Thursday, July 30, 2020


In a Blog last year (9/5/19)  we briefly mentioned ST. PEDRO de JESUS MALDONADO, as one of the Knights of Columbus martyrs, but he was also a defender of the Eucharist. He  was a priest during the anti-Catholic rule of Mexican President Plutarco Calles. Father Pedro Maldonado was a great priest in Chihuahua during the anti-Catholic persecution, helping prepare children for their First Communion and serving the poor.

When he was 17 years old, he entered the diocesan seminary, where he was known for his piety; once, after completing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, he told the rector of the seminary "I have thought of always having my heart in heaven and in the Tabernacle."

Due to the political situation in Mexico, he left to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas where he was ordained on Jan. 25, 1918.

St. Pedro worked with the Tarahumara Natives and sought to reduce the amount of alcohol they consumed. He helped the poor with money and clothing, and raised and educated a poor orphan. He took a special interest in the religious education of both children and adults, explaining Catholic doctrine by using photographs. At harvest time, farmers would ask him to bless fields invaded by locusts, and there are accounts that claim his prayers expelled the locusts more than once.

On February 10, 1937, Ash Wednesday, drunken men with guns came into his church, threatening to arrest him. The priest quickly grabbed the church’s pyx of consecrated hosts before the thugs pushed him out into the street. He was dragged by the hair to the region’s political leader, Andrés Rivera, who hit the priest so hard on the head with his pistol that he damaged his skull and eye. The gang began beating Father Pedro, but the priest held his pyx tightly, until a direct blow knocked it loose. 

The hosts spilled on the ground, and one of the thugs shoved them into the priest’s mouth, sneering, “Eat this! Your last Communion.” The holy priest did just that. He died the following day in a hospital.

He is the first canonized saint and  martyr from Chihuahua City, Mexico, yet holds a special place in the hearts of the people of El Paso, Texas. In this day and age when so few believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he is a good example for those who hold to the true faith! 

Sunday, July 26, 2020


In a rare move in modern times, a “lowly” priest was made a cardinal of the Church, without first being a bishop. In accordance with the norm that all cardinals should be bishops, Pope Francis consecrated Father Czerny a bishop on 4 October 2019, making him titular archbishop of Benevento. He was made a Cardinal the next day!

CARDINAL MICHAEL F. CZERNY, SJ (born 1946) is a Czechoslovakian-born priest whose work in Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Rome has promoted social justice. He has been under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development since 1 January 2017. 

Born in BrnoCzechoslovakia, his family immigrated to Canada by ship in 1948. He attended a Jesuit high school in Montreal and joined the Jesuits in 1964. He attended Gonzaga University, in our own state of Washington.  He was ordained a priest in 1973 and obtained his doctorate in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Chicago in 1978.

Cardinal Czerny co-founded the Jesuit Center for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto in 1979, and  was the first director until 1989. In 1990–1991, following the murder of six Jesuits and others at the University of Central America in San Salvador, he assumed the director's role of the University's Institute for Human Rights, a position that had been held by one of the murdered priests. 

From 1992 to 2002, he worked in the Social Justice Secretariat at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome. In 2002 he founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network and directed it until 2010. During these nine years, he initiated and coordinated efforts by Jesuits and others in nearly 30 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to provide pastoral care, education, health services, social and spiritual support, and to fight stigma for victims of HIV/AIDS, and channeled resources from foreign sources. During that time, he also taught at Hekima University College in Nairobi

Cardinal Czerny worked in Rome at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as the personal assistant to Cardinal Peter Turkson from 2010 to 2016.

On 14 December 2016, Pope Francis appointed him under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, effective 1 January 2017, along with Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio. Discussing his new responsibility, he called migration "one of the most important and urgent human phenomena of our times", adding: "There’s hardly a place in the planet which is not touched by this phenomenon. Indeed, though many are not aware of it, there are more people moving in Russia and China today than in any other part of the world.”
With Angels Unawares

In 2016 he commissioned Timothy Schmalz (see Blog  7/17/20) to create the Angels Unawares sculpture that depicts a boat carrying migrants and refugees wearing clothes that identify them with a variety of cultures and time periods. It was inaugurated in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican in 2019.

