How an Icon is Painted — 2 Months in 2 Minutes!

tumblr_mda7l5myo81rb44tmo1_500Iconography is the oldest tradition of Christian sacred art, embodying the work of thousands of iconographers, many of whom were themselves saints. Unlike other approaches to painting, the creation of an icon does not begin in the artist’s imagination. Rather, the iconographer’s first work is to study how the subject at hand has been traditionally depicted in this rich artistic tradition.s-carmelite-large Through the centuries, many monks and cloistered religious, especially in the Eastern tradition, would write icons which serves as an intense form of prayer. Much prayer and fasting goes into creating this sacred art. Here is an amazing link to a video of how the icon “O Holy Night” was conceived and painted, and below that a step by step walkthrough of the stages in the creation of an icon, in this case of St. John the Baptist. For more information on how icons are written, visit here.

Poor Clares of Roswell Capture Beauty of Enclosed Life in Video

Poor-Clare-Monastery-in-Ros“What is beauty?” and “In our life, what strikes you as beautiful?” These were the questions proposed by the Mother Abbess to the youngest members of the Poor Clare community in Roswell, New Mexico, for a special video presentation.

Wanting to benefit from the insights of all, they in turn invited each of the sisters to reflect upon the nature of beauty and the expressions of the beautiful found within our monastic enclosure. “God is Beauty,” all agreed, “and He both reveals and conceals that beauty in the glimpses of Himself that we are blessed to perceive this side of heaven.” And, in a particular way, “Beauty is Jesus Christ.”

After the expression of these most essential realities of their Poor Clare life, a pattern emerged in the wide range of responses which allowed the nuns to categorize insights and suggested images under the headings of: –  Beauty in the Liturgy –  Beauty in their Customs – Becoming Whole –  Beauty Perceived by the Senses –  Beauty in their Bridal Covenant with Jesus Then began a two-month long enterprise of translating a little portion of those large possibilities expressive of beauty into a concrete form genuinely reflective of their  Poor Clare life. Evening recreations in the novitiate were often spent gathered around the common room table, discussing, planning, selecting. A small video camera donated by the younger old sister of their postulant was the first piece of equipment, supplemented by the seven and a half minutes of video-capacity on the community’s camera, with both together eventually producing hundreds of video and sound clips of their daily life and observance. An adjustable music stand (already doubling as the Mass lectern) was called into service as a make-shift tripod. And, finally, a bargain sale purchase by one of their families at an eBay store enhanced the capacities of a donated laptop to include a suitable movie-making program, a critical component for coalescing the final selection of 253 pieces of image and sound into one united whole. Filming and editing, stabilizing and refining, each of the novitiate members and their mistress contributed according to their particular areas of proficiency, with all of them coming together on a daily basis for consensus as they worked through each category for presentation. The video in itself is one of the most beautiful aspects of their shared vocation – that every one of the sisters and all of them together were needed to create, maintain and foster beauty in their Poor Clare life. To view the video click here.

Contemplatives of Saint Joseph Contribute to Life and Holiness of the Church

COSJChapelThe Contemplatives of Saint Joseph (COSJ), a Catholic religious institute of consecrated men, was founded recently within the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The priests and brothers of the COSJ lead a life of deep contemplative prayer and serve in an active apostolate within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area dioceses. They are a Public Clerical Association of the Christian Faithful as decreed by Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco. The priests and brothers, immersing themselves in contemplative prayer, desire to enter into the kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With St. Joseph, they bear about them a prayerful interior silence which aids their daily contemplative and intercessory prayer, as well as helping them to bring the Light of God’s love into the active apostolate. Discerning that it is God who chose them to join the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph, the priests and brothers have the faith and confidence to bear witness to their calling as contemplative souls within the modern world. The priests and brothers spend significant part of each day in contemplative spiritual practice. This intense spiritual lifestyle prepares them to become proficient in matters dealing with their active apostolate. Why they are committed to lives of deep prayer and contemplation and expressed in an active apostolate and to the life of the Church is stated beautifully and profoundly by Pope Paul VI: “The work of contemplation overflows, benefiting the entire Church. The Church needs this work of contemplation that it may protect its life and increase its growth. The Church is in dire need of those who excel in the interior life and are intent upon recollecting themselves in God and be aflame, to their innermost being, with love for heavenly things. If such persons are lacking, if their lives are withered and weak, it necessarily follows that the strength of the whole Mystical Body of Christ is diminished. Consequently, serious damage would be inflicted on the knowledge of divine realities, theology, sacred preaching, the apostolate, and all the Christian life of the faithful” [Pope Paul VI, to the Cistercians, December 8, 1968]. The Contemplatives of Saint Joseph believe the contemplative life belongs not to himself alone, but to the life and holiness of the whole Church. The Church’s life becomes fuller because the COSJ join themselves by the gift of their whole lives to Christ in prayer and in firmly following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Within the monastery setting, members center their lives on full immersion into the Eucharist, cultivating the silence conducive to hearing the Word of God in the depths of their hearts. Their rhythm of prayer includes the Divine Office, interior prayer, study and practice of Catholic contemplative spirituality, intercessory prayer, the Jesus prayer, Lectio Divina with Sacred Scripture, filial devotion to Mary the Holy Mother of God, and adoration prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. In addition to daily Eucharist, the COSJ regularly hold a Chapter meeting to discuss monastery business and offer general spiritual direction. They have community meals; time is scheduled for manual, intellectual, and spiritual work. They pray together several times each day and their priests are able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, as well as the Byzantine-rite Divine Liturgy. For more information visit or view a video of their life here.

A Dominican Nun’s Vocation Story As Viewed from the Grille

MarburyThe Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama, withdraw from the world to be at the heart of the Church. Their primary mission as cloistered nuns is to pray for the salvation of souls and for the preaching mission of Dominican friars. The nuns strive to offer a sacrifice of praise to God especially through the solemn celebration of the Liturgy, chanted in Latin and English, and to be of “one mind and heart in the Lord” in living the monastic observances of common life, the vows, and the study of sacred truth. They also have the privilege of Eucharistic Adoration and Rosary, forming a Guard of Honor for Our Lady. In December a friend of the monastery, Fr. Benedict Croell, O.P. stopped by the convent on one of his road trips as Vocation Director for the St. Joseph Province of Dominican Friars. While visiting with the sisters, he took a video (through the grille!) of Sr. Mary Jordan telling her vocation story. Father Benedict was one of the first Dominicans Sister met, back when she was in high school youth group at the Dominican parish in Cincinnati. Historically a good number of the nuns at the Monastery of St. Jude chose a Dominican vocation because of the witness and guidance of the Dominican friars–a beautiful example of the complementarity of the different vocations within the Dominican Order. The sisters whom God led here by other ways come to cherish this relationship as well. One friar even told us that the presence and support of the nuns was a positive influence in his choosing a Dominican vocation. The most shining example of the mutual support of the Dominican friars and nuns is the correspondence and friendship between Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the second Master General of the Order, and Blessed Diana, the young lady who became the founding member of the monastery of Dominican Nuns in Bologna. (Sister Mary Jordan, the sister in the new vocation video, took Blessed Jordan as her patron.) To view the video click here.  
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