Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

"The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit...
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy Word..."
"... And the Word Became Flesh and dwelt among us."

Wishing you a Happy Feast of the Annunciation with music 
and a beautiful meditation from St. Bernard of Clairvaux!

Above is a video of my beloved alma mater's Schola Cantorum Franciscana singing part of the chant version of "Ave Maris Stella," then part of Josquin's setting of the same chant hymn, definitely well worth a listen! The Schola sang this at the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Spring 2011, while I was studying abroad in Austria. The hymn begins, "Hail Star of the Sea ..."
In the second verse, the hymn sings of the Annunciation: "Receiving that 'Ave' from the mouth of Gabriel, establishing us in peace, transforming the name of 'Eva.'"

The unimaginable generosity of God shown in the Annunciation and Incarnation required one thing: Mary’s assent. Reflecting on this mystery, St. Bernard of Clairvaux imagined the tension that creation felt in waiting for Mary’s response to the plan that the angel announced:
“If you consent, we shall immediately be set free. We all have been made in the eternal Word of God, and look, we are dying. In your brief reply we shall be restored and so brought back to life… My lady, say this word which earth and hell and heaven itself are waiting for. The very King and Lord of all, he who has so desired your beauty, is waiting anxiously for your answer and assent, by which he proposes to save the world. Him whom you pleased by your silence, you will please now even more by your word. If you let him hear your voice, then, he will let you see our salvation.”

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Purpose of Art

Below is an excerpt from a documentary titled "Why Beauty Matters," by Roger Scruton, a British writer and philosopher.  In this documentary he delves into the meaning and the purpose of art, what it meant in the past, what it means today, and how these changes have affected humanity and our culture. I hope to watch more of the documentary once midterms have ceased, but for now I shall be content with this quote, which is jam-packed with insight into the historic and modern view of art.

Detail of St. Cecilia by Stefano Maderno
"The great artists of the past were aware that human life is full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this and the name of that remedy was beauty - the beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worthwhile. Many modern artists have grown weary of this sacred task. ... No longer does art have a sacred status. No longer does it raise us to a higher, moral, or spiritual plain. It is just one human gesture among others, no more meaningful than a laugh or a shout. Art once made a cult of beauty. Now we have a cult of ugliness instead. Since the world is disturbing, art should be disturbing, too. Those who look for beauty in art are just out of touch with modern realities. Sometimes the intention is to shock us, but what is shocking first time round is boring and vacuous when repeated. This makes art into an elaborate joke, though one by now that has ceased to be funny. Yet the critics go on endorsing it, afraid to say the emperor has no clothes."   -- Roger Scruton, British writer and philosopher.