Saturday, December 12, 2015

Our Lady of Guadalupe - December 12

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Below the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the story of Our Lady's appearance to St. Juan Diego, which comes from today's Office of Readings (Hat Tip: www.divineoffice.org)

At daybreak one Saturday morning in 1531, on the very first days of the month of December, an Indian named Juan Diego was going from the village where he lived to Tlatelolco in order to take part in divine worship and listen to God’s commandments. When he came near the hill called Tepeyac, dawn had already come, and Juan Diego heard someone calling him from the very top of the hill: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.”

He went up the hill and caught sight of a lady of unearthly grandeur whose clothing was as radiant as the sun. She said to him in words both gentle and courteous: “Juanito, the humblest of my children, know and understand that I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live. It is my ardent desire that a church be erected here so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection to all who inhabit this land and to those others who love me, that they might call upon and confide in me. Go to the Bishop of Mexico to make known to him what I greatly desire. Go and put all your efforts into this.”

When Juan Diego arrived in the presence of the Bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, a Franciscan, the latter did not seem to believe Juan Diego and answered: “Come another time, and I will listen at leisure.”

Juan Diego returned to the hilltop where the Heavenly Lady was waiting, and he said to her: “My Lady, my maiden, I presented your message to the Bishop, but it seemed that he did not think it was the truth. For this reason I beg you to entrust your message to someone more illustrious who might convey it in order that they may believe it, for I am only an insignificant man.”

She answered him: “Humblest of my sons, I ask that tomorrow you again go to see the Bishop and tell him that I, the ever virgin holy Mary, Mother of God, am the one who personally sent you.”
But on the following day, Sunday, the Bishop again did not believe Juan Diego and told him that some sign was necessary so that he could believe that it was the Heavenly Lady herself who sent him. And then he dismissed Juan Diego.

On Monday Juan Diego did not return. His uncle, Juan Bernardino, became very ill, and at night asked Juan to go to Tlatelolco at daybreak to call a priest to hear his confession.

Juan Diego set out on Tuesday, but he went around the hill and passed on the other side, toward the east, so as to arrive quickly in Mexico City and to avoid being detained by the Heavenly Lady. But she came out to meet him on that side of the hill and said to him: “Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you. Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care? Do not let your uncle’s illness distress you. It is certain that he has already been cured. Go up to the hilltop, my son, where you will find flowers of various kinds. Cut them, and bring them into my presence.”

When Juan Diego reached the peak, he was astonished that so many Castilian roses had burst forth at a time when the frost was severe. He carried the roses in the folds of his tilma (mantle) to the Heavenly Lady. She said to him: “My son, this is the proof and the sign which you will bring to the Bishop so that he will see my will in it. You are my ambassador, very worthy of trust.”

Juan Diego set out on his way, now content and sure of succeeding. On arriving in the Bishop’s presence, he told him: “My lord, I did what you asked. The Heavenly Lady complied with your request and fulfilled it. She sent me to the hilltop to cut some Castilian roses and told me to bring them to you in person. And this I am doing, so that you can see in them the sign you seek in order to carry out her will. Here they are; receive them.”

He immediately opened up his white mantle, and as all the different Castilian roses scattered to the ground, there was drawn on the cloak and suddenly appeared the precious image of the ever virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the same manner as it is today and is kept in her shrine of Tepeyac.

The whole city was stirred and came to see and admire her venerable image and to offer prayers to her; and following the command which the same Heavenly Lady gave to Juan Bernardino when she restored him to health, they called her by the name that she herself had used: “the ever virgin holy Mary of Guadalupe.”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cyber Monday Sale - 25% Off

Our Black Friday Sale was a success, so I've decided to extend the 25% off sale for Cyber Monday.

All day, Cyber Monday, November 30th, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, use discount code SACREDRT for 25% off any Sacred Art Series item at Amazon.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sacred Art Series Giveaway

Leila Lawler's excellent Like Mother Like Daughter blog is hosting a Sacred Art Series giveaway. The winner will be selected next Thursday. Head on over and enter to win a copy of The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John or a set of the Rosary Flip Books.

