Faces from Today in the Past and Freedom

My Son as the Wonderboy Lieutenant Colonel

My Son as the Wonderboy Lieutenant Colonel

    As a college student I really enjoyed my history assignments.  Being a photo guy, I of course dug deeply into my pictures, maps and diagrams.  In my senior year at West Point I watched my company pass in review on parade on my first personally acquired camera.  When I printed the photos I found myself looking at a present day image, which could be from the relatively distant past if were not for some modern building in the background. 

   I was soon looking at every historical image differently.  Every image of a battle, congressional debate, city street, factory or farm had me replacing the face of yesteryear with one of ours.  We could be those past people,  if it was not for an accident of historical timing.  This made me appreciate photography even more, and my own place in history.

    The event also made me remember a quote I heard from President Ronald Reagan a few years earlier:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

(From the Quotations Page)

    While our DNA will allow us to recreate moments as actors from the past with ease, certain important lessons such as the American concept of freedom only will be passed on and lived with through deliberate efforts.  Putting myself into the shoes of soldiers, statesmen, explorers, industrialists, farmers and my forefathers getting off the boat only made this lesson easier to understand.

-ehw

  

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The Cross and St. Joseph

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe...

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe…

     What can you learn from a man who says nothing in the entire Bible?  It turns out we can learn a great deal from his silent example and the symbols of his biblical and tradition based stories handed down from the Patriarchs.  For this reason he is a patron saint of my family and our little Blue Knight Evangelization club.

    St. Joseph was a carpenter, and it is this trade he passed down to his son.  Working with wood is one of the oldest traditions of mankind.  In the Garden of Eden we began this tradition of working with wood through the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.  Working with first gave us the fruit of unity with God, and the later one’s fruit planted inside us the seeds of pride to create our fallen world.

    The Tree of Life required no pruning or sacrifice to care for it or provide for our souls.  Once the world fell though, God needed to send his son to set things aright.  The job required Jesus to use the materials, tools and symbols we humans could grasp.  As partakers of the Tree of Knowledge we humans always look for God to symbolize rewards for good behavior by showing us the “land of milk and honey.” Overturning our fall from grace could not however come without sacrifice and correcting the pride from the fruits of Knowledge.

    So enter into this story a carpenter.  A man who sizes up a tree, cuts it down, cures it, and then crafts it with man made tools to provide necessities of life.  A carpenter will build tools, homes, carts, and hundreds of other items to ease our daily burdens to give us a better life.  Yes the carpenter kills a tree to provide us a better life.  It is the way of things in a fallen world.

    It was the carpenter St. Joseph who provided Jesus with the earthly skills and tool set to make the very cross he will carry to Calgary.  In the Jewish tradition it would be St. Joseph who introduced Jesus to earthly scripture (remember Jesus was there when they wrote it in the Trinity), apprenticed Jesus, brought up in the knowledge of Jewish ritual, taught Jesus the culture of the world he lived in when they went to market or met customers, and ensured Jesus had a sound domestic church with his wife Mary .  St. Joseph was responsible for introducing Christ to the complete earthly tool set needed to communicate with the world the message of salvation. 

    Being the faithful and obedient son, Christ learned his lessons well.  This is why Christ took the dead wood of the cross, a barren man formed tree as his greatest tool.  While the Romans saw it as a tool for a public belittlement of men to keep their earthly power over a population, Jesus had other ideas.  Jesus took the dead tree and used it to pass through to eternal life.  Through his death he obtained the glorification briefly glimpsed at the Transfiguration for all eternity.  In this act he corrected the error of Adam and Eve, and showed us our personal path to redemption.

    Through the works of a child, we get a glimpse of the qualities of the parents who raised them.  Although St. Joseph never said a word to us in the Bible, the impact he had a profound impact on the life of Jesus.  Looking for guidance in his example and patronage for our families can greatly advance our spiritual lives towards the Tree of Life.

-ehw

ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Please visit The Catholic Company to see more about this prayer.

In the Presence

     We Catholics witness today a sad turning point in out church history.  We are looking at a demographic cliff of dying churches, and a youth which overwhelmingly not staying home in the church.  The ability I had to swing into a local church for a Rosary, in a town not my own, in the presence of the Lord in Adoration may not be available to my children.  I saw today a glimpse of hope I  the church I visited today…one sixty plus parishioner, one 50 something, a 19-20 year old young man, and me Mr. Middle Aged man all sat together in the chapel.  This was an encouraging mix to be part of for a Rosary.

    On this trip I did find hope, as I met men living lives full of charitable work (done in God’s name not theirs) all searching for better understanding of God’s law.  It reminded me, even though in the course of human events matters may appear bleak…if we pray for and believe in the supernatural power of God we may yet be surprised in how the world can turn to hear his word again.  I know this does not avail me of my duties to evangelize, but it gives me faith to redouble my devotion and duty to live the word I deed.

-ehw

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