Monday, April 28, 2014


Yesterday Pope Francis  (with Pope Emeritus Benedict present) canonized two pillars of the Catholic Church,  two popes who had an impact that goes beyond our Church and have influenced people around the world.

St. John XXIII
, known as “the Good Pope”  had a great sense of humor.  He was a man so comfortable about himself that he constantly made jokes about his height (which was little), his ears (which were big), and his weight (which was considerable). When he once met a little boy named Angelo, he exclaimed, “That was my name, too!, but then they made me change it!”.

Asked to describe the two new saints, Pope Francis said St. John was "a bit of the 'country priest,' a priest who loves each of the faithful and knows how to care for them; he did this as a bishop and as a nuncio. He was a man of courage... He was a man who let himself be guided by the Lord"  and like our present Holy Father he embraced the poor.

.From his teens when he entered the seminary, he maintained a diary of spiritual reflections that was subsequently published as Journal of a Soul (one of my all time favorite books).  The collection of writings charts his efforts as a young man to "grow in holiness" and continues after his election to the papacy.  It remains widely read to this day.

He initiated the Second Vatican Council from whence came changes that reshaped the face of Catholicism including,  a comprehensively revised liturgy, a stronger emphasis on ecumenism, and a new approach to the world.

Like St. John Paul, his feast day is not celebrated on the date of his death as is usual, but on the  October 11, the first day of the opening of Vatican II.

St. John Paul II
, known as a globetrotter, made 104 trips outside Italy. More than any pope, St.John Paul recognized the emotional and symbolic value of conferring sainthoods as he sought to spread Catholicism around the world. He canonized 482 saints- more than all his predecessors combined. To do this, he streamlined the canonization process, reducing to five years the waiting period after a person’s death before the canonization process can be initiated. Every country this day has a patron, thanks to him.

 St. John Paul II is recognized as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. He significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.

As for St. John Paul, Pope Francis said, "I think of him as 'the great missionary of the church," because he was "a man who proclaimed the Gospel everywhere."  His feast day is to be celebrated  on the anniversary of his papal inauguration, 22 October 1978. 

Divine Mercy Sunday, the day of the canonizations, a celebration instituted worldwide by St. John Paul "showed his intuition that a new "age of mercy" was needed in the church and the world".

Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict before the Mass

Saturday, April 26, 2014


As I had written in a blog before Holy Week, I was off to SE Arizona with two of our Oblates.  Southeast Arizona has some of the top birding spots in the world and on this trip we visited five. The convergence of four distinct bioregions-the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, and the Sierra Madre and the Rocky Mountains-provides a prime mix of habitats for more than 400 species of birds. 

It was a wonderful trip, in which I added 35 birds to my life list. My goal on this trip was 25-30 new species so  I exceeded that goal. There were many highlights but perhaps the most exciting was the spotting of a SLATE THROATED REDSTART in the Chiricahua Mts. (8500+ ft).  This bird has been sighted in the USA only a handful of times, so was immediately reported to the Arizona Birding Assoc. for inclusion in the listing.  A few hours later as we descended the mountain we saw cars, racing to the top, perhaps to get a glimpse of our bird. Seeing reports the next day, it seems our lovely had flown to another area as it has not been seen since.

I flew from Seattle to Tucson where I had a layover awaiting Martha and MaryAnne to fetch me the next day to begin our journey to Madera Canyon- a magnificent area in the mountains only about 1 1/2 hours SE of Tucson.  We were fortunate to hook up with "The Desert Harrier", one of the best guides I have ever had.  He took us on a 4 hour walk though amazing but gentle country. I saw 15 new birds there alone. 

Broad-billed HB  (B. Stripling)

Magnificent HB (C & M Perkins)
At our cabin we were graced with some new hummingbirds (Broad -billed and Magnificent), painted redstarts and many acorn woodpeckers. Being a bit tired from the morning, we toured the area by car, stopping at the base of the Florida Canyon.  I was determined to find some scaled quail, so tried to imitate them by calling (more of a dying scream I am sure).  Soon overhead soared a GREY HAWK (one of the birds we missed in Texas last year). We were sure it was looking for whatever was on its last breath, as it flew low and slow.   
Hooded Oriole (Tom Benson)

Grey Hawk (Kyri)

Not five minutes later, MaryAnne (the non-birder among us) cried: what is that yellow bird in the tree? Behold, another bird missed in Texas, the glorious  HOODED ORIOLE.

 After 3 too short days we drove south to Patagonia (birding again at the Patton Place) and then north and south again to the San Pedro River Valley, where we were treated like royalty for 3 days and nights.  Each day we drove into other valleys, and while not as many birds as in the other areas, some were gems: Violet -crowned hummers and Cordilleran flycatchers.

We then drove east to Portal located at 5400 feet elevation in the heart of the Chiricahua Mountains, where we had 5 days with a Road Scholar group. We added to our list the shy NORTHERN PYGMY OWL and the world's lightest owl, the ELF OWL, which weighs in at 1.4 Oz. We saw them nightly outside our lodge (as well as javelinas, sometimes as many as a dozen).

Elf Owl (Terry Sohl)
N. Pygmy Owl

 On that high mountain we saw several very colorful warblers:  RED-FACED  and the OLIVE (which looks more like a pumpkin than an olive!).  The BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was daily at our deck feeders and later, several flycatchers were added to the list: the DUSKY-CAPPED and the BUFF-BREASTED.

Our last day we spent at the Amado Territory Inn (another treat) and birded Buenas Aires Wildlife Refuge which comprises 118,000 acres of protected grasslands, streams, and cienegas (marshlands or wetlands) for threatened and endangered species. And, with over 300 species sighted, it is, one of Arizona’s premier birding areas. Here we tried to find the rare five-stripped sparrow (spotted that day by someone) but unfortunately we came across a water- filled hole too deep for us to cross in the car so only went a bit further by foot. We  left Arizona just as the temperature was rising (not normal for April) but happy with the many treasure we found in desert and mountains.

Red-faced Warbler
Blue-throated HB (Destombe)
Olive Warbler (James Ownby)


Wednesday, April 23, 2014


New born Maud
Mari- Highland calf


by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period --
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay --
A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Two deer in the woods-  by Tari

Maud sleeps while Betty romps atop Mom

Barn Swallows

Monday, April 21, 2014


It is I think not by chance that Jesus died in the spring-time of His life and we celebrate that death in spring today.  In the northern hemisphere, spring is when new life returns to the earth after the harshness of winter. It is when nature's cycle of life, death and rebirth is at its most visible.

Most of us look forward to all the things we associate with spring, for they bring hope, light and joy. The spring months start the season of birth as the eternal and silent cycle of life begins to warm the earth with its rapidly increasing length of daylight hours, and as the axis of the earth begins its annual tilt toward the sun.

As we enjoy the days of spring, with the warmer weather, the array of colorful flowers, new lambs and calves, we look beyond the natural, the earthly, and the temporal. We are reminded of the spiritual and eternal. Just as winter has passed, so has Lent, and the death of Christ, followed by His Resurrection, bringing us hope of eternal life. ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA

The Resurrection- OLR Chapel

Sunday, April 20, 2014




Dr. Hi Qi  (USA)

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Kostis Parthenis (Greece d. 1967)

This lesser known "Pieta" by Kostis Parthenis is one of my favorites. The artist was born in Alexandria in 1878, only coming to Greece for the frst time in 1903. In 1929 he was appointed as a professor at the ASFA where he taught until 1947. He died in Athens in 1967.

He  was probably the first modern Greek artist to assimilate elements of prehistoric Aegean art in his work.
Hi very muted colors convey loss, sorrow  and hopelessness.  The following work on the otherhand
gives us great hope, reminding us of springtime and leading us  to the Resurrection.

 And another by the British artist Norman Adams, who we mentioned on Palm Sunday.
Christ's Cross & Adam's Tree

Friday, April 18, 2014


Theyre Lee-Elliott (British-d. 1988)
Graham Sutherland (English- d. 1980)
Francis Souza- India (d. 2002)
de Grazia (USA)
Jacobello Alberegno  (Italian-1390)

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The Last Supper

Stanley Spencer (1891-1951) was an English artist, who before World War I enjoyed a steady faith, in which he experienced much love with few shadows in his life. When he returned from the war his faith was shattered. While he held fast to love as a central theme of his faith, he never recovered his almost childlike trust.

