(Above) Examples of calligraphy in the exhibition correspond more closely to traditional “Islamic” art.
We have seen that the glorious heritage of Catholic religious art, music and architecture has largely fallen to the care of secular institutions: The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick collection, the Pierpont Morgan Library – to name just a few in the New York area. After the Second Vatican Council, the Church itself repudiated this heritage along with the Traditional liturgy. Indeed, generally speaking, Church patronage of the arts all but ceased. Yet, certain institutions of the Church continue involvement with the arts – but more in the sense of importing outside developments into the Church or at least maintaining contact with the “art” patronized by the secular establishment.
Such are the Paulists, “whose mission statement is in part to ‘build bridges of respect and collaboration with people of other world religions.’” They have organized “the first exhibition ever of contemporary Islamic Art in a Catholic place of worship” at St Paul the Apostle church in New York. The “Islamic” art ( a hodgepodge of traditional Islamic calligraphy and Western modern ideas)is interspersed among three side chapels dedicated to Our Lady, St. Theresa and St. Agnes. Verbose descriptions of the exhibits are provided. Never mind that some of this art, to the extent it attempts to formulate some kind of spiritual vision, directly contradicts Christianity. So we read that the first man may have been androgynous. The coran is quoted for the proposition that the birth of Jesus was painful. Or syncretistic links are attempted, such as between the worship of Krishna and of Allah, or where an Islamic gate is juxtaposed with a nearby statue of the Virgin Mary. Note that the Church of St Paul the Apostle is not just employed as a secular exhibition space (as is often the case, for example, with the Cathedral of St John the Divine) but “the Islamic work (is placed)side by side with the permanent Christian frescoes and statuary, creating extraordinary visual and ideological dialogs between the two traditions’ expressions of faith.”
And of course the secular political agenda of Pope Francis and progressive Catholicism is on display as well:
“This exhibit derives its title (“Brothers and Sisters: Islamic Art/Christian Space” – SC) from Pope Francis’s visit to war-torn parts of Africa in November 2015, in which he told the warring Christian and Islamic factions that “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters.” Seeing tensions in the U.S. (and Europe) being exacerbated by political voices eager to spread dissent and distrust, Openings (an “artists’ collective” supported by the Paulists that organized this exhibition – SC) makes a proud statement of peace and solidarity among Americans of different faiths and backgrounds with this timely exhibition this election season.”
It’s very clear at whom this is aimed!
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) today, November 15 was the last day of the exhibition.
Source for quotes:Brothers and Sisters: Islamic Art/Christian Space
(Above and Below) Much of the art (including an “installation” – a video show) bears little or no resemblance to Moslem traditions. I am sure it would be well received in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.
Three exhibitions in New York City, modest in scale yet artistically of the highest importance, illustrate the breadth of Catholic influence in the arts in different nations and ages – as well as showing the effects of opposing religious movements.
First, the Pierpont Morgan Library has dedicated an exhibition to the reunited panels of the Triptych of Jan Crabbe, a masterpiece by Hans Memling (above). The side panels have always been special treasures of the Morgan Library; the center panel of the Crucifixion and the the two rear images of the Annunciation (not shown here) come from museums in Italy and Belgium. The donor was the abbot of a Cistercian monastery near Bruges.
The crucifixion is situated against the backdrop of an extraordinary detailed land- and cityscape, overshadowed by a threatening sky. But what most attracts our attention are the depictions of the donors and their patrons. In keeping with late medieval mysticism, they directly participate in the drama of the passion. In particular the left panel is unforgettable. The aged Anna Willemzoon (the mother of abbot Jan Crabbe) is a marvelous depiction of old age; her patroness, St. Anne, places her hand on her shoulder and gazes forthrightly at the viewer. Yes, this painting is a triumph of close observation of reality, but at the same time is bathed in a mystical calm.
The exhibition also features other paintings and drawings of that era which provide a context to the Crabbe triptych. An excellent catalog (Editor, John Marciari) gives much additional information about the paintings, the artist and the practice of art in 15th century Bruges. The exhibit lasts until January 8, 2017.