Pope Francis named him a voting member of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

In October 2018, he said the rhetoric used to describe migration and refugee movements was misleading. He said: "It's not a crisis. It's a series of mismanagements and poor policies and self-interested manipulations. The numbers that we're talking about, even on the total scale, are not at all that great."

In keeping with his work to better the lives of migrants, his pectoral cross, made by the Italian artist Domenico Pellegrino, is wood from the remains of a boat used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean from Northern Africa in their attempt to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The new Cardinal says. The poor wood suggests the Jesuit vow of poverty and the desire for a humble, engaged Church. The origin of the wood reflects my family's flight to safety when I was very young as well as my current responsibilities in the Migrants and Refugees Section.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Youth of the world have a new patron in VENERABLE MATTEO FARINA, who died in 2009. Born in 1990 in Brindisi, he spent his brief but deep earthly life surrounded by love of his family, his friends, his parish community and his girlfriend.

Like  people of his own age, he played various sports and loved music, playing several instruments. He found a music band called “ No name”.
He also had a  passion for chemistry, and would have continued his studies in the environmental engineering field. He also liked all the new information technology.

Two events  marked his life: a dream and the diagnosis of a brain cancer.
When he is 9 years old, he dreamt of St. Pio from Pietrelcina who revealed to him the secret of happiness,giving him the task to spread it to everyone. These are St. Pio’s words according to the story of the young Matteo: “If you managed to understand that who is without sin is happy, than you have to teach it to the others, so that we can go all together happily in the heavenly kingdom”.

This dream led Matteo to understand this was his vocation and he wrote: “I hope to succeed in realizing my mission as ‘undercover agent’ among young people, telling them about God (enlightened from Him)… I look around me and I want to enter in young people’s lives quietly like a virus, infecting them of an incurable illness: Love!”.

When Matteo was 13,  he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent his first operation in Hannover, Germany.  In spite of this he was still an inspiration to all who came into contact with him, from friends to his doctors and other patients.

“You would like to scream to the world that you would do everything for your Savior, that you are ready to suffer for the salvation of souls, to die for Him. You will have the opportunity of showing Him your love”.

“ Faith is to grasp God to spread his Word. Happiness is the fruit of faith.”  Matteo used to say: “It is useless to despond, we have to be happy and transmit happiness. The more happiness we give people, the more people are happy. The more they are happy, the more we are happy”.

 At seventeen, he met Serena, his girlfriend and “the most beautiful gift I could receive from the Lord”. He started to meditate on the mystery of human love as mirroring the love of God. His love for Serena was  a love which became companionship, communion and sharing.

But his illness strike once more, and in 2009 he underwent his third operation, which left him partially paralyzed. He understood that his life might be short, and he wrote: “We must live every day as if it were the last, but not in the sadness of death, rather in the joy of being ready for our encounter with the Lord”

Sometimes  when the pain was simply too much, Matteo wondered where the Lord was.  “Has God deserted you? No. In silence, He’s always at your side, He wipes away your tears and holds you in His arms, until you’ll be strong enough to walk for yourself, holding His hands in yours vigorously. Fatigue. Curl up humbly in His arms and you’ll be sheltered there until good weather will come again. You’ll shine again, then, in His love, giving a caress, a smile, your small contribution to help those who, like you, are in need or tired; bring them to God. They’ll resurrect in turn, with our Lord, to a life of love”.

His mission can be described with his own words : “My God, I have two hands, let one of them to be always clasped to You in order to hold You closer in every trial. And let the other hand fall throughout the world if this is Your will… as I know You by others, so let others know You through me. I want to be a mirror, the clearest possible, and if this is Your will, I want to reflect Your light in the heart of every man. Thanks for life. Thanks for faith. Thanks for love. I’m Yours”.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


In this crises time in our world and in our church, many are not able to get to Mass on a regular basis but there are usually weekday Masses and sometimes even adoration of the Blessed sacrament.

Our second holy man of the Eucharist  was the Hungarian chaplain János Brenner (born 1931), who died guarding the Eucharist on 15th December 1957.

JANOS BRENNER was ordained a priest by bishop Sándor Kovács on 19th June 1955 in the cathedral of Szombathely. He celebrated his first mass in the St. Norbert church of that town. He became the chaplain of Rábakéthely, in the second district of Szentgotthárd, near the Hungarian border.

Father János was ready to make any sacrifice for the faithful. He especially loved  children and youth.  

One of the faithful remembers:  "He had a certain glow which cannot even be described in words. The people loved him, and loved to listen to his words. There was something in him, what attracted the people. This was his main crime.: both the young and the old loved him. He won a great number of people for the faith and the Church. He could not pass by a person without stopping  to talk to them even a word or two. He always had a beautiful smile on his face... He seriously announced the Word of God and testified his faith in every minute. He was a very good confessor since he always gave some advice for our lives."

His charism was  not seen favorably  by the Communist regime, especially in hi work with the young. The representative of the state for the Church wanted to remove him from the community. When the bishop informed  Father Brenner about this, he replied: "I am not afraid, it would be a pleasure for me to stay." The bishop stood by the chaplain and decided to leave him in Rábakéthely. The representative said: "Well then, you shall see the consequences, too."

Father János clearly saw that his vocation was trying at the time. He wrote in is spiritual journal: "My Lord, You know, that I do not seek happiness in this life, since I have put my everything into You... I know, my Lord, that You do not save yours from suffering, since they got a tremendous profit from it."

One autumn evening, when he was on his way home on his motorcycle from Farkasfa, unknown ruffians threw logs in from of him, but he managed to avoid them. When he arrived at home, he said "They weren't lucky", and had a good laugh.

It is still not clear, not even today, what exactly happened on the night of 14-15 December 1957. There are only  a few pieces of the puzzle: testimonies of the suspects and of the convicted and some memories of  witnesses, which Dr. Frigyes Kahler, law-historian reconstructed.

Around midnight a 17-years-old man knocked on the door of the parish with the request that his seriously ill uncle should be given the Sacraments. Father János  went to the church, and took the Eucharist, placing it in the pyx, and with his companion started towards Zsida on the pitch-dark way leading through the hills. On the way he was attacked many times, but he managed to escape. In the end he was caught near the house of the supposed-sick-uncle. 

 And there, with the Eucharist around his neck, they stabbed him 32 times. From the autopsy report we also know that multiple fracture of the hyoid bone and the horns of the laryngeal cartilage were visible on the body. This cannot be caused by strangling; this injury occurs by stepping on the neck and trampling on it. On the white collar belonging to the cassock ground samples were visible, and the silhouette of a sole could also be seen. So, they wanted not only to kill him, but also humiliate him, too.

The investigation was merely a show, everyone was a suspect, even the parish priest. In the end one person was sentenced to death by the courts, but the Supreme Court released him. Later that boy was sentenced, who called János Brenner from the parish.

"God works with those who love him" (Rom 8,28) - the first-mass-motto of János Brenner was the main lead of his life as a priest. He lived and died by this spirituality for Christ and for those entrusted to him. His short, but God-loving life was for the good of all and also (or maybe mainly) is death, since his blood is also the sowing of the Christianity. "The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" - that is, what János Brenner did: he gave his life for a non-existent sick, he laid down his life for his vocation and Christ. He was capable of all the sacrifices. He did not fear threats or being persecuted.

During the investigation many charges were brought against him (jealousy, human trafficking) looking for the motive of the murder, but they could not find a single person, who would speak ill of him. After the investigation someone said: "They have just conducted the process of the canonization of János Brenner!" The life of the pure-hearted, honest and faithful to God priest was obvious for everyone. His was not a human trafficker, but a fisher of men.