Stanley, who seems to be largely know outside England, painted this work not long after the war for a private chapel belonging to Sir Henry Slesser, a prominent Catholic. His images remind one of dreams and symbolism, yet there is an almost amusing aspect to this work.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Jesus Condemned to Death
The Wahshing of the Feet- Ghislaine Howard
Ghislaine Howard is a British artist born in 1953 who was named as a Woman of The Year in 2008 for her contribution to art and society. A painter of powerful and expressive means, she is known for her ability to express our Christian faith in an imaginative and arresting way.

In her Washing of the Feet she has mixed sand with the paint to create a sculptural texture which serves to at once unify and heighten the intensity and intimacy of the scene.

The Breaking of the Bread- Koder
One of my favorite artists, whom we have dealt with in a past blog is Sieger Koder, a German priest who uses painting as Jesus used parables. He reveals the depth of the Christian message through metaphors. Köder dips his brush into the very essence of Scripture and with color describes the wholeness of human life.

 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jn 6:35

The Washing of the Feet-Koder

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Suffering Servant - Friedrich Peter   (Canada)

Living not far from us (as the eagle flies) is the German born artist Friedrich Peter who now lives in Vancouver. He was born in 1933 and after finishing his studies, he and his wife Christine were enticed by a poster of the Canadian Rockies and sought out the Canadian consulate to explore the possibility of leaving Germany. The rugged nature of the North touched him deeply. Upon their arrival in Canada in 1957, they took a train from Montreal to Vancouver, where in 1958 Friedrich became an instructor at the Vancouver School of Art.
His unusual style of typeface design work has received many awards.

Friedrich and Christine have raised three children, all born in Canada, and believe that "God’s guidance, not our dreams of freedom…brought us to Canada."

Judas Iscariot Betrayed our Lord (1987)

While in Black & White I present another wonderful  artist John Muafangejo (1943-87) who was born in Angola.  He grew up in a traditional homestead herding cattle during the day and playing communal and literary games, with their strong moral and philosophical content, with the elders in the evening. This period of his life clearly influenced not only his development as an artist but also the content of his work forming the basis of his strongly autobiographical subject matter. Following the death of his father in 1955, his mother inherited nothing and so moved to a mission station where John joined her in 1957. He converted to Christianity at the age of fourteen and in 1964 attended St Mary's Anglican mission school at Odibo in Namibia where his artistic skills were recognized and arrangements were made for him to train at Rorke's Drift.

Muafangejo is best known for his linocuts of figures, religious and historical scenes. His images have a strong narrative quality and his illustrations of African traditions often have an explanatory script. His work can be seen in public galleries throughout South Africa.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I am always astounded in art how images we have seen over and over again, some a thousand years old, such as the Crucifixion, can be changed to inspire us anew, with form and colors.

This Holy Week I present some very modern art depicting the Passion of Christ, some you may like, others maybe not, but all are thought provoking.


Christ's Entry into Jerusalem- Norman Adams  (British- d. 2005)

As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,  the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” LK.19


Ioana Corujan
Mihaela Bercea
Today's images are by Romanian artists who have "resurrected" the old art of reverse glass painting in which the image is painted behind a glass panel, making the usual methods of composition reversed. The outlines, the lettering, and finishing details have to be brushed onto the glass first before background coloring and sections of gold leaf can be applied, a process allowing for no mistakes! The image is then sealed with a coating of varnish, covered with a sheet of paper, and fixed in a wood frame with a protective backing.

  The colors in the pieces depicted here are vibrant and their primitive style evokes the sufferings of Jesus in a way some more classical work does not.

Throughout the 19th century painting on glass was very popular as folk art in Austria, Bavaria, Moravia, Bohemia and Slovakia. Unfortunately, during the inter-war period (1914-45) this traditional "naive" technique fell nearly to a complete oblivion and its methods of paint composition and structural layout had to be re-invented by combining acrylic and oil paints. Also the style of painting and especially the themes had to be varied and adjusted to new perceptions of the world in modern times.

Georgeta Maria Iuga
Painting on glass started to become popular again during the 1990s. However, many painters of this genre affirm that abandoning that unique tradition of naivist approach to painting on glass is rather difficult. Mihaela, Ioana and Georgeta are several of the artists of note today in their native Romania.