After a few post dealing with the insanity of the Western world, especially with respect to its submission to Islam, this is a nice oasis of traditional Western beauty. This is a choir from a Serbian Orthodox Church, which is part of the overall Eastern Orthodox Church. I do not know Serbian, which is Slavic language, so I do know the lyrics here, but as the heading says, this a rendition of Psalm 135. Its melody alone conveys a deep spirituality of mystical dimensions.
It is truly beautiful, hauntingly beautiful, a lovely reminder of the heights and glories that the Western tradition has and can still reach, once we rid ourselves of the utterly destructive poison of cultural Marxism.
As is increasingly becoming clear each day, we are at war, a war for the soul of the West in general, and the White Man in particular. It is war that is being waged both on the inside, from the Marxist Left, and from the outside, by Islamic crusaders and their ever growing migrant hoards flooding into European countries, as well as the United States.
So in these increasingly dark times, let us look to such pearls of beauty as this for a reminder of what we are fighting for, at least those of us who still value the great and glorious heritage of the Western world. This hymn is a like a sip of cool water in the parched desert of our present culture.
Fra Angelico (1395-1455) was an early Italian Renaissance painter. He was also a Dominican Friar who spent his the greater part of his life in the friary of St. Marco in Florence, Italy. According to the Giorgio Vasari, who wrote a famous work on Italian Renaissance painter, The Live of the Artists, “It is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.” He also said Fra Angelico painted with a “rare and perfect talent”.
The above painting is of the Transfiguration of Christ. This is told at today’s Catholic mass. Basically, it is the moment when Jesus went up to a high mountain with three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, and was “transfigured” before them. According to the Gospels, his physical appearance changed, as he “was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.” Then, a shining cloud appeared above his disciples, from which they heard a voice, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”. It is one of the most intriguing moments in the Gospels.
It has also been a favorite scenes of many artists. Raphael painted perhaps the most famous depiction, which I posted on a few years ago. Today’s post celebrates the painting by Fra Angelico, who, as mentioned above, was one of the most spiritual of all Renaissance artists. He has even been named as “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II in 1982, which is a mark of high sanctity and is one step removed from formal sainthood.
Fra Angelico’s paintings are wonderful depictions of the life of Christ. In their calm and simplicity, their peaceful quiet and solid beauty, they reflect the deep spiritual soul of their creator. Not only can they be enjoyed simply as nice works of art, they also can be used as aides to prayer and meditation. In many ways they are a bridge between the more traditional Byzantine, icon style paintings of medieval art, and the emerging naturalism of the Renaissance. In fact, most of his painting were done in his friary, St. Marco, and were, like most religious art, intended as spiritual aids, rather than simply as sources of aesthetic pleasure. Fra Angelico was a great influence on the next generation of Italian Renaissance painters, such as Leonardo and Raphael.
His painting may be difficult for modern eyes to understand and appreciate, but for me their beauty and sense of spiritual truth far excels so much of weirdness and ugliness that exists in most modern art.
Now the Lenten season is upon us. It is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is a general renewal of the spiritual life in preparation for the Easter season, and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Although a few other Christian denominations practice some form of Lent, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are still the place to find the full expression of the Lenten spirit.
In today’s Mass readings (Matthew 4:1-11) we hear the story of Jesus’ journey to the desert, where he fasted for forty days and nights and was tempted by Satan. The first temptation was that of food. Jesus was hungry, and Satan approached him to suggest he turn the stones into bread. Christ’s response was one of the most famous lines of the Bible: “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”.
It is always good to be reminded, especially given this blog’s penchant for the celebration of physical–and in particular female–beauty, that there is more to life than simply the world around us. For me, life without the spiritual is empty indeed.
I am not sure where the painting above is from, but I find it to be a good expression of this great passage from Scripture. It also expresses well what many of us may experience went tempted by evil. There can be darkness and difficulties in life, worries and confusions, struggles and deep temptations, but in the end, as Lent reminds us, despite all this there is the ultimate hope of the resurrected Christ.
Dover Beach is one of the great poems in the English language. Written by Mathew Arnold (1822-1888), known more for his great cultural and literary criticism rather than his poetry, this poem nevertheless is a gem of beauty. It may been known to many people, but in today’s educational and cultural environment, I would not be surprised if many students graduating from a university with a degree in English have never even read this. After all, Arnold was not a black lesbian; rather, as a white male he is officially one of the great enemies of the modern Leftist zeitgeist which dominates nearly all of academia.
Still, great poetry fortunately transcends the idiocies of modern thought. What is hauntingly beautiful about his poem is the deep melancholy expressed, a melancholy which is born from the deepening lack of religious faith that Arnold saw overtaking his society. The world in which this poem was written, that of Victorian England at its most glorious, might seem today exceedingly religious. And yet for Arnold, it was not. Imagine what he would think of today’s world.
In addition to a poem about faith, it is also a love poem. Arnold is addressing his young wife in the poem, “Ah, love, let us be true/ to one another!” and he appeals to the power of love to help overcome the dissolution of religious belief.
The beauty of great poem does wonders for the soul. Like good music, it is really not something that can be truly quantified, but rather, it is better simply to appreciate it, to let it infuse the mind and heart with whatever nuances and images and verbal rhythms and echoes it possesses. And this poem possesses all that to the full.
Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year. In fact, despite the best efforts of the cultural, Marxist Left to diminish the importance of Christmas in our society, Christmas Eve still remains one of the most powerful and popular moments in our otherwise very fractured and divided society. For many of us who grew up in an earlier time without the benefit of all the technological gadgets that entertain people today, Christmas was the moment of the year of true magic and mystery, joy and happiness. The more simple gifts we received were always greatly loved. I for one loved trucks. We had no Playstation or X-box back then. So just going out into the yard and getting dirty with your new toys was always a delight. Even if you have no religious affiliation or sympathies at all, Christmas can still be a time of love and selfless giving.
One of the things I love the most about Christmas Eve is the confluence of light and darkness. Of course, the religious meaning of Christ coming into the darkness of the world with the light of life, The Nativity, is what is most important about Christmas. Still, for our modern world, the display of Christmas lights and decorations are an expression of this, even if many of them are now peppered with more secular images of Christmas, such as Santa Clause and other figures. Whatever the ultimate reason for such decorations on the part of those decorating, I have always loved the public display of lights and decorations for Christmas. Since we are in the darkest period of the year, when the days are short and there is little light and much cold, there is real emotional, spiritual and even mystical beauty to such sights.
The celebration of Christmas on December 25 of course originated in an ancient pagan Roman festival called the Saturnalia, which occurred at roughly this point in December. It was originally a sort of Winter solstice celebration. From a purely secular standpoint, what we have in common today with that old pagan festival is hope: the hope that is brought about in the darkest point of the year of new light, the eventual return of sun and warmth with spring, and the subsequent renewal of life itself in nature. So whatever the origins of this season, it always has been, and still remains, a wonderful time of the year.
And of course there is all the beautiful music. No more needs to be said on that!
And I am glad to notice since the election of Trump that more and more people seem once more to be saying “Merry Christmas” in public. I noticed this recently, and wondered if this was simply my own misguided judgment, until I heard some news pundit mention it as well. So perhaps there is something going on here. If so, the cultural Marxist left which controls most news media and entertainment, and all of academia, will be quite displeased!
Oh yes, and one of the best Christmas presents I have received this year is watching the Left’s complete meltdown at the election of Trump. It is truly one of the most delightful phenomena I have witnessed my entire life!
So here is wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!
Since today is Sunday it is a nice time for some spiritual reflection. The Anima Christi has always been one of my favorite prayers. Its origins are unknown, but perhaps it took its present form sometime in the fourteenth century. The founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, loved this prayer, and even it put it in the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises. Anima Christi means “Soul of Christ” and it is one of the most wonderful expression of Catholic spirituality. The fact that is has remained extremely popular for centuries is a testimony to its power and appeal.
Now, it may seem strange to some that a blog such as this would explores spiritual and religious matters as well as sexual and erotic. I admit there are contradictions here, especially vis a vis the posts concerning Christianity. Many of my writings on sex and sexuality are, in the end, incompatible with Christianity. Even more incompatible are many of my posts and the morals of the Catholic Church. I will not try to play the sophist to reconcile these things. I offer no explanations or apologies except to say that what I am attempting is an honest discussion of the different forces which influence people’s lives. Religion and sexuality are two of those forces. Even though we live very much in a post Christian society in the West, and in particular a post-Catholic, nevertheless the influence of Christianity on our daily lives is still there. We may not be as aware of this as in the past, nor may we be as influenced by it as in the past, but it undeniably still there. In fact, the vast majority of people, at least in the United States, still identify themselves as Christian. This cannot but help shape the society in which in live. Given that fact, then writing about different matters relating to religion and sexuality is more than justified, even if it may seem contradictory.
