My understanding of Religious Art

      Over the last few years I found myself learning more and more of my faith…yet with each lesson I realized my understanding of faith is barely out of its infancy.  I can grasp a concept, but to know the precise details will escape me for many years to come.  I am not worried though, it just means each day I can explore a little more.  I also take heed of St Thomas Aquinas vision…what we understand and can percieve here can do no justice to what the reality of what the Divine Law really is.

    So if we can only see a glimpse of heaven in anything we think or create, I think religious art should reflect that.  Eastern Rite Catholic churches have incredible icons which follow this very basic premise.  What we see is not to be hyper realistic, but rather a starting point to enter the mystery presented.  From this entry point in meditation, you can explore the rest of the story and its application in your life and its journey towards heaven.

    Take this photo for example.  A hyper realistic photo here would draw no interest.  It was washed out, a simple statue in front of a church.  There was however much more to its story if you cared to look for it.  In the editing I found the amazing light and shadow contrast.  I vignetted the photo to draw the eyes into my message, I knew the subject matter was an angel or a messenger of God and it just fit.  I removed some color to make it timeless, since angels are timeless creatures.  The contrast of the man made wall and green plants made me think of the leading Rosary mystery of that Friday…Mary why do you look here in a tomb for the living?

    The scene before me became the pathway to a deeper meditation on something far bigger than I will ever be able to comprehend on earth through the creation of and review of Catholic religious art.  One added bonus in all of this was I needed to quiet my mind to the world’s distractions to see this.  In the silence, is where God can speak to our souls, and where we need to spend some of our time each day.  So I got my silence, my thought and my created art.

    This is what making and viewing Catholic religious art should do for you…at least from my little spot on this earth.

-ehw

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Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Size Family)

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

    Our current Western society praises itself on being rooted in control over nature through application of science and reason.  Nowhere is this more evident than through control and size of the family.  Embracing a large family is in fact the anti-thesis of control of nature.  Therefore any counter-cultural move away from strict family control sets off a firestorm of emotion, debate, and shunning to bring people back into the fold.

    The argument for a controlled size family is a logical outgrowth of the Enlightenment.  The penny sized description of this philosophy is:  If I can reason something out (logically order it through science) and I want to will it into being, the result I want to make can and should be as I want it to regardless of any historical or scientific obstacles.  While the goal of Enlightenment thinkers is good, to make the world a better place, it fails because it assumes all things are ordered according to a single person’s will.  

    In a precisely ordered world replacement level children would not be bad…it would simply ensure a stable society with Mom and Dad being replaced by their little children.  It assumes there is no war, famine, enjoyment of bountiful years, divorce, recurrence of the Spanish Flu, accidents, control of passion by all people, natural spoiling of children, or change of political order.  When in history has this ever happened?  If I apply a scientific method to the review of history against any one of these factors, much less a combination of two, I can say never with confidence.

    A view of family across all traditional cultures shows having a large nuclear family is a reward and sign of prosperity.  Large families can take a loss, as tragic as it might be, and still survive to another generation.  Families with large families embrace passion and reap the rewards with a 99% stability rate (i.e. no divorce) when using Natural Family Planning.  In large families where parents have all the children help each other natural selflessness arises.  Even economic science shows growing populations increase GDP, while stable and declining populations result in a loss of economic power despite automation.

    Yet just saying have a large family is also a poor scientific argument as well.  Many large families fail because they may be open to life, but fail in another basic component of success.  One has to look into the why behind successful families everywhere, and its origins.  These reasons come from observations in natural law, not man’s law.

    In Genesis we see man was not complete until he had a wife.  Together they were to be fruitful and multiply.  Proverbs tells us a man will have no fear to argue in the city gates when surrounded by his children.  Jesus tells men they must serve their families to the point of complete self sacrifice, and women must listen to their self sacrificing men.  (This addresses our greatest vices as men and women of power going to our heads, and sets the example for their children’s future relationships) Time and time again we also read throughout the Bible we all must look for the Lord’s direction, and build our world towards it.  Embracing these lessons points us towards successful family models.

    St John Paul II, in his masterful Theology of the Body, also reminds us men and women complete the other sex in marriage.  In the marital act we participate in renewing creation with God.  Acceptance and loving our resulting children then completes the family.  When viewed in its totality, this sets up an environment where family life can mimic the Biblical revelations of Natural Law.  This type of environment fosters good and minimize bad family effects we can see in the physical world around us, while moving from generation to generation.

    In the a few short words above I hope this lets you understand where I started on my journey towards embracing the title of this post: Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Sized Family) in today’s world.  This decision does not come without challenges, doubts and trials.  It is emblematic of real life, needing a constant renewal.  Nothing worth doing ever came without cost…and never will.  So be not afraid to look at the reality of the world, and use its very nature to form a better future according to the will of God revealed through nature.  I promise the experience will really ENLIGHTEN you!

-ehw

P.S. Besides where would I get my cute photos of family life from without this many kids?