Friday, July 17, 2020


I recently posted news regarding the destruction of artwork depicting some of our famed saints and founders of our country. I came across an interesting interview (Catholic News Agency) of Canadian sculptor TIMOTHY SCHMALZ, who says it breaks his heart to see the wanton vandalism of sculpture. He told CNA that he believes sculpture is a unique and powerful method of preaching, while at the same time acknowledging the flawed nature of many historical figures. 

For me, often these figures can be a reminder that we live in a different age, and can learn from past mistakes.  The art being made today will be judged  by the next generations who will see our flaws.  What if we learned today that Michelangelo  or Rodin or Henry Moore did unspeakable acts in their lifetime.  Would  we destroy their works -  to be lost forever?

Angels Unawares

Timothy said it made him upset “beyond belief” watching the news and seeing statues of figures such as Christopher Columbus and St. Junipero Serra be torn down. Seeing what he called “a random mob” destroy statue after statue felt like watching “wanton violence against our culture.”  He says the statues, are works of art being used as scapegoats for the country’s perceived historical sins

He has been a sculptor for 30 years and is perhaps best known for his sculpture  the "Angels Unawares" dedicated to migrants in St. Peter’s square.

“I know the amount of time that is spent working on each sculpture and a lot of these sculptures were done a century ago and the skill level, the time that it's been put into that--just on a simple work ethic and good craftsmanship and time and love that is put into it...  Its basic presence is that of time enduring.”

Sculpture, he said, is different from other art forms, as unlike a play or a piece of music, it is intended to be permanent. . “They’re visual ambassadors of that history, and to destroy it--[its] absolute arrogance.” 

“I'm a sculptor, I'm a creative, I create, I do not destroy, and I wish more people would follow the role model of creating rather than destroying,” he said. Timothy conceives his sculptures with keen devotion to Catholicism and gives his time to each piece, sometimes taking as much as 10 years forming the idea and sculpting it.

Creation, he explained, is far more difficult than destruction. Some of the statues that were destroyed took years to make, “and they’re toppled in 15 minutes.” 

“I want to be in a culture that is one of creating, not one of destroying. And, and what I say is that if you have a problem with that sculpture, let's create more sculptures, let's create more stuff.”

 "If my sculptures are used by people as a tool to think, then I’m very happy."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Beautiful poem  which should make us think during these stressful times when we actually have more time than ever to stand and wonder!           


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871-1940)  Welsh

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


                                                      In her Czech crown of fresh flowers
                                                              made by 2 Shaw women

On the feast of Corpus Christi, our MOTHER DILECTA PLANANSKY celebrated her 50th anniversary of vows.  Due to “lockdown” her family was not able to come from California to help us celebrate, but celebrate we did! She received a blessings from the Holy Father to start the week and Thursday was a special Mass and her favorite meal- Mexican. She received many cards and gifts from all her have known her throughout the years, including past interns.

On Saturday we had a “picnic” with several of our Oblates who have been quarantining on the island.
While Mother was raised in S. California, she was born in Wyoming, when her father was in the military during the war. Both parents were teachers and instilled in Mother a love of learning, which continues to this day.

Mother entered the Abbey of  Regina Laudis a few years after college, having graduated from the San Diego College for Women, which is now the University of San Diego, a private Roman Catholic university founded in July 1949.  She majored in English, which is shown to this day by her love of Scrabble. She is always looking for new words, and is noted for her  sensitive poetry.

With Bella in the Gator

Mother has been in charge of the vast vegetable gardens, as well as the herd of cattle and dairy cows.    
Mother has also served us as sacristan and liturgist. Like all of us she wears many hats.  Here is one of her poems:

Sept. 11, 02  A Commemoration

waking very early
solidly dark here in the West
day dawning on the East coast
I find myself praying among the stars
darkness not a void but
a setting for the stars,
interplay of dark and light.

an owl murmurs,
murmuring a question
...we know now the answer
a stark 2,817 soul mates,
at least 2,817, the number unsure
as survivors of ground zero surface
having forgotten their own names

so brief the passing
of the shooting star
then across the sky
a pace  regular and magnetic
the passage of a plane silently
(for some the last sensing was
sound and firey, fuel-fury).

From the distance of today
a stark beauty and patterned
meaning emerges in the sky:
somehow imbedded in the vastness
"Yahweh, God our God is One
Allah is great
Bless be Jesus Christ,
Firstborn of all creation"
someday to be uttered as
effulgence not controversy.

later in the light of day
the vastness remains
with no points of brightness
or connected patterns

but the stars unseen
are always with us.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


On July 11, the feast of St. Benedict, Pope Francis formally recognized PADRE EUSEBIO KINO, S.J., as Venerable.  The 17th century Italian Jesuit missionary evangelized, and mapped, much of what is now northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.
Padre Kino (see Blog 10/14.12), an explorer and missionary, took part in numerous expeditions through the American Southwest and is widely considered an apostle to the native population of Arizona, and defender of their rights.
Born in 1645 in the Tyrol region of northern Italy and ordained in 1677, Padre Kino was sent to Mexico, arriving in 1681.
Participating in more than 50 expeditions through northern Mexico to the southwestern United States, he is credited with baptizing more than 4,000 people, and covering more than 50,000 square miles by horse while announcing the Gospel and mapping the Pimería Alta territory of modern Arizona.
A capable cartographer, Padre Kino personally mapped an area 200 miles long by 250 miles wide, paving the way for a network of missions and roads connecting previously inaccessible parts of the region.
He is also credited with teaching advanced agricultural and ranching techniques to the local people, delivering new crops and improving the quality of life, as well as founding 19 ranching villages to supply food for the region, and schools for the education of the local children.

Lon Megargee
The Jesuit was also a noted defender of the rights and dignity of the indigenous people, strongly opposing the Spanish conscription of the local Sonoran Indians to work in silver mines. He died in 1711, aged 65, having fallen ill during a Mass to dedicate the church of St. Francis Xavier in present day Magdalena de Kino, in Sonora, Mexico, where his shrine is a national monument.

Saturday, July 11, 2020


I am amazed at the number of people out there who are not heeding medical advice and common sense.  They need to read, which I am beginning to think some Americans incapable of!  People these days walk & ride bikes right through our enclosure property- with large signs  warning private- no entrance! 

July 10, 2020 -- Wearing a facial covering not only curbs the spread of the coronavirus but reduces a mask wearer's risk of catching the virus by 65%, said Dean Blumberg, MD, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital.

Whitney Potter- WA State
Blumberg, speaking on a college livestream about the coronavirus, said that a “standard rectangular surgical mask ... will decrease the risk of infection to the person wearing the mask by about 65%” and that homemade masks also “should work quite well.”

N95 masks are the most effective but should be reserved for medical personnel, he added.
The masks mainly provide a physical barrier to respiratory droplets that are about one-third the size of a human hair, he said. Those drops are one of the major ways the virus is transmitted.

“People who say 'I don't believe masks work' are ignoring scientific evidence,” Blumberg said. “It's not a belief system. It's like saying, 'I don't believe in gravity.'

You're being an irresponsible member of the community if you're not wearing a mask. It's like double-dipping in the guacamole. You're not being nice to others.”

But even surgical masks are not airtight enough to create an effective barrier against much smaller aerosol particles, which are about 1/100th the size of a human hair, he said. The best defense against aerosol particles is social distancing and interacting with people outdoors.

“Studies in laboratory conditions now show the virus stays alive in aerosol form with a half-life on the scale of hours. It persists in the air,” said William Ristenpart, PhD, a professor of chemical engineering at UC Davis. “That's why you want to be outdoors for any social situations if possible.”
Enclosed places like bars are especially troublesome, he said, because “The louder you speak, the more expiatory aerosols you put out.”