I suppose one defense of my erotic writings is this: in my posts dealing with sexuality, whether they be merely erotic pieces of fancy, or more serious discussions of sexual issues, I have always emphasized the importance of love and relationships. I have also written on the ultimate importance of the highest form of human love, marriage. Yes, I have occasionally written things of a purely frivolous nature, and I do those simply for the sake of entertainment. These writing appeal to some, and to some they do not. Everyone has different tastes.
There are religious readers, at least in the past, who have commented on some of my posts, and these readers were also in marriages. What they reflect is the fact that many people of a spiritual or religious nature are also deeply sexual, and that they understand and appreciate the complex nature of human sexuality, especially with regard to traditional religions, such as Catholicism. As I have often said here, the sexual conflicts and contradictions within many individuals who are nevertheless steady and even devout members of the Church is a subject often treated too poorly, are simply ignored all together, and the results of this are often seen in some of the more bizarre sex scandals which manifest themselves quite frequently. Neurotic suppression of erotic desire is a dangerous thing. For those with a deeply erotic spirit, the best avenue for the expression of that spirit is a healthy relationship with another person, and marriage is the traditional means of securing that.
So, for many in traditional religions, the best option for their sexuality is marriage. And yet marriage is not a guarantee in life. We may never find the right person, or be in the right marriage, or we may even suffer the death of a spouse. So what about those who are still deeply sexual, but are not married? How do they reconcile their sexuality with spirituality, especially the spirituality of a traditional religion to which they may belong? Perhaps this is the audience I am striving to reach the most here. There are many people of this nature, and more today than ever, as marriage is less practiced today than ever in human history. Such people often fail to explore the spiritual side of life because of the censure they believe they will experience from a religious community or institution. So in the end I wonder how many people never find a spiritual base for their lives because of these issues? Religion and spirituality have been and remain part of the universal human experience, and even modern psychology admits the importance of a healthy spirituality for an overall, healthy life. I write openly and loosely about eroticism and sexuality here because I am expressing what I have experienced in my own life in these matters, not only in my own life but among others I have known, and hopefully others can find some sort of comfort or meaning in that as well.
One thing I have noticed though among those who discuss these issues is this (and I am particularly referring to Catholicism): many such people often seem to want to ultimately undermine Church teaching, not only on sexuality but on other issues. It seems that the moment you open the door for discussion on sexuality, sooner or later the question becomes the nature of the sacraments, especially the nature of the Eucharist, the structure of nature of the Church, or even the divinity of Christ. I reject all of that. In my discussion of sexuality, or even in my erotic writings in general, I am not seeking to undermine traditional Christian or Catholic teachings and doctrine, although I admit posting nude and erotic photographs and writing explicitly erotic posts seems precisely to do that (e.g., the photo above by Michelangelo was controversial for its nudity the moment it was painted), but rather I am seeking to throw a light upon the reality of the world around us, a reality of our sexual natures that exists today and has existed since man first walked the earth. Again, it is a form of contradiction, but these contradictions are what many spiritual people live with day to day, especially those spiritual or religious people who are not in the comfortable boundaries of a traditional marriage. In a modern, complex, vast and industrial and technological society, these contradictions can be quite unhealthy to a person’s mind or soul or body if they are not confronted openly and honestly.
So, in the end, the Anima Christi is a beautiful prayer, and one that I say after every Mass on Sunday.
I am not sure if I have posted this image before, but this is one of my favorite drawings by one of my favorite artist, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). What I find so alluring about his works is his ability to capture a kind of strange, other worldliness, and to do so with the most exquisite beauty imaginable. Although Leonardo was at best an agnostic, his works still reflect the deep religious feelings of his time, especially in Catholic Italy of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. When I see his works I am reminded that, at least for me, we are physical beings journeying through a world of spirit and and transcendent mysticism.
This is merely a sketch. And yet is has such beauty, evocative and alluring and even mystical, that is really cannot be explained in words. Most great art cannot.