Leila has also reviewed the products. Here's a great line from Leila's review:

In addition, the Gospels offer something I think we’ve all looked for — not Bible stories but the actual Scriptures — but presented without the distraction of notes and numbers. Of course we all have our study Bibles handy. But for prayer and for the young person who is past Bible stories but still needs something simpler (yet still with a good translation and beautiful production), this edition can NOT be beat. Perfect for your teenage godson, perfect for your spouse.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy All Saints' Day!

Here's the beautiful Introit Gaudeamus in omnes Domino for today's Mass:

Translation: Let us all rejoice in the Lord , celebrating a festival day, in honor of all: at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. In the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright. Glory...

And this excerpt from a sermon of St. Bernard comes from today's Office of Readings:

"Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory."

And to spur us on, here's Fra Angelico's beautiful painting of the forerunners of Christ with the saints and martyrs.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kyrie from Pope Francis's Mass at Madison Square Garden

Yesterday's Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden included some beautiful sacred music.

I'd like to draw your attention to the Kyrie, which starts at 25:20.

Traditionally, in the Catholic Mass, the Kyrie is sung in this form:

Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy)
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison (Chris have mercy)
Christe eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

The great Benedictine Dom Prosper Gueranger (1805 - 1875) explained that the three sets of three emphasize the Trinity: the first three are sung to God the Father, the second three to God the Son, and the third three to God the Holy Spirit.

In the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the Mass as revised following Vatican II), the Kyrie is usually done with three sets of two:

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

Typically the cantor sings the first of each series and then the congregation echoes the response.  In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, three sets of three is allowed, but it is seldom done.

So I was thrilled to see the Kyrie sung in the traditional form at the Papal Mass in New York City. And I especially liked how they did it. The first Kyrie was the most basic of chanted Kyrie's. This allowed the congregation to sing the response. And then the third of each set was sung a capella in a lovely polyphonic setting.

By doing it this way, the congregation was able to participate in the singing of the Ordinary, the Trinity was emphasized with the three sets of three, and the Mass was given added solemnity, befitting a Papal Mass, by incorporating sacred polyphony.

Well done!

October - Month of the Rosary

October is the month of the Rosary. Do you pray the family Rosary? If not, October is a great month to start, and we're almost there. So resolve today to begin this October.

If five decades is too much for your little ones, consider beginning with just one decade. Also, consider using images of the Rosary to help you meditate on the mysteries as you pray your Our Father's,  Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's. It was with this in mind that I created the Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book. Hopefully it will be as helpful for your family as it has been for mine.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Below: Madonna of the Rosary by Guido Reni

Monday, September 21, 2015

Feast of St. Matthew

Happy Feast of St. Matthew!

Matthew, of course, was a tax collector called by Christ to be one of his Apostles. Matthew is also one of the four Evangelists and is the patron of bankers and accountants.

Here is today's Gospel reading for Mass:

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.”And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrificeI did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Here is a very well known Caravaggio entitled the calling of St. Matthew. If you're not already familiar with this series of videos produced by SmartHistory and the Khan Academy, they are well worth exploring through the Khan Academy. Here is the link to their Renaissance videos.

The above painting is located in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome along with two other paintings by Caravaggio regarding St. Matthew: (1) The Inspiration of St. Matthew and (2) The Martyrdom of St. Matthew. Both are below.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sacred Art on Vacation

My family just returned from vacation to Wisconsin. During the trip we visited Marytown (the Shrine of the Militia Immaculata), Mundelein Seminary (right next to Marytown), the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Shrine of Holy Hill, the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, and St. John Cantius in Chicago.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Gudadulupe is a great example of a beautiful church of recent construction. In addition to its fine architecture, the Shrine also has some lovely paintings of mostly recent saints, including St. Gianna, St. Maria Goretti, and Blessed Miguel Pro. (Regrettably, I did not have the opportunity to take photos of these, but the Shrine's website has many here.)