On Tuesday, November 15th, 7:00 pm at the Church of St. Thomas More (65 E 89th St.), Dutch scholar and curator at the Morgan Library & Museum, Ilona van Tuinen, will explore the hidden world revealed in this enchanting piece, as well as unravel the tangled tale of this sacred piece on the secular art market.(“Painted on the eve of the Reformation; dismembered and scattered on the art market: reunited in New York City”). Discussion will take place in the Rochester Room. For more information, see HERE.
A second exhibition currently at the Morgan is dedicated to Martin Luther and the Reformation. All kinds of curious objects are included: Tetzel’s treasure box for his indulgence money, a chasuble allegedly worn by Luther (after his breach with Rome). but the heart of the exhibit consists of books, pamphlets and other original printed witnesses of the Reformation. These documents witness to the essential differences that quickly emerged between Luther and his followers and the Catholic Church. A development that almost immediately blossomed into fanatic hatred of the the papacy, the Catholic Church and the mass. Pope Francis and his entourage and the Swedish Lutheran church recently have found very little remaining that divides them, but we can take this as the harmonious encounter of two groups of modern unbelievers. To apply these conclusions to the 16th century is an insult both to the Catholics of that age and Martin Luther and the early Protestants. They deeply believed in the positions they so vehemently asserted! What also becomes clear from this exhibition is that the rapid spread of Protestantism was directly connected with availability of new printing technology.
The exhibition also illustrates the impact of these titanic struggles on the arts. We discover some remarkable works created in the German Catholic world on the eve of the Reformation. A tender Madonna and child by Lucas Cranach – an image the artist repeated frequently for Catholic patrons even after he had become the main visual propagandist for Luther. Or the unique, extraordinary mystical image (above) of Christ and Mary ( The Virgin? Mary Magdalene?).
All this was to change in the Reformation. The exhibition claims that Luther was not personally opposed to the arts, but the spirit of the Reformation certainly called them into question. Art became increasing didactic in nature. There were widely circulated portraits of Luther and his wife – but they were also understood as statements again clerical celibacy. The attacks on the papal “Antichrist” in word and image grew wilder and wilder. (see below) The result was clear – Germany lost its formerly leading position in painting and sculpture for generations; only after 1600 did a modest revival commence. (Exhibit extends to January 22, 2017)
Finally, the Frick Museum is currently displaying an extraordinary example of Italian baroque art of around 1660: Guido Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene. (Above) Some aspects of Renaissance and baroque art are undoubtedly foreign to the Catholic “man in the street” of today: a voluptuous naked Magdalene, having cast off her meretricious finery, is directed by her sister Martha on the right path, while an angel drives out a demon and the courtesan’s servants flee in confusion. It all seems a mysterious, confusing tangle of bodies – dare we use the term “surreal?” Yet the Renaissance and Baroque ages loved such complex allegories. And this painting was not a fringe product but was commissioned in Vienna by the pious emperor Leopold of the German (Holy Roman) empire. Yes, Catholic religious art in its greatest ages had a most extraordinary range – perhaps too great for the sensibilities of modern piety! But in fact this painting reminded me of the efforts of certain modern artists who seek to revive “classical” and allegorical painting. (e.g. Leonard Porter, Michael Fuchs)
Description of the exhibit HERE. The painting will remain on display until January 22, 2017.
Sacred Music Workshop
Saturday, 19 November, 2016
Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church
37 South Ocean Ave., Freeport, New York
12:00 p.m. Sacred Music Workshop (bring your own lunch)
5:00 p.m. Sung Mass (Novus Ordo)
Join Dr. Jennifer Donelson (Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie) for an afternoon learning the chants for the Solemnity of Christ the King. We’ll cover reading Gregorian chant notation, an overview of chant rhythm, and the basics of how to direct and sing a beautifully shaped musical line. Practical sessions in singing will be supplemented by short talks on how we can see the mercy of God at work in the sacred music of the Church.
