minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Archive for the tag “incarnation”

December

Have a few updates I’m hoping to put out today. The last month of the calendar I completed about a weeks ago. I was very excited with this last calendar entry for a few reasons. I was looking forward to getting into new sections of a book of hours, (the gospel readings). December and Christmas are favorite times of the year and I had a lot of ideas for the art. I also planned to do some kind of Saint or Icon referencing the incarnation.

Really the first time to try drawing a Saint or human figure in the book. I know I have mentioned several times that I am a hack at this. Not really a refined artist, my calligraphy is not that great….. But drawing hands… yikes! I was happy with the Virgin Mary that I drew but those hands took several attempts to get right. I am satisfied with the final and hope this gets easier as I do plan to have more of this.

Ending the calendar I had planned for a while to have a winter scene with cardinals and snow. A simple scene of winter.

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Adventus – The Jesse Tree

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Jesse Tree from Illuminated manuscript

The season of Advent is here, the beginning of the Liturgical year in preparation for the Incarnation. The term comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming”, and it serves the church in two ways. It ties into the Second Coming; following last weeks Feast of Christ the King we await his return in Glory, and reminds us of the first coming which we celebrate yearly at Christmas.

Most people who celebrate Advent do so with the later in mind and the most popular custom today to keep Advent is the lighting of candles on an advent wreath. Throughout history, Advent has seen many different customs, some were strict fasts like those celebrated by it’s couterpart Lent. It has also been a time of penitence when people should make their way to confession.

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Jesse tree from a Book of Hours

Another tradition is that of the Jesse Tree. This symbol dates back to Bohemia in the middle ages and is basically a representation of the genealogy of Christ as found in the Gospel of Matthew, another “advent” as this text ties together the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. The Famous Chi Rho symbol announced this text in several old Gospel manuscripts like the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels. In the Middle Ages the use of the Jesse Tree found popularity in illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, and sculpted art in cathedrals and churches. And because of its tie in with Advent passage, an interesting devotion took root.
Starting with the first of December an ornament is hung on a tree representing a person or persons in the genealogy of Christ, which would start with Adam and Eve. Beginning at the bottom of the tree and working your way up to the top, which will end with the Infant Jesus. Scripture readings accompany the daily hanging of ornaments.

While this custom seems to be gaining popularity today, a revival of sorts, I had to wonder if the historical celebration of this had anything to do with our modern Christmas tree. The resemblance is obvious, and I could see how this tradition, passing through time, merely morphed into the Christmas tree. Another similar modern tradition is the Advent Calendar, which is a daily devotional leading us through the Advent season. If there is any tie in with the Jesse Tree it would be hard to prove, but I would place my bets that at least the Christmas Tree drew from this older tradition.

As Advent begins and in whatever way you keep it, Dominus Vobiscum!

Brother Lawrence

July 21st is the memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi; a Capuchin Franciscan priest, scholar, teacher and gifted with languages. He could read and speak fluently in Italian, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, French and some sources even suggest Syriac. More than just a tool to communicate, this gift also allowed him to read the Sacred Scriptures in their original languages as well as later translations. Further, it is claimed that he also knew the entire Bible in the original languages by memory, which along with his grasp of  languages is why this was considered a supernatural gifting.

Lawrence was born in Brindisi, Italy, July 22, 1559 under the name Giulio Cesare (Julius Ceasar). Taught by Franciscan Friars he would enter the Capuchins in 1575 taking the name Lawrence. He is the first Franciscan to be classed as a doctor of the church. Known for brilliant sermons, and teaching on the Sacred Scripture, he is one of many proofs that the Catholic Church in medieval europe was not lost on scripture as Protestantism would claim. As a matter of fact, St. Lawrence was instrumental in winning many Protestants back to the faith.

Lawrence believed that the incarnation was necessary regardless of sin:

“God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to
manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation
becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for
his own sake
. For him all things were created and to him all things must
be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the
first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created
world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have
been the case even if Adam had not sinned.

I find this an extremely fascinating subject; one that has been hinted by C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and several other authors in my own library. More to the point it puts to rest that sad criticism of God setting up mankind to fall. If Christ was intended whether or not man fell, then there was no need for man to fall as a requirement for the incarnation. No longer a necessity of predestination, mans fall is truly an act of free will, and here I see the importance of catholic teaching as the paradox of freewill and predestination are at a balance. Not teetering to either extreme of predestination or freewill; beliefs that make man a puppet or god impotent; it demonstrates how both predestination and freewill can operate together.

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