St. John Cantius in Chicago is also very beautiful and is known for its beautiful liturgies, many in the Extraordinary Form.

But the Basilica of St. Josaphat! This I was not expecting. I only went there out of curiosity because it looked so large from the highway. It is simply stunning! And it has been so beautifully restored. Every corner of this wonderful church is awe-inspiring: the dome, the baldacchino, the windows, the side altars, the stations. If you're every driving through Milwaukee, you simply must stop here, and it's right off I-94. (Sorry my exterior photos are so bad, but it was raining.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Version of the Large Rosary Flip Book - Now Available!

A new version of the Large Rosary Flip Book is now available at Amazon!

The very first product of the Sacred Art Series was the 8" x 10" version of the Rosary Flip Book, which I designed to help families pray the rosary. Praying the rosary without images to meditate on is difficult; and strangely, there seemed to be no such aid already in existence. But whenever you create something new, you also wonder whether others will actually find it helpful. Maybe there's a reason nobody created this before?

Less than a year after the 8" x 10" version was released, I am happy to report that it has sold out! I am grateful especially to bloggers Leila Lawler (Like Mother Like Daughter Blog) and Kendra Tierney (Catholic All Year) whose favorable reviews and many readers helped generate early publicity for the Rosary Flip Books and the Sacred Art Series.

Over the last year, I've released a small 4" x 5" Rosary Flip Book, a 6" x 6" Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book, and the flagship of the Sacred Art Series, The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, which is a unique and beautifully illustrated one volume life of Christ. The last year has also given me time to consider comments from buyers and to look for ways to improve the Sacred Art Series and to continue developing new devotional aids to help our families grow in holiness.

So now that the 8" x 10" Rosary Flip Book is sold out, it's time to replace it with a new and improved version, which will simply be called the Large Rosary Flip Book. The Large Rosary Flip Book's dimensions are 7" x 8.75" and thus is slightly smaller than its predecessor. I found that slightly decreasing the size made the stand sturdier and increased the resolution of the image; and despite the slightly reduced size, the images remain plenty large enough to be seen from across the room.

We hope you all like the new and improved Large Rosary Flip Book.

In the below picture, the Large Rosary Flip Book is in the center; to its left is the Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book; to its right, the Small (4" x 5") Rosary Flip Book.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fathers for Good interview regarding Sacred Art Series

Fathers for Good, an apostolate of the Knights of Columbus, recently interviewed me regarding the Sacred Art Series. Check it out here!

Also, good news: a new edition of the large Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book is coming soon! The new edition will be slightly smaller (7" x 8.75" instead of 8" x 10"). This slightly smaller size improved the image resolution and made the stand sturdier; and the images still are plenty large enough to seen from across the room.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Liturgical Movement - Two Books for Children

The New Liturgical Movement's Dr. Peter Kwasniewski posted today regarding two books for children. Read about it here. His post also linked to his review from last December regarding the Sacred Art Series' The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. If you missed the review then, here's the link. And here's an excerpt:
My photos don’t really do it justice, but they will give you a sense of how Bloomfield has made a reader’s Bible that is both maximally useful and unquestionably beautiful. As a teacher of Scripture, I can testify that Bloomfield is right to say that beginning readers are often distracted and discouraged by the unfriendly layout of most Bibles, with their tiny print, dual columns, chapter and verse numbers, footnotes, and other paraphernalia that almost amount to a warning: “This book that you are now holding is an old, technical, difficult, forbidding tome that you can’t just open up and enjoy reading. Think twice before diving in.”  This new book has just the opposite effect: you want to take it up and read it as the story that it is -- the greatest story ever told.
Thanks again to Dr. Kwasniewski for his kind review!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sacred Art Series Giveaway at Carrots for Michaelmas

The Carrots for Michaelmas Blog has a giveaway and review of the Sacred Art Series' The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John and of the Rosary Flip Book. Here's an excerpt of the review regarding the Gospels:

Immediately, my six-year-old and three-year-old started commenting on how much they loved the pictures and how beautiful they were. We ended up having some great conversations about the passages and the art because the images really sparked their imaginations and they asked tons of questions. So definitely a win. I think it’s perfect for family Scripture reading.

Head on over to Carrots for Michaelmas to enter. There's also a discount code within the blog post, so buy yours today through www.SacredArtSeries.com.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Corpus Christi

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, where in a particular way (and often with an accompanying Eucharistic procession), we honor and reverence the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lord's Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Here is what St. Thomas Aquinas says about the Eucharist (found in today's Office of Readings):

Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

  It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.

St. Thomas Aquinas's beautiful hymn, Adoro te devote, expresses these truths poetically (The English translation that follows is from Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.):

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et Humanitas,
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro pœnitens.
On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor:
Deum tamen meum te confiteor.
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O memoriale mortis Domini!
Panis vivus, vitam præstans homini!
Præsta meæ menti de te vívere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beátus tuæ gloriæ. Amen
Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory's sight. Amen.

Incidentally, I just returned from a trip to France, where I visited St. Thomas Aquinas's tomb at the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse. Here's a picture.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy Pentecost!

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love.

Here is the image for the 3rd Glorious Mystery, Pentecost, from the set of images used for the Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book. And below is the Sequence for Pentecost. It is meant to be sung immediately preceding the Gospel as Mass on Pentecost.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19 - Saint Yves, Patron Saint of Lawyers

Today is the feast of Saint Yves, who is the patron saint of lawyers; although in recent centuries, he has been overshadowed by the great St. Thomas More. It was said of Saint Yves, "Sanctus Ivo erat Brito, Advocatus et non latro, Res mirando populo," which translated means "Saint Yves was a Breton and a lawyer, but not a thief, a remarkable thing in the people's eyes." So they were making lawyer jokes even well before Shakespeare's time.

The Detroit Institute of Arts has a wonderful--and very large--painting of St. Yves by the great artist Peter Paul Rubens.

Saint Yves, patron of lawyers, pray for us!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Monks of Norcia Chant CD

The Sacred Art Series is an enthusiastic supporter of Gregorian Chant. As Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium explained, this is the music that should be given the first place at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is also the music of the Liturgy of the Hours. Gregorian Chant's rhythms and melodies are timeless and help encourage meditative, reflective, and contemplative prayer.

So we are delighted to share that one of our favorite communities of monks, the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, are releasing a CD of Gregorian Chant through DeMontfort Music. You can pre-order the album here. And not only will you get an excellent CD of chant, part of the proceeds will benefit this great community of monks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book - Now Available!

The Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book is now available at Amazon!

Use discount code LUMINOUS for 15% off one or 25% off three items or more from the Sacred Art Series. (To get the discount, be sure to buy all items from seller Bloomfield Books.) The Amazon product pages for all Sacred Art Series items are linked at www.SacredArtSeries.com.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

First Communion Sale through April 19

The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John from the Sacred Art Series is an ideal First Communion Gift. So with First Communion-season upon us, Sacred Art Series is offering 20% off this exquisite gift. (The book retails for $39.95, so 20% off brings the price to $32.)

Get yours today by entering discount code FIRSTCMN when checking out at Amazon. (Be sure to select "See All Buying Options" and select seller Bloomfield Books; then enter the code at checkout.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book - Coming Soon!

UPDATE: The Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book is now available at Amazon!

The Rosary Flip Book includes images of the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary: the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.

I'm excited to announce that the Luminous Mysteries Rosary Flip Book will soon be available for purchase. It will feature the five Luminous Mysteries, which are the Baptism in the Jordan, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist. The artwork is from Giotto and Fra Angelico. This flip book will be 6" x 6".

Here it is!

And this photo shows it in between the small Rosary Flip Book and the large Rosary Flip Book.