SEA OF ROSARIES: Our Lady of Sorrows (2018)

Our Lady of Sorrows ©2018 Alfred Eaker

To Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows by Arthur Symons

Lady of the seven sorrows which are love,
What sacrificial way
First led your feet to, those remoter heights
Which, for the uttermost delights
Of martyrs and Love’s saints, are set above
The Stations of the passion of our day?
Seven sorrows unto you has been desire
Since first your cheek grew pale.
And your astonished breath would fail,
And your eyes deepened into smouldering fire;
Seven sorrows from a child.
Nor has the soul which in you pants and rises
At any time been reconciled
With love and love’s intolerable disguises.
In the child’s morning-hour
You woke, and knew not the immortal power
Which in your ignorant veins was as the breeze
Troubling the waters of a little lake
And crying in the nests among the trees.
Fear bid you, trembling, wake,
And listen to the voice which seemed to shake
Bewildering prophecies
Unto the empty audience of the air.
The child, grown older, heard that voice again,
Nor heard that voice in vain.
You smiled, with a new meaning in your eyes,
As of some new, delightful care
Which made you suddenly mote wise,
Older, and to yourself more fair.
Then silence came about your lips, and laid
That tremulous shadow there,
Whereby the sorrows mark you for their own.
You woke and were afraid to be alone,
And full of some Strange joy to be afraid.First love, the hour it came,
You seemed to have remembered; and you knew
What a smoke-thwarted flame
Love’s torch is, and the jewel of love’s faith
How flawed, and by how many a name
The immortal comes to mortals, and how deal h
Is the first breath that love, made mortal, drew.
Therefore, not without tears.
And penitence, and a reluctant rapture,
All love’s and not your lover’s capture,
Not without sure, foreseeing fears
Of the unavoidable dedication of your years,
You entered on the way,
The way that was to be.Mortal, and pitiful, yet immortally
Predestinate to that illustrious grief
Whose extreme anguish is its own relief,
Lady of the seven sorrows, who shall say
The ardours of that way?
Men have looked up and seen you pass, and bowed
Into the dust to kiss your weary feet;
And you have passed, and they have cursed aloud
With dusty mouths to find the dust not sweet.
You have passed by; your eyes
Unalterably open in a dream,
Seeing alone the gleam
Of a far, mortal, azure paradise
Which your ecstatic feat is to attain,
Sometimes you linger, when men cry to you,
Linger as in a dream,
Linger in vain,
Having but shared, as they would have you do,
Some ecstasy of pain.
Therefore you shall be neither blessed nor cursed,
But pardoned, for you know not what you do;
And of all punishments the worst
Of punishments for you is to be you.
Go, neither blessed nor cursed:
We, all we too who suffer of you, throng
To make a royal passage for your feet,
When, in a dream, ere long,
They shall go sorrowfully up the Street.
You will pass by and not remember us,
We shall be Grange as any last year’s mirth;
It is not thus, so lightly, O not thus
You carry the seven sorrows of the earth.

SEA OF ROSARIES: THE MADONNA TEACHING HER CHRIST CHILD IN PRAYER

The Madonna teaching her Christ child in prayer ©2018 Alfred Eaker

Ave Maria by Hildegard of Bingen

Behold, Mary, you who increase life, who rebuilds the path,

You who confused death and wore down the serpent,

To you Eve raised herself up, her neck rigid with inflated arrogance.

You strode upon this arrogance

while bearing God’s Son of Heaven,

through whom the spirit of God breaths.

O gentle and loving Mother, I behold you.

For Heaven released into the world that which you brought forth.

This one, through whom the spirit of God breaths.

Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

And to this one, through whom the spirit of God breaths.

SEA OF ROSARIES: MADONNA OF NAGASAKI (with EDGAR ALLAN POE ‘HYMN’)

MADONNA OF NAGASAKI (SORROWFUL MYSTERY: AGONY IN THE GARDEN) ©2018 Alfred Eaker

 

Hymn by Edgar Allan Poe

At morn–at noon–at twilight dim–

Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!