The afternoon will culminate in a sung Mass (novus ordo) for the Solemnity of Christ the King.
All are welcome, including beginners.
There is no charge for the workshop, but those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to Fr. Alessandro da Luz by calling (516) 378-0665, or emailing him at email@example.com.
The Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan will have its annual Forty Hours Devotion from Friday, October 28, 2016 through Sunday, October 30, 2016 with all-night adoration on Friday and Saturday.
The opening Mass will be this Friday, October 28 at 6PM. It will be a Votive Mass of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At the end of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed and there will be a solemn procession inside the church.
On Saturday, October 29 at 1PM (2nd day of the 40 hours), the traditional Votive Mass Pro Pace will be celebrated.
The closing Mass will be on Sunday, October 30 at 10:30AM, the Feast of Christ the King. This Mass will be celebrated coram Sanctissimo (with the Blessed Sacrament exposed during the Mass). At the end of this Mass, there will be another Procession of the Blessed Sacrament inside the church.
It was a wonderful honor for the St. Hugh of Cluny Society to have Fr Hunwicke as our guest in Norwalk and New York. Our thanks to Fr. Richard Cipolla, the pastor of St. Mary’s Norwalk, and Msgr. Donald Sakano, the pastor of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, for their assistance in making the visit and presentations possible. Our thanks, too, to the many others who helped out over the course of Fr. Hunwicke’s visit. On his blog, Fr. Hunwicke sends his own greetings:
“I decided I really had better nip over to New York and commune with Subleyras’ fine portrait of Benedict XIV in the Met … you would expect no less of me … and I have to tell you that His Holiness is not sanguine about the current state of the Church. But I will be able to give you more detail about that in the weeks ahead.
I took the opportunity to avail myself of the very great privilege of celebrating and preaching in the fine church at Norwalk in Connecticut over which a fellow Oxonian, Dr Richard Cipolla of Cardinal College, a hospitable host, presides to such splendid effect. It is most impressive; the liturgy runs like the smoothest clockwork and the Music is in the charge of the mighty, impeccable, and infallible David Hughes. I had the unusual experience of being congratulated by no fewer than two of my hearers on preaching a sermon full of Ciceronian praeteritio. You don’t often get that class of comment on this side of the water. One truly ‘traditional’ feature of the church is that, as part of the reredos of the High Altar, it has a newly painted picture of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which pictures the old and ecumenical muthoi about the events surrounding her Glorification; those stories which, to all intents and purposes, Papa Pacelli did rather prune away.
By the generous courtesy of the Society of S Hugh of Cluny, I was able to speak both in Norwalk and in New York, where I had the great joy of meeting a long-time and erudite friend: Professor Bill Tighe, who walks in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court as if he has never lived anywhere else, and who is the historical expert on the Demise of Anglicanism. And Professor John Rao, presiding genius of the Roman Forum … and, by the way, numbers are already looking very promising for next summer’s (Silver Jubilee!) Gardone Riviera colloquium. Get in there fast!! And I had the pleasure of meeting other Gardone friends, young and old; and of making new ones.”
(Above) Pope Benedict XIV by Pierre Subleyras (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
(Above) Fr. Hunwicke preaching at St. Mary’s: Don John of Austria
has set his people free!
At 7:00 PM Fr. Hunwicke spoke on whether a pope can abolish the Extraordinary Form. Rest assured: he cannot. Why? Because the role of the papacy is essentially to defend what has been handed down, not to create new dogma or new truths. And the Traditional Roman Rite, like the list of canonical books of the bible or the early creeds, is part of the most ancient Tradition of the Church.
For those who could not attend Fr. Hunwicke’s talk tonight he will be speaking again in New York on Tuesday, October 18th at 7:00 PM at Old St Patrick’s Cathedral (downstairs in the vestibule to the catacombs).
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LECTURE THIS EVENING, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16TH AT 7:00 PM, WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE BASEMENT (UNDERCROFT) OF ST. PATRICK’S OLD CATHEDRAL. THE ENTRANCE IS AT 264 MULBERRY STREET.