Thursday, October 23, 2014

Another Rosary Book Giveaway!

Like Mother Like Daughter's Rosary Book giveaway has just ended, but Living With Lady Philosophy's giveaway has begun!

This week's giveaway includes an interview with me, wherein I explain my inspiration for creating the Sacred Art Series Rosary Book:
Susanna: What inspired you to put together the rosary book?
Will: About a year ago, my sister, Emily Ortega, published her first book I'm Bernadette. [I, Susanna, reviewed the book here.] About the same time, my brother, Benjamin Bloomfield, edited his first book, A Collection of Christmas Carols. I soon was inspired to begin my own publishing project: a version of the Gospels for children, featuring a story-by-story format, large font, and beautiful images of sacred art. That project has evolved over the last year into The Sacred Art Series, the flagship product of which will be released this Advent, The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. This book will feature a leatherette cover, gilded pages, a sewn binding, and a ribbon.

Read the rest of the interview at Living with Lady Philosophy.

Also, note that the Amazon coupon code ROSARYBK for $3 off remains applicable through the end of October. Buy the 4x5 Rosary Book here; Buy the 8x10 Rosary book here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feast of Christ the King

In the traditional calendar, the last Sunday of October is the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel comes from John 18:33-37, and reads:
At that time, Pilate said to Jesus, Are You the King of the Jews? Jesus answered, Do you say this of yourself, or have others told you of Me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own people and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My followers would certainly have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, My kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to Him, You are then a King? Jesus answered, You say it: I am a King. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.
A few verses later, St. John continues:
Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head; and they put on Him a purple garment. And they came to Him, and said: Hail, king of the Jews; and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring Him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in Him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And He saith to them: Behold the Man.
The scene of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) has been frequently depicted in art. The below painting comes from Caravaggio (1605). (Learn more about Caravaggio here with the Khan Academy.)

Behold the Man. Behold Jesus Christ, truly the King of the Jews and of all men. Behold Jesus Christ, crowned with thorns and mocked; Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem; Christ, who was to be stretched on the cross to die for men; Christ, who is Truth and the very Word of God; Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.

As moving as it is to contemplate the sufferings of Christ, of course, through His Resurrection and Ascension, Christ has conquered death and now reigns with the Father. So let us close our meditation on Christ the King by considering Him in His Glory. This is by Fra Angelico (c. 1423).

Thy kingdom come!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sacred Art Series Rosary Book Giveaway

Today, Leila Lawler at the Like Mother Like Daughter Blog is hosting a Sacred Art Series Rosary Book giveaway. Thanks Leila!

She also includes a great review of the Rosary Book. Here's an excerpt, and a picture of the 8" x 10" Rosary Book from Leila's blog:

Praying the Rosary just got more beautiful with a resource that we’ve kind of been wishing for over the years! 
The Sacred Art Series Rosary Book will be so helpful with small children during the rosary. It features a built-in sturdy cardboard desktop easel so that it stands on its own, and each page presents one of the original fifteen Mysteries. 

 So join the giveaway, buy a copy (or two), or add to your Amazon wishlist. These will make great Christmas gifts!

Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist and Exciting News!

Happy Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (October 18)!

St. Luke is not only one of the Evangelists, he is also the patron of artists, so this is an excellent day to share exciting news with you regarding the latest volume in the Sacred Art SeriesThe Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John is now at the printer! It will be available shortly after Thanksgiving and will make a great Christmas gift.

This unique volume of the Gospels is designed for children (but is also suitable for adults) and is meant to inspire a daily habit of reading the scriptures by introducing children to the Gospels. To make the Gospels more accessible to children, it features beautiful sacred art from artists such as Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Titian, Duccio, Fra Angelico, and Giotto; it also presents the actual text of the Gospels in a story-by-story format with large print.

The The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John will be available through Amazon.com. For the latest updates, follow this blog or "like" the Sacred Art Series Facebook page.

The below painting of St. Luke is by Vladimir Borovikovsky (c. 1804).

UPDATE: And here's a great post by Jimmy Akin at the National Catholic Register, St. Luke: 10 things to know and share.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila and Bernini

October 15th is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila. The great 17th century sculptor Bernini crafted the below masterpiece "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila.

