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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Feast of the Epiphany - Catholic Tradition to Bless the Lintel of your Front Door for the New Year

Adoration of the Magi - Domenico Ghirlandaio 


The Epiphany of the Lord
We Three Kings of Orient Are

 We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Adoration of the Magi - Peter Paul Rubens

To orient ourselves means to get our bearings, to know where we are, or to find ourselves. Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord, the day when Tradition tells us, that Magi bearing gifts traveled from the Orient following a star seeking the “newborn king of the Jews” in Bethlehem. As they gazed upon this newborn king, the baby Jesus, they “found themselves” suddenly aware that what they were witnessing, what had been “made known” to them, was the manifestation of Christ not only to themselves, but to all peoples. The Magi had experienced an epiphany; or rather they experienced The Epiphany.
Adoration of the Magi - Hieronymus Bosch

House Blessing on the Epiphany
It is a Catholic custom to gather as a family and ask God’s blessing on their home on the Feast of the Epiphany by marking the lintel of the front door with chalk blessed by a priest.
We were first introduced to this at Mass in Winters, California in 2012.  It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows all year long.  It has been our tradition ever since.
Use white chalk blessed by your parish priest, and write the numbers and letters 20 + C + M + B + whatever the year is on the lintel of your front door frame. This year we write 20 + C + M + B + 20.  Then offer a simple prayer to God asking for His blessings such as:
Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of thy law, and thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  And may this blessing remain upon our home and upon all who enter or dwell herein.  This we pray through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 
The letters C, M, B have two meanings:

They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. 

They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless this house.”

The “+” sign represents the cross and the number the year, 2020. 
May God bless you and yours during this new year. 
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Religious Art - Public Domain



Monday, December 30, 2019

Adoration of the Magi

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)




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Adoration of the Magi - Giorgione (1477/78 - 1590)



Matthew 1: 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" 


Adoration of the Kings - Gerard David (1460 - 1523)

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."  

Adoration - Jan Gossaert (1478 – 1532)


After their audience with the king they set out.  And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.   They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.



The Adoration of the Magi - Peter Paul Rubens (1577- 1640)

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Picture Source - Public Domain


The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index






Friday, December 27, 2019

Annunciation to the Shepherds / Adoration of the Shepherds in Religious Art

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)



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Annunciation to the Shepherds - Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem (1620 - 1683)



Luke 2: 8 -14 

Now there were shepherds in the region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.  The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.


Annunciation to the Shepherds - Abraham Bloemaert (1566 - 1651)


The angel said to them, "do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born to you who is Messiah and Lord. 


The Adoration of the Shepherds - Hugo van der Goes (c 1430/1440 - 1482)



And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."     


Adoration of the Shepherds - El Greco (1541 - 1614)
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Picture Source - Public Domain


The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Birth of Christ - Sandro Botticelli (c. 11445 - 1510)

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)



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The Birth of Christ - Sandro Botticelli (1500)


Known as the Mystical Nativity, this portrays Mary, the ox and the donkey watching over Jesus while Joseph is sleeping.  The three men in long gowns kneeling to the left of the stable are the Maji.  The shepherds are kneeling to the right. The angels carry olive branches symbolizing peace and the heavens are opened up to the stable below.  In the corners demons can be seen running from the scene.  



Luke 2: 6 - 7 


While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 

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Picture Source - Public Domain

The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index


For church supplies and  gift items
related to the Catholic Church

please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures 

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Nativity in Art (Andrea Sabatini / Rogier van der Weyden / Lorenzo Lotto / Geertgen tot Sint Jans)

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)




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The Nativity - Andrea Sabbatini 


The Nativity (part of the Bladelin Altarpiece) - Rogier van der Weyden

The Nativity - Lorenzo Lotto 

Nativity by Night - Geertgen tot Sint Jans 


Luke 2: 6 - 7 



While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 


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Picture Source - Public Domain

The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index


For church supplies and  gift items
related to the Catholic Church

please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures 

Friday, December 20, 2019

The Census at Bethlehem - Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525/1530 - 1569)

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)



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The Census at Bethlehem - Pieter Bruegel the Elder  (1566)


Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicts in this oil painting the Gospel scene from Luke 2: 1-4 as a Flemish village in the winter.  In the detail below, Mary and Joseph make their way to the building to be counted in the census.  


Detail The Census at Bethlehem

Mary and Joseph register for the census before Governor Quirinius - Byzantine Mosaic  (c. 1315)


Luke 2: 1-4 


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.  This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.   And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 


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Picture Source - Public Domain

The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index



For church supplies and  gift items

related to the Catholic Church

please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mary and Joseph Journey to Bethlehem in Religious Art

Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other.” (CCC 1160)



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Mary and Joseph on the way to Bethlehem - Hugo Van der Goes (1430/1440 - 1482)


Journey to Bethlehem - c. 1320  mosaic Istanbul, Turkey


Mary and Joseph made this 80 mile journey to Bethlehem when Mary was near her time to give birth. There were no paved roads, no rest stops, they did not have advanced reservations for accommodations and they traveled by donkey. Just something to reflect on while reading the Gospel passage below which is depicted in the artwork above.   

Luke 2: 1-4 


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.  This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.   And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 



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Picture Source - Public Domain

The Role of Religious Art in Faith Formation - Month of December 2019 Index



For church supplies and  gift items
related to the Catholic Church

please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures