Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Lucio & his sons- my host last visit
The people of Peru are known to be some of the most friendly in the world. They are also not known for their quiet demeanor, though I find the peoples of the highlands and mountains to be less boisterous and much more shy.

Piuranos are characterized by their witty minds, melancolic Tondero music and welcoming personalities. Like all Peruvians, they are heavy drinkers of chicha de jora, pisco or beer and all of them have a tendency towards creativity and art as their source of income.

Here are some photos of my favorites- family, friends and strangers met in travels and I hope on this trip to make many more friends..

Susana's three- my hostess this time
Woman spinning- on the way to Ayabaca
Lucio's wife Elena & Mamma
Dinner with Elena's family-Chiclayo

Abby- on the boat trip of a lifetime!
Prior & Father David OSB - Incarnation Monastery south of Lima

Jeremy's wonderful friends - Ayabaca (Mts.)
MH with Benedictine nuns of Sechura

Saturday, May 25, 2013


The Trinity- Ethiopian

Alcario Otero
TRINITY SUNDAY is a moveable feast celebrated a week after Pentecost Sunday in honor of the most fundamental of Christian beliefs- belief in the Holy Trinity. We can never fully understand the mystery of the Trinity, but we can sum it up in the following formula: God is three Persons in one Nature. The three Persons of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are all equally God, and They cannot be divided.

 As the Fourth Lateran Council declared, "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds". While distinct in their relations with one another, they are one in all else. The whole work of creation and grace is a single operation common to all three divine persons, who at the same time operate according to their unique properties, so that all things are from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The three persons are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial.

Trinity Sunday is celebrated in all the Western liturgical churches: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, most Presbyterians, Methodists, and many churches within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

It is one of the few feasts that are celebrated as a doctrine instead of an event. It is also symbolic of the unity of the Trinity.

Arturo Olivas
 St. Ignatius of Antioch (early Church Doctor and Martyr)  provides early support for the Trinity around 110, exhorting obedience to "Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit."

 Justin Martyr (AD 100–ca.165) also writes, "in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit." The first of the early church fathers recorded actually using the word Trinity was Theophilus of Antioch writing in the late 2nd century. He defines the Trinity as God, His Word (Logos) and His Wisdom (Sophia) in the context of a discussion of the first three days of creation. The first defense of the doctrine of the Trinity was in the early 3rd century by the early church father Tertullian. He explicitly defined the Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and defended the Trinitarian theology against the "Praxean" heresy.

The most famous image of the Blessed Trinity is the icon of the Trinity was painted around 1410 by Andrei Rublev. It depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre, but is often interpreted as an icon of the Trinity. It is sometimes called the icon of the Old Testament Trinity. Rublev is considered to be the
greatest medieval Russian painter of Orthodox icons and frescoes.

I arise today

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
        (from St. Patrick's Breastplate)

Friday, May 24, 2013


Madonna of Belen
As I prepare for my second trip to Northern Peru, I present some of the glorious art I will see in the lovely Churches there. This area does not have its own tradition of Church art, so most of what I will see is from another place to the south.

The Trinity with Saints
The most famous Catholic art in Peru period is from the Colonial period from the 16th to 18th Centuries. The Cuzco School is a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cuzco, Peru. The European influence in these paintings came from the Spanish who tried to convert the Incas to Catholicism.

Paintings are characterized by their exclusive use of religious images, lack of perspective, and the predominance of red, yellow, and earth colors. They also use a lot of gold leaf. The subjects are usually depicted in native flora and fauna as a backdrop, the most common is of the Virgin Mary, sometimes with the Child Jesus.

Madonna with Alpacas
My favorite is Madonna with Alpacas. She was painted by an unknown artist. Note the gold leaf highlighting. The Madonna has her eyes downcast, which suggests that she was painted by an Indian artist.

