →


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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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Posted in Articles, Arts and Culture, Catholic America, Culture Wars, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

‘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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