Blumberg said scientists' opinions about the effectiveness of masks has evolved since the pandemic began months ago.

Although more states and cities are issuing mask mandates as cases continue to surge in the U.S., the issue remains controversial. Wearing them was not universally recommended during the early days of the pandemic, partly to ensure health care workers had enough protective gear while shortages existed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


When we speak of art, often it is only the visual arts, and we forget that music is one of our greatest arts.  I wanted to find out a bit more about the Norwegian composer OLA GJEILO (pron. Yay-lo), whose work Ubi Caritas is sung by King's Return-  see previous Blog.  He is one of several who are writing good sacred music in our day. It’s refreshing to find that real art still exists.   

On his embrace of choral music, Ola says, “I can’t quite explain why, but I’ve always gravitated toward choral music. One of the things that I love about the choral world is it’s very warm. There’s a lot of heart.”

He was born in Skui, Norway on May 5, 1978, to parents who loved music, everything from classical to jazz, pop and folk music. They certainly encouraged his talents from an early age.  He began playing piano and composing when he was five years old and learned to read music when he was seven years old. He studied classical composition with Wolfgang Plagge, another well known Norwegian composer. 

In his undergraduate career, Ola studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music (1999–2001), transferring to the Juilliard School (2001) in New York. He also studied film music at the University of S. California, inspired by the improvisational art of film composer, Thomas Newman (The PlayerThe Shawshank RedemptionThe Green MileFinding NemoWALL-E, the James Bond films SkyfallSpectre, and the war film 1917.)

This followed  studies at the Royal College of Music, London (2002–2004) where he received a bachelor's degree in composition. He continued his education at Juilliard (2004–06) where he received his master's degree in 2006, also in composition. From 2009–10, Ola was composer-in-residence for Phoenix Chorale.

He lives in Manhattan, working as a freelance composer. He is currently composer-in-residence with DCINY and Albany Pro Musica.

He is one of the most frequently performed composers in the choral world. An accomplished pianist, improvisations over his own published choral pieces have become a trademark of his collaborations. It is perhaps Ola’s adopted country of America that has influenced  his distinctive soundworld the most, evolving a style that is often described as cinematic and evocative, with a lush, harmonious sound. In an interview he mentioned being influenced by Brahm's  Requiem and that his favorite composer is Rachmaninoff (who is also mine) being blown away when he first heard the 2nd Piano Concerto.

“I always wanted my music to be uplifting in some sense, even if the music is sad or dramatic. The goal for me is always that the listeners come out of it feeling more inspired and uplifted than before; that when there’s a lot of conflict, even anguish in the music, there’s still a resolution at the end of it – something that transcends the conflict. I think that’s what we generally want in all areas of life; in war, relationships, everything. If there’s conflict, we want resolution. We want there to be peace, and that’s how I feel about music too. I want it to inspire harmony.”

An example of how the arts can be interwoven, Ola says glass artist Dale Chihuly  (of Seattle) and architect Frank Gehry had a great influence on his work. I advise you to go to Youtube and listen to his work. His music inspires- prayer indeed in these times of need! 

His LUMINOUS NIGHT OF THE SOUL is a masterpiece: " The Central Washington University Chamber Choir (Gary Weidenaar, director) joined by Ola Gjeilo on the piano and the Kairos String Quartet (comprised of CWU string faculty).

Long before music was sung by a choir,
Long before silver was shaped in the fire,
Long before poets inspired the heart,
You were the Spirit of all that is art.

You give the potter the feel of the clay;
You give the actor the right part to play;
You give the author a story to tell;
You are the prayer in the sound of a bell.

Praise to all lovers who feel your desire!
Praise to all music which soars to inspire!
Praise to the wonders of Thy artistry
Our Divine Spirit, all glory to Thee.
            (Charles Anthony Silvestri)

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.
                        (St. John of the Cross)

Monday, July 6, 2020


I recently came across KINGS  RETURN, an a cappella (sung without instrumental accompaniment) vocal group rooted in Gospel, jazz, R&B and classical music, singing  the classical Latin piece Ubi Caritas. Sung from the heart of an ordinary stairwell, the choral acoustic perfection has wowed many on Youtube.