The Spanish painters who arrived at the Viceroyalty of Peru taught their techniques to the local artists, and they began to shape on linen cloths their own representations, creating a new iconographic interpretation of the Peruvian reality. Most of these paintings were created anonymously because of Pre-Columbian traditions that define art as communal.

Chapel- University Piura

The established school was commissioned to paint sacred art in churches and monasteries throughout the Peruvian city of Cuzco after the area was devastated by an earthquake in 1650. The collected efforts of numerous artists gradually evolved into a unique yet harmonious and consistent style, devoid of individualism. These paintings are usually not signed, but represent traditional depictions of the religious subjects most important to the local indigenous and Hispanic populations.

St. Joseph with Child Jesus

St Michael Archangel (A very popular figure)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Pervuvian thick-knee
White-winged guan at Chaparri
 Northern Peru, where I was four years ago, and will return to next week, is a land of stark contrasts, from the desolate coastal dunes of the Sechura Desert and dry Tumbesian forests, to the lush cloudforests of the slopes of the Andes. Peru has a varied geography and topography, and its wildernesses of so many different life zones, have endowed Peru with the greatest biodiversity and density of birds on earth. Unlike other top-ranking Neotropical birding destinations, such as Ecuador and Costa Rica, Peru has vast tracts of forest and wilderness untouched by civilization. There are areas which are completely unexplored.

Peru is a magical place for birders!  It is the number one country in the world for birds.  Its boasts more than 1,800 species, one-fifth of the world’s total, a staggering amount for a single country.
Yet, one needs a good guide to find the varied species, especially when in the jungles or mountains, as the birds tend to hide in the greenery. And after awhile they all look yellow!
Golden-Olive Woodpecker- Peru

When I was in Australia six years ago, I added over 300 species to my life list, and most I could have found myself, as they were everywhere. Imagine sitting in a friend's yard and seeing 2-3 species of parrots, cockatoos and rosellas.  In Peru the going is much harder, and even though I was in Northern Peru the same amount of time as Australia,  I found 100 less birds, and found many of these, thanks to my friend Jeremy.

No country has seen the discovery of as many birds new to science in the last few decades than Peru has, and in the late seventies and early eighties new species were described at an average rate of two per year. Since they were usually found in isolated mountain ranges and remote areas, the full scale expeditions that led to their discovery greatly increased the knowledge of South American birds in general, and more was learned about many birds that until then were only known from a few old specimens. Many of the country’s birds are still poorly known, and there are still  species of which practically nothing is known.

Redmasked parakeet

My friend Jeremy Flanagan, who has lived in the area for over 25 years has devoted his life to conservation, not only of the land, but of the birds. Sometimes it is a battle, and in the remote areas (where most of the birds live) people are more concerned with where their next meal comes from, not how to conserve. Jeremy has been working closely with his friend, the famous Peruvian wildlife photographer, Heinz Plenge, the founder of the fabulous Chaparri preserve, where we had the privilege to stay for 3 nights. Among other birds we daily were treated to the rare white-winged guans, who would perch on the fences in front of the dining area.

Jeremy (middle) with friends
While conservation is his number one priority, Jeremy knows his birds and before we hit Chaparri, we searched for the Peruvian plantcutter one of the  rarest birds in the world. It has been one of his missions to protect the plantcutter and its Peruvian habitat. Plantcutters are finicky about their diet and  are among a handful of birds known to eat leaves. Along with finches, they form part of an even smaller group of birds that can move their serrated beaks from side to side, not just up and down.

The plantcutter's precipitous decline is the result of a massive loss of its habitat which is sparse desert scrub similar to the mesquite forests of the SW United States. Jeremy and I trekked thru thorny scrub for over two hours going in circles before we found the one male. Was it worth it? Well, to add such a rare bird to a life-list is indeed worth scratches, thirst and exhaustion.

“What keeps me going is the hope that we can change things,” says Jeremy. “It's now or never for this land and this bird.”

Other than a good guide, the most important thing to have in Northern Peru, besides an appreciation for relative time and distance, is a great driver. Paved roads are a rarity, especially when in the cloudforests or traveling along the coast in  the small villages.

Donkey trail to Ayabaca
When going to my favorite place, Ayabaca (almost 10,000') the “highway” we traveled on was a rough donkey track cut along the sides of mountains, sometimes overlooking great chasms, just inches from our car's tires, with no guard rails or warning signs of any kind, except for the crosses and flowers people had put up in places where friends or relatives had gone over the edge. Yet, one goes slow and  when watching for birds, the danger seems remote!

Now, as I return to Northern Peru it is with a mission of conservation for birds and students. The University of Piura has invited me to give a presentation- that can be on-going- which may help save the campus as it exists today.  Fifty years ago, when the University was established it sat on desert land.

According to Lonely Planet:

        After several hours of crossing the vast emptiness of the Sechura Desert, Piura materializes like a mirage on the horizon, enveloped in quivering waves of heat. It’s hard to ignore the sense of physical isolation forced on you by this unforgiving environment; the self-sufficiency imposed upon early settlers may explain why they identify as Piuran rather than Peruvian. Being so far inland, the scorching summer months will have you honing your radar for air-conditioning as you seek out chilled venues in which to soothe your sweltering skin.

Desert before irrigation
Peruvian pygmy owl     

Over the years many acres have been reclaimed and irrigated from the river, to make the campus the oasis it is today.  It is unique in the area and is home to many species of birds, not usually seen in the area. They come down from the highlands to nest and live. The problem now, is the government wants to put a highway through the campus which would not only disrupt the birds, but also the lives of the students. Both Jeremy and I have already written articles (mine translated into Spanish) about the crises, but as in so many places the dollar (or sole) speaks louder than the birds! I certainly do not claim to know the politics of this foreign land, but do know there are hundreds of miles of desert where highways can be built, especially around the campus, not through it.

UDEP campus today

At present the campus is one of serenity and peace and always green. I look forward to seeing the iguanas that look like a huge dragons and love sunning on the roof of the dining hall.

We pray that a "miracle" happens in the minds and hearts of the city leaders and that students and birds alike don't lose this precious bit of green in a vast desert.

West Peruvian dove

Peruvian meadowlark

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Vincent de Beauvais  15th C -French

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us on Pentecost are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3. The  Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, "They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them." Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.

 FORTITUDE (COURAGE)-we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of  Jesus Christ. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil.
     St. Thomas Aquinas (In the Summa Theologica) asserts fortitude corresponds to the virtue of  courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce their Faith.
St. Thecla & Family- Koyto 1619

COUNSEL- we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.
     The gift of counsel corresponds to the virtue of  prudence.

F. B. Jorge Tarifa- Argentina

KNOWLEDGE-  we understand the meaning of God. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts.

UNDERSTANDING- we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ.
      The gifts of understanding and knowledge correspond to the virtue of faith.

WISDOM  is the capacity to love spiritual things more than material ones.
      The gift of wisdom corresponds to the virtue of charity.

PITY (REVERENCE) - we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. We recognize  our total reliance on God and come before God with humility, trust,and love. Piety is the   gift whereby we pay worship and duty to God. It is the most misunderstood of the gifts as we often use the word piety to denote someone who is overly scrupulous. In the Hebrew the word is HESED which is hard to translate. It is basically the covenant between God and His people.
      The gift of piety corresponds to the virtue of  justice.

FEAR OF THE LORD (WONDER AND AWE) - With  fear of the Lord we are aware of  the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and  perfect love.
       The gift of fear of the Lord corresponds to the virtue of  hope.

Linda Schmidt- Quilt
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are  essential for our sanctification and salvation. Blessed Pope John Paul II said, "With gifts and qualities such as these, we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties."

Veronica Dimae- Australia

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Egino Weinert- Germany

PENTECOST is the feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church. It is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. On that Sunday, ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the upper room, where they had seen Jesus after His Resurrection.

