A Letter to Writers and Artists

An Open Letter to Fellow Artists Michael D. O’Brien Dear Friends I receive a very large number of letters from young Christian painters, writers, and musicians, and ask those of you who have written to me to forgive the lack … Continue reading

Subsidiarity in Art

Subsidiarity is the principle which states that freedoms and their inherent responsibilities are best managed by the smallest competent authority at the level most appropriate to the nature of the persons involved. For example, the family, not the state, is the “first teacher” of the family’s children. Governments may assist the family if parents are unable to exercise their subsidiarity, but the state should do so only as a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or personal level. In other words, the government and its administrative organs, such as a department of Education, must serve the family, and not the other way around.

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John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross

Building on the worldwide interest in the Biblical way of the Cross established by Pope John Paul II, authors Amy Wellborn and Michael Dubruiel have written meditations that invite readers to walk with Christ from Gethsemane to his death and … Continue reading

Pope Benedict XVI to Artists


The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation—if not beauty?


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The Year for Priests

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Saint Jean Vianney

To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Curé of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their Bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to his Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: “In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Curé of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!

 

Pope Benedict XVI, Letter proclaiming the Year for Priests, beginning on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2009.
 

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Historical Imagination and the Renewal of Culture

On some summer nights I like to take my children up the hill behind our house. We live far out in the country and no lights from other houses can be seen. The sky is like black glass reflecting nothing, but dazzling with billions of stars and planets. At the crest of the hill we lie in the grass. It takes a little time but we eventually grow quiet and still. The children lie on my chest or snuggle under my arm and look up. We gaze up, up into the infinite pool which bears the stars into being. Above us, on especially clear nights, with the aid of a low power telescope we can locate a tiny smudge of light which is the closest galaxy. It is spinning, spinning, but it is so far away that one could look for a whole lifetime and not see it alter. There are other galaxies out there, I tell my children, that whirl into each other like discs blending in space without colliding. They pass through each other, those billions of worlds, at thousands of miles per second, yet they do not appear to move at all. The children can just barely believe it, but they do believe it because I am their father and they trust me.

“The universe is deep,” I tell them. “You can look into it forever.”

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The Passion of William Kurelek

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The astonishing career of the Canadian Catholic painter William Kurelek is an anomaly in the history of modern religious art. His paintings hang in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hirschhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and several other museums in North America and Europe. During his lifetime he was honoured with more than thirty national and international awards, no less than six documentary films have been made of his life and work to date, and at least sixteen books of his stories and paintings have been published, including his great project, The Passion of Christ, a series of 160 illustrations of the Gospel of Matthew. Kurelek became increasingly well-known as his work was published and as he attracted more and more attention in international magazines. The New York Times called him “the North American Breughel.” Memories of his childhood surfaced in award-winning books such as A Prairie Boy’s Summer and A Prairie Boy’s Winter. His imaginative Northern Nativity, a redepiction of the birth of Christ in Canadian scenes, became a modern children’s classic. In later years he concentrated on several volumes which illustrated the life of the ethnic peoples of Canada: the Inuit, the Irish, the Jews, the Poles and the Ukrainians. At his death he left an estimated ten thousand works of art (a figure which includes major drawings), two thousand of which were paintings completed during the seventeen years between his first exhibition and his death in 1977. The fame which came to him during those public years was in stark contrast to the desolation of his early life as an artist, during which he labored under chronic depression and almost universal indifference to his message.


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A Quiet Little War

Those of you who have read my novels, or my articles on globalization, know that I believe that the radical model of “world governance” currently being promoted by the United Nations Organization and by other organizations will be a new form of totalitarianism, if it is ever fully realized. It’s my conviction that the globalism of the new world order will not bring order but instead will bring a semblance of order through total control over all sectors of private and public life. It will, in the process, infest life in the human community on this planet with all manner of disorders and anti-human dimensions. That kind of globalism embodies within its core presumptions certain errors about the meaning of the human person, and the human community. In a sense it represents the worst kind of ultra-nationalism, but inflated to the planetary scale, lacking the lavish diversity provided by numerous different cultures and nations states–a diversity that is essential for any human civilization. 

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A Wounding Beauty—Traces

This interview for Traces, the Italian language journal of the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation, appears in its July 2007 edition. The interviewer is Dr. Edoardo Rialti, a professor of literature in Florence, Italy, and translator of Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Thomas Howard and others.

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