This group describe themselves as “a vocal band of brothers formed in 2016 from pre-existing friendships.” They further explain that their band’s name “reminds us to be our brother’s keeper and to pay homage to our King, Jesus, who has Himself promised to return.” 

The 8th-century antiphon, sung on Holy Thursday during the washing of feet, was arranged by the modern Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, who currently resides in Manhattan, working as a freelance composer.

Translated, the piece sends a powerful message, one apt for our  country's present racial unrest: Where charity and love are, God is there. Christ’s love has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him. Let us fear, and let us love the living God. And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

If only we all could “sing” this from the depth of our American hearts!

Sunday, July 5, 2020



Kathe Kollwitz

"In our present day, it can be easy to conclude from the various crises taking place around the world, all the injustice and political unrest, the rampant poverty and environmental threats, persecution and killings, diseases and displacements, that art and beauty are mere luxury. It could even make some feel that to focus on art and beauty is insensitive or shortsighted. However, I want to suggest that it’s precisely because of these desperate situations that the artist is called upon to beautify the world with art and engage these issues from a vantage point of hope.

The desperate situation in our world calls for the artist to emerge as a prophetic voice for change and to offer heaven’s alternatives. I’m reminded of the example of Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi, who countered the tragedy of war by playing music at the sites of car-bomb explosions, with smoldering buildings in the background of his concertos. Wasfi said, “The other side chose to turn every element, every aspect of life in Iraq into a battle and into a war zone. I chose to turn every corner of Iraq into a spot for civility, beauty, and compassion.”
This is the call of the artist in collaboration with God: we are called to be the architects of hope and to counter the destruction of life with the opposite spirit in beauty and creativity."
                                                Stephen Roach , founder of The Breath & the Clay, a creative arts community                                                                        exploring the intersections of art, faith & culture.

Let’s face it, the coronavirus pandemic, with the continuing rise in cases and deaths, has shaken us to the core. My friends call, people I do not know email or write for prayers, just to reach out or be comforted.

Chinmaya Br- India
In these times of uncertainty, art can be a steadying force. When a work of beauty, be it a poem, a painting, a piece of music, or a great novel , we are reminded of the ability to create in the midst of crises and suffering. It is said that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague.

The creative arts sustain our spirit as we make sense of what’s happened and try to find our footing again in these troubled times, as we are moved inward, to the space of our thoughts and imagination, a place we have perhaps neglected. Of all the necessities we now feel so keenly aware of, the arts and their contribution to our well-being is evident and, in some ways, central to those of us locked in at home.

 Why art in these times? Aren’t there more important things to consider and reflect upon? Art allows us to examine what it means to be human for it is eternal.  It allows us to give expression to our thoughts and feelings, be it from suffering or from joy.  Art helps us process trauma, express difficult feelings, and work through experiences. Through art, we feel deep emotions together and are able to process experiences, find connections, and create an impact on the culture and society.

Louis Betts- USA- 19th C.
Art educates and inspires, and prompts our imagination to assess things and circumstances in a new and alternative light. Art can destroy barriers that divide people and can identify serious issues that we must address, both individually and collectively. It empowers us to see beyond that which may erode our growth and creative core. I think of all the graffiti which springs up in all our cities, especially in times of unrest.

Clement Tsang- Hong Kong
Art of any kind be it visual arts or the written word, or music, reminds us that we are not alone and that we share a universal human experience. During this dread virus we have had examples of opera singers sharing their gift to their neighbors from their balconies, or groups getting together across the world via zoom (or whatever).  

Art has been  proven to reduce stress. There are countless studies showing the physical and mental benefits of making art and studying art be it writing, composing or painting.  So get busy and write that opus which will change the world!