"And when the day of  Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language".
(Acts 2:1-6)

Jesus had promised His Apostles that He would sent His Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day.

Peter stated that this event was the beginning of a continual outpouring that would be available to all believers from that point on, Jews and Gentiles alike. (Acts 2:39)

This is why Pentecost is often called "the birthday of the Church." On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ's mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated. It's interesting to note that St. Peter, the first pope, was already the leader and spokesman for the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:14).

Dr. He Qi

The liturgical celebrations of Pentecost in Western churches are rich and varied. The main sign of Pentecost in the West is the color red. It symbolizes joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit. It also symbolizes the renewal of life, the coming of the warmth of summer, and the growth of the Church at and from the first Pentecost.

We sing the glorious Veni Creator Spiritus ("Come Creator Spirit"), a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. We sing the original Latin text in Gregorian Chant. As an invocation of the Holy Spirit it is sung during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost at both Terce and Vespers. Interestingly enough it is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, when electing a new pope, as well as at the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, when celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings, the profession of members of religious communities and other similar solemn events.

Ferdnanda Baffa y Jorge Tarifa- Argentina 

    Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
    and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
    come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
    To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

    O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
    Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,
    Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
    and sweet anointing from above.

    O Finger of the hand divine,
    the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
    true promise of the Father thou,
    who dost the tongue with power endow.

    Thy light to every sense impart,
    and shed thy love in every heart;
    thine own unfailing might supply
    to strengthen our infirmity.

S. Watanabe

    Drive far away our ghostly foe,
    and thine abiding peace bestow;
    if thou be our preventing Guide,
    no evil can our steps betide.

    Praise we the Father and the Son
    and Holy Spirit with them One;
    and may the Son on us bestow
    the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

Sawai Chinnawong- Thailand

Jyoti Sahi- India

Solomon Raj- India

Wednesday, May 15, 2013



Father Koder
FATHER SIEGER KODER was born  in 1925 in Wasseralfingen, Germany, where he completed his studies. During the Second World War he was sent to France as a front line soldier where he was made a prisoner of war. Once back from captivity, Sieger  attended the Academy School of Art in Stuttgart until 1951. He studied English philology at the University of  Tubigen as part of his qualifications as a teacher.

After 12 years of teaching art and working as an artist, Sieger undertook theological studies for the priesthood and in 1971 he was ordained a Catholic priest.  From 1975 to 1995, Fr. Köder exercised his ministry as a parish priest in Hohenberg and Rosenberg. In 2003 the Abbey of Benediktbeuren gave him an honorary doctorate in theology. Today he lives in retirement in Ellwangen, not far from Stuttgart. He still continues his art.

Mary Magdalene
Jesus Washing Feet of Peter

The years of his ministry as a priest are among the most prolific with inspiring works of art. There is complete synergy between Father Köder being a priest and an artist. He uses his paintings as Jesus used his parables. He reveals the depth of the Christian metaphors, shedding light and colour on life and human history.

Father Köder's art is heavily charged with his personal experience of war during the Nazi period and the time of the Holocaust as seen in some of  his paintings, especially the one of Venerable Father Franz Stock, as he gives Communion to a fellow prisoner. In the lion, the lamb and the Child, one sees the prophet of old crying out, surrounded by what looks like barbed wire, hence the imprisonment which the Child has come to free us from..

Father Franz Stock
The Lion, the Lamb & Child

His folk paintings have Old and New Testament themes.  One of the features of his work is the child-like simplicity of the characters and the way in which Jesus is often depicted by reflection rather than and actual full presence.  This technique has both a hint of resurrection and a respect for the Old Testament notion of not being able to name or see the Lord.

He works are inspired by the artist Chagall which one can see by his use of bright colors and his style and themes.

Art can help us to meditate on the deep mysteries of our faith, and seeing his themes of the closeness and love of God,  Father Köder's art helps us to do that.