Here is the entry from Butler's Lives of the Saints (Benzinger Brothers 1894 edition):
WHEN a child of seven years, Teresa ran away from her home at Avila in Spain, in the hope of being martyred by the Moors. Being brought back and asked the reason of her flight, she replied, "I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him." She then began with her brother to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating "Forever, forever." Some years later she became a Carmelite nun. Frivolous conversations checked her progress towards perfection, but at last, in her thirty-first year, she gave herself wholly to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her own light faults would have led her, and she lived ever after in the deepest distrust of self. She was called to reform her Order, favored with distinct commands from Our Lord, and her heart was pierced with divine love; but she dreaded nothing so much as delusion, and to the last acted only under obedience to her confessors, which both made her strong and kept her safe. She died on October 4, 1582.
Reflection.—"After all I die a child of the Church." These were the Saint's last words. They teach us the lesson of her life—to trust in humble, childlike obedience to our spiritual guides as the surest means of salvation.
And here's a painting of St. Teresa by Peter Paul Rubens (c. 1615).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of the Sacred Art Series Rosary Book

The Splendor in the Home blog referenced the Sacred Art Series Rosary Book in a post today:
Speaking of the Rosary, our nightly prayers have definitely been enriched since we got this beautiful Rosary book with depictions of all the mysteries.  There's not much room left on the top of our home altar, so the small sized one was perfect for us.  Sly has really enjoyed flipping the pages while we pray to see what the next mystery is, and explain to us what's happening in each painting.  And I find it's also improved my ability to focus on the mystery and pay better attention to my prayers.
Anna, a regular commenter here, makes these stand-up booklets along with her husband.  They are creating various resources that use sacred art to teach and inspire people in the Faith.  Please consider supporting this great family business.

Thanks for the kind words!

The month of the Rosary continues. Get yours today!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary - October 7

October 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. And the whole month of October is the month of the Rosary. So now is a an excellent time to recommit yourself to this wonderful devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, Mary.

During the last year, I joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, whose website explains:
The Rosary Confraternity is a spiritual association (of the Catholic Church), the members of which strive to pray the entire Rosary during the course of each week. They form a union of countless hundreds of thousands of the faithful throughout the world who, along with their own intentions, include the intentions and needs of all its members, while they in turn pray for them.
Praying the entire Rosary means praying the fifteen decades of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries once a week. Members are encouraged to pray the Luminous Mysteries each week as well. 15 decades a week is something that we can all do. It only means praying 2 decades for six days of the week, and three decades once a week. This could be a decade in the morning, and a decade in the evening; perhaps one on the way to work, and one on the way back; or one while driving the kids to school or to the store, and one on the way back. And over time, you may find that you're ready to pray a full five decades a day, and maybe add in the five Luminous Mysteries as well.

Of course, the goal of the Rosary is not to tally as many Our Father's and Hail Mary's as one can. The goal is to draw closer to Mary and her divine Son, Jesus Christ. And this is precisely what happens as we meditate on the 20 mysteries, day after day over the course of our lives. One way to aid us in our prayer is by meditating on a beautiful image of sacred art. This can help us to concentrate on the particular mystery that we are praying. It was with this in mind that I developed the Sacred Art Series Rosary Book, available for purchase here.

Saint Louis De Montfort's wonderful book, the Secret of the Rosary, offers many other great suggestions for improving one's devotion to the Rosary and for praying the Rosary with greater fervor and attention. (A print version of De Montfort's Secret of the Rosary is available here.)

Lastly, here is the image that I used for the Sacred Art Series Rosary Book, the Fifteen Mysteries and the Virgin of the Rosary, by Nethlandish Painter (possibly Goswijn van der Weyden), which is featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

St. Francis of Assisi and Giotto

Yesterday, October 4, was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis is one of the world's favorite saints, and thus has been frequently depicted in works of art. Some of the most famous works of art depicting St. Francis are found in the Upper Church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. Traditionally, these works were believed be painted by the great 13th century Florentine painter Giotto. Although this belief was questioned in the 20th century, some art historians still maintain the traditional view crediting Giotto for these works.

Wikipedia includes all 28 images from the Upper Church and you may see them here. I'll simply reproduce two here, Saint Francis receiving the stigmata.

And here is the death and ascension of St. Francis.

Lastly, here is the account of St. Francis from an abridged version of Butler's Lives of the Saints:
ST. FRANCIS, the son of a merchant of Assisi, was born in that city in 1182. Chosen by God to be a living manifestation to the world of Christ's poor and suffering life on earth, he was early inspired with a high esteem and burning love of poverty and humiliation. The thought of the Man of Sorrows, Who had not where to lay His head, filled him with holy envy of the poor, and constrained him to renounce the wealth and worldly station which he abhorred. The scorn and hard usage which he met with from his father and townsmen when he appeared among them in the garb of poverty were delightful to him. "Now," he exclaimed, "I can say truly, 'Our Father Who art in heaven.'" But divine love burned in him too mightily not to kindle like desires in other hearts. Many joined themselves to him, and were constituted by Pope Innocent III. into a religious Order, which spread rapidly throughout Christendom. St. Francis, after visiting the East in the vain quest of martyrdom, spent his life like his Divine Master—now in preaching to the multitudes, now amid desert solitudes in fasting and contemplation. During one of these retreats he received on his hands, feet, and side the print of the five bleeding wounds of Jesus. With the cry, "Welcome, sister Death," he passed to the glory of his God October 4, 1226.
Reflection.—"My God and my all," St. Francis’ constant prayer, explains both his poverty and his wealth.