In joy and woe–in good and ill–

Mother of God, be with me still!

When the Hours flew brightly by,

And not a cloud obscured the sky,

My soul, lest it should truant be,

Thy grace did guide to thine and thee

Now, when storms of Fate o’ercast

Darkly my Present and my Past,

Let my future radiant shine

With sweet hopes of thee and thine.

SEA OF ROSARIES: THE MARRIAGE OF OUR LADY TO ST. JOSEPH

The Marriage of Our Lady to St. Joseph ©2018 Alfred Eaker

A Christmas Card (Thomas Merton)

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brillancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

Christ, Our Mother: The Good Shepherd

Christ, Our Mother: The Good Shepherd ©2017 Alfred Eaker

The Sowing of Meanings (Thomas Merton)

See the high birds! Is their’s the song
That dies among the wood-light
Wounding the listener with such bright arrows?
Or do they play in wheeling silences
Defining in the perfect sky
The bounds of (here below) our solitude,

Where spring has generated lights of green
To glow in clouds upon the sombre branches?
Ponds full of sky and stillnesses
What heavy summer songs still sleep
Under the tawny rushes at your brim

More than a season will be born here, nature,
In your world of gravid mirrors!
The quiet air awaits one note,
One light, one ray and it will be the angels’ spring:
One flash, one glance upon the shiny pond, and then
Asperges me! sweet wilderness, and lo! we are redeemed!

For, like a grain of fire
Smouldering in the heart of every living essence
God plants His undivided power —
Buries His thought too vast for worlds
In seed and root and blade and flower,

Until, in the amazing light of April,
Surcharging the religious silence of the spring,
Creation finds the pressure of His everlasting secret
Too terrible to bear.

Then every way we look, lo! rocks and trees
Pastures and hills and streams and birds and firmament
And our own souls within us flash, and shower us with light,
While the wild countryside, unknown, unvisited of men,
Bears sheaves of clean, transforming fire.

And then, oh then the written image, schooled in sacrifice,
The deep united threeness printed in our being,
Shot by the brilliant syllable of such an intuition, turns within,
And plants that light far down into the heart of darkness and oblivion,
Dives after, and discovers flame.

THE CATHOLIC ART OF PAUL GAUGUIN

As is well known, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh lived together for a disastrous three months. Among the many disagreements they had was the question of depicting iconographic images. For Van Gogh, a Protestant, that was anathema. For Gauguin, who was Jesuit educated, it was essential. Although he was fleeting in his practice of Catholicism (he embraced Buddhism and Theosophy as well), the iconography Gauguin had been exposed to was in his DNA. As many will sophistically point out, Gauguin was hardly a model of morality, but much of the negativity about him is exaggerated and/or downright myth (i.e. he left his job, wife and children to go paint. Actually, the stock market crashed and he lost his job, after which his wife, being used to a more substantial income, kicked him out). Still, ultimately, Gauguin was an aesthetic Catholic and, for a painter that is perfect. There have been several superb books and articles on the religious art of Gauguin, who, for me, with El Greco, is the most essential of Catholic painters.

Christmas Night 1902

Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ 1891

Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ 1891

Adam and Eve, Expulsion from Paradise 1889

Breton Calvary 1898

Breton Woman In Prayer 1894

Eve, Don’t Listen to the Liar 1889

Hail Mary 1891

Joan Of Arc 1889

Month of Maria 1899

Nativity 1896

Self Portrait with Halo 1889

Tahitian Eve 1892

Tahitian Eve 1892

Eve 1892

Eve- The Nightmare 1892

The Day of God 1895

The Day of the God, 1894

The Encounter 1892

The Green Christ 1889

The House of Hymns 1892

The Universe is Created, 1894

The Yellow Christ 1889

Vision After the Sermon 1888

Le Paradis Perdu 1890

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? 1897

The Nativity 1896

Tahitian Nativity 1896

We Hail Thee Mary 1891

THE CATHOLIC ART OF SALVADOR DALI

Madonna of Port Lligat (1950)

Although, I’m not a fan of the earlier work of Salvador Dali (having seen too many stickers of his art on the folders of angst-ridden teenage boys in the 70s- they all seemed to be fanatical lovers of the Doors and Lynard Skynard-I’m not sure the connection), I respond most to his work in film (‘Spellbound’ and ‘Porky Pig in Dodo land’) and his later Catholic work.

Virgin of Guadalupe 1959

At one time, a self-proclaimed atheist, Dali reconciled with his Catholic faith and became devout, espousing devotion to saints, daily prayer, sacrament of marriage, lifelong fidelity, Mariology, etc and saw these as being authentically revolutionary, especially in his later years when all of the above was anathema to the I, ME, MINE mindset (the horrors of WWII was also a factor in his conversion).

The Ecumenical Council 1960

Dali’s reconciliation with his faith caused a heated row with Andre Breton (who considered himself the spokesperson head of the surrealists and authored the Surrealist Manifesto). Breton insisted that a true surrealist HAD to be a practicing atheist and there was NO room for religion in the movement. Dali rightly saw Breton’s prerequisite as hypocritically transforming surrealism into a dogmatic religion. Famously, Dali left and eventually the movement collapsed while Dali persisted.

Christ of Saint John of the Cross 1951

For years, art historians and theologians criticized Dali’s later Catholic-themed work as kitsch. They were off. Dali had the pulse of that blue-collar Catholic surrealism. Now, his later work has been reassessed (imagine that). There’s a wonderful portrayal of him that captures his spirit in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.

Assumption 1952

Crocifissione (1954)

Madonna 1943

Day of the Virgin 1947

God sends Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, 1964

Madonna of Port Lligat 1972

Microphysical Madonna 1954

The Ascension of Christ, 1958

The Sacrament of the Last Supper 1955

The Temptation of Saint Anthony’ (1946)

Corpuscular Madonna 1952

Cosmic Madonna 1958

I knew him in the breaking of bread, 1964

Madonna 1952

Madonna 1960

St. Helena of Port Lligat 1956

St. Jerome 1960

The Madonna and the Mystical Rose Salvador 1963

The Sacred Heart of Jesus 1962

Pieta 1982

Pieta 1982

SEA OF ROSARIES: Annunciation

Annunciation (oil on canvas) © 2011 Alfred Eaker

Annunciation (Thomas Merton)

Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!

Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.
Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.
Air, earth, and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.
These blue thinas bud in Israel.

The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom’s house, and Ark, and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)

Fifteen years old –
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.

It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden’s wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.

Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession
Until her Jesus makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.

SEA OF ROSARIES: OUR LADY OF THE WOODS

OUR LADY OF THE WOODS ©1994 ALFRED EAKER

Winter’s Night (Thomas Merton)

When, in the dark, the frost cracks on the window
The children awaken, and whisper.
One says the moonlight grated like a skate
Across the freezing river.
Another hears the starlight breaking like a knifeblade
Upon the silent, steelbright pond.
They say the trees are stiller than the frozen water
From waiting for a shouting light, a heavenly message.

Yet it is far from Christmas, when a star
Sang in the pane, as brittle as their innocence!
For now the light of early Lent
Glitters upon the icy step –
“We have wept letters to our patron saints,
(The children say) yet slept before they ended.”

Oh, is there in this night no sound of strings, of singers!
None coming from the wedding, no, nor
Bridegroom’s messenger?
(The sleepy virgins stir, and trim their lamps.)

The moonlight rings upon the ice as sudden as a
footstep;
Starlight clinks upon the dooryard stone, too like a
latch,
And the children are again, awake,
And all call out in whispers to their guardian angels.

SEA OF ROSARIES: Our Lady of Sorrows

“Our Lