Creating digital art

Jump over to 1:02 in the video, to see the artist’s work being evaluated by a creative director. That is all.

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S. Athanasius, the grand Copt

Saint Athanasius the Great

Fourth-century bishop of the church in Alexandria, Athanasius was very stubborn in his adherence to the Catholic faith, when all the world seemed to be taking on the Arian heresy. He survived much persecution and three banishments from his episcopal ministry, faithfully looking to Rome for his vindication and for the assistance of the Holy Father. To him I shall dedicate Psalm 43, a song in defence of tradition (the emphases my own):

We have heard with our ears, O God,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds thou didst perform in their days,
in the days of old:
thou with thy own hand didst drive out the nations,
but them thou didst plant;
thou didst afflict the peoples,
but them thou didst set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm give them victory;
but thy right hand, and thy arm,
and the light of thy countenance;
for thou didst delight in them.
Thou art my King and my God,
who ordainest victories for Jacob.
Through thee we push down our foes;
through thy name we tread down our assailants.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But thou hast saved us from our foes,
and hast put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to thy name for ever.
Yet thou hast cast us off and abased us,
and hast not gone out with our armies.
Thou hast made us turn back from the foe;
and our enemies have gotten spoil.
Thou hast made us like sheep for slaughter,
and hast scattered us among the nations.
Thou hast sold thy people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
Thou hast made us the taunt of our neighbours,
the derision and scorn of those about us.
Thou hast made us a byword among the nations,
a laughing-stock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face,
at the words of the taunters and revilers,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten thee,
or been false to thy covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from thy way,
that thou shouldst have broken us in the place of jackals,
and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
or spread forth our hands to a strange god,
would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Nay, for thy sake we are slain all the day long,
and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rouse thyself! Why sleepest thou, O Lord?
Awake! Do not cast us off for ever!
Why dost thou hide thy face?
Why dost thou forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our body cleaves to the ground.
Rise up, come to our help!
Deliver us for the sake of thy steadfast love!

text source

Do we really understand the role of Our Lady in the economy of salvation?

April 8, 2017 Leave a comment

image source

The Gospels give us these famous words of the Lord from the Cross, asking clemency for those who do not understand what the import of their sins is, what consequences they bring. But we do not always remember that Our Blessed Lady stood there beside the Cross, watching her Son die, and her prayer was probably the same: ‘Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ It has been the sense of the Faithful for long centuries that the graces of God come to us through Mary, not as through a mediator, not interrupted in any way, but as through a gate. Thus we call to her in the famous litany of Loreto, Gate of Heaven and Refuge of Sinners… do not forget the Lady. Powerful she is among the creatures of God, queen Mother of the most High King. May she pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Here is the famous prayer Sub tuum praesidium, sung. An English translation is below.

“We fly to thy patronage,
O holy Mother of God;

despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.”

text source

The robins are out, singing. Always a treat.

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

I was looking through the science section of the city library the other day…

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

…and found a nice DK book on astronomy. I’ve been interested in astronomy since my A-level in that subject, so I’m having a good time nosing through the book. One of the things I try to tell Catholics is that they should continue always to wonder at the elements of creation that lay all around us, that we so often take for granted. The heavens are one of those things and a spectacular picture they make. When you use a steady pair of binoculars or perhaps a small telescope. Here is psalm 146 (147) from our Bibles (RSV):

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars,
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our LORD, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The LORD lifts up the downtrodden,
he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God upon the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds,
he prepares rain for the earth,
he makes grass grow upon the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens which cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man;
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

text source

Meanwhile, here’s a nice picture of a group of stars in the constellation of Perseus, located on the handle of his sword. It’s not my picture, of course, so go to the link below it for more information:

image source

Psalm 42: Iudica me, Deus

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the most beautiful psalms in our book of Psalms. You may have it as Psalm 43 (Hebrew numbering; the Catholic Bibles often use the Greek numbering) in your copy of the Bible. This psalm seems to have a particular meaning for the priests of the Old Covenant and it certainly does so for the priests of the New Covenant. Here is the English from the RSV:

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from deceitful and unjust men
deliver me!
For thou art the God in whom I take refuge;
why hast thou cast me off?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh send out thy light and thy truth;
let them lead me,
let them bring me to thy holy hill
and to thy dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise thee with the lyre,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

text source

The book of Jeremiah always sets me a trembling…

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s not just that the beginning of it is often used to discuss personal vocations, and I’ve had a great deal of that during seminary years, but it is just a powerful and historical text about a lone priestly voice calling in distress and quite abandoned. The writer wants to precisely locate the ministry of Jeremiah, a prophet who survived his worse predictions, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish identity of the region surrounding it. Jeremiah was a priest, son of Hilkiah, working in the land of Benjamin, and his kings in Judah were successively Josiah son-of-Amon and Jehoiakim son-of-Josiah (short reign, carried off to Babylon and died in exile) and Zedekiah son-of-Josiah (last king of Judah, blinded and led into exile in Babylon). See this Wikipaedia link. We don’t know Jeremiah’s end for certain, but his legacy is both his prophecies and the reference he repeatedly makes to a restoration of the ruined kingdom of Judah, the kingdom of Israel to the north already having been destroyed. Here is Jeremiah, sitting in the heights of the Sixtine Chapel in Rome:

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Back to his prophecy. It starts to become very important in this portion of the Church’s year, the so-called Passion weeks, starting from this last Sunday (the fifth of Lent) and ending with Good Friday. I’m looking at my copy of the Catholic RSV, with its labels. In chapter one, we have Jeremiah’s famous call to mission: he has the unenviable task of warning Jerusalem of her upcoming doom and calling her to repentance. In chapter two, God accuses his people of adultery – that is, of breaking the covenant he had made with them. The accusation of adultery comes to a head at the beginning of chapter three, but the merciful God begs them to return and then come the prophecies of the coming-together of the broken nation (Judah and Israel its splinters). In chapter four, the threat of the invasion of Judah and Jerusalem is outlined and chapter five shows how much the people had thrown off their ancient religion. The situation seems apparently beyond remedy for judgement is night and chapter eight, nine and ten are a prolonged lament for the dying nation and her attachment to idolatry. When Jeremiah makes some complaint in chapters twelve and fifteen, God promises to restore the people and the nation.

Such bitter news is hardly well received and Jeremiah’s persecution is hinted at at the end of chapter eighteen (famous for its appropriateness to Christ’s own persecution in these Passion days) and again in chapter twenty, when a priest called Pashhur son-of-Immer set upon him and had him put in stocks. When Jeremiah is released he promptly tells Pashhur that he has now been named Terror-on-all-sides by God and that the fall of the city to Babylon is inevitable. The king receives the news and the call to repentance at the end of chapter twenty-one and then the crown-princes in chapter twenty-two. The Christian prophecies arrive at the beginning of chapter twenty-three. The prophecy continues to flow and Jeremiah is threatened with death in chapter twenty-six by the priests and the false-prophets and is taken to the judgement seat by the New Gate of the Temple, but declared innocent of any crime. There is a leap between chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine, between the last years of the sovereignty of the nation of Judah and a letter sent by Jeremiah to the exiled Jews in Babylon. Chapter thirty-one continues a love-song of God to his people, with promises of renewal and restoration and particularly of a new covenant, very, very important.

We must not forget that not all the people had been carried off into exile in Babylon. Probably only those who could cause sedition in the new Babylonian province of Judah. This included, of course, the royal family of Judah, the nobility and an assortment of the Temple clergy. Jeremiah remained with the rest of the people in Jerusalem and his troubles did not end. More persecution followed and even imprisonment, as shown by chapters thirty-seven and thirty-eight. He prevents the surviving people from fleeing into Egypt in chapter forty-two, declaring that their presence in the land of Judah is essential to its future restoration. He seems also to wish to keep them from falling further into idolatry in Egypt, as suggested by chapter forty-four. The rest of the book declares the judgement of God against various surrounding nations: so Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Syria, Elam, Babylon herself. The last king of Judah, Zedekiah son-of-Josiah was less a king and more a governor, a puppet of the Babylonian Empire, running a vassal state. The moment he began to rebel against Babylon, the City was once more taken, the king was forced to watch his children die and was then blinded.

Now look at the Lamentations of Jeremiah, a prophet mostly rejected. This very short book usually follows the prophecy of Jeremiah. The Lamentations are worse still when you consider the pride of the people in their impregnable City and in their lasting inheritance, promised to their ancestors. Pride was the downfall of our race and it ever will be our greatest weakness and the primary tool of the enemy of our souls.