Posted tagged ‘orthodox’

Just outside St. Blog’s

July 3, 2008

I was doing some internet surfing, and I am now giving thanks to God for the invention of the staff (four or five lined!).

This is Byzantine Chant notation, and those be neumes!

I hate to say – but it’s Greek to me!


Internet ‘censership’

June 10, 2008

The internet is truly amazing. First off, thanks to eric for commenting on the Art at Home post about how to use the hand censer. Shortly after I published that post, I took my chances with a Google search, thinking I’d probably find some web page or another with a mention of it. But low and behold, there was a You Tube video!

I sense…that it would be great if there were Catholic tutorials similar to this all over You Tube. I’m not good with video, so I’ll stick with the blog. But could you imagine if there were instructional videos on Gregorian chant on You Tube? Who knows, maybe there are. Perhaps I’ll do some searching.

This video was very helpful, but just as my meal doesn’t turn out quite like those on Giada’s Everyday Italian, I’m still not getting as much smoke as the video shows. Perhaps I do need more ventilation like the commenter suggested. As to the traditional use of the hand censer in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, here’s what the font of not so hagia sophia (Wikipedia) has to say:

The faithful will often burn incense, using a hand censer, in the home during Morning and Evening Prayers, and it is not unusual for the head of the household to bless the Holy Icons and all of the members of the household with a hand censer.

Art at home

June 7, 2008

Every Catholic home should contain sacred art. My wife and I are just starting to collect items and at the centre of our collection, and at the centre of our hearth, we’ve placed a beautiful icon that we purchased at…a Greek Orthodox Church.

Every summer in South Bend there’s a Greek festival at the local Orthodox church. There’s great food, traditional music and dancing, tours of the church,  and of course, lots of baklava. This year we purchased a censer which can also be seen in the picture. And if anyone knows how to use it properly (and I mean, practically speaking – is the charcoal supposed to burn the incense?), please let me know.

But one of the interesting things about the icon is Mary’s red garments. The icon is an image of the Theotokos (Mater Dei, Mother of God). As discussed in a previous post, the colour most commonly associated with the Blessed Mother in Catholic art is blue. In addition to the previous examples cited, the image of Our Lady of Czeschowa is a prime example (although this image is outside of Western art tradition – it was purportedly painted by St. Luke, and is very much in the Eastern tradition of icons).

In Greek icon writing, the colour red is associated with humanity (through its connection with blood). Blue is associated with Heaven or the Kingdom of God. On a side note, Catholic art also shares some of these associations, but generally uses them in different ways. In the Orthodox icon above, Mary’s outer garments are red, and her inner garment is blue. The red indicates that she is of human origin, and blue indicates her heavenly nature. The art of icon writing is prevalent in the Eastern Catholic churches as well, so I think it’s a beautiful tradition that Roman Rite Catholics should understand better (including myself!).

And one final side note, if you ever have the opportunity to attend a Divine Liturgy at St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church in South Bend – do so.  Most of the church is covered in beautiful icons, and as many of us rediscover our western traditions, it’s important to see how the Eastern Catholic churches have preserved many of theirs.

N.B. I’m using Eastern and Western somewhat loosely here – of course Greek art and icons are in the Western Art tradition, but are outside the Medieval and Renaissance Roman Rite traditions so to speak. Even that isn’t an exact distinction, since the Byzantine style was emulated in the Roman art tradition as well. Hopefully, my distinctions, while not precise, are understandable.

Orthodox vestments

April 30, 2008

While I was having a bit of fun in my earlier post about Salzburg, and art being important in healing the great schism, I did hear this fascinating true quotation from priests at one Greek Orthodox Church. They were quite excited about Pope Benedict XVI in general, and they specifically commented that he “had been wearing some really nice vestments lately.” 

Art does play a role.

Mozart, again

April 29, 2008

Could great Catholic art be the bridge between occident and orient? Is Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and Russia a fan of Mozart? You be the judge…

We attribute a huge significance to the development of friendly relations with the Catholic diocese of Salzburg. This is not just because your city has cultural and historical importance,” Alexy II said.

Which implies that the cultural and historical importance did play some part. 🙂 The full article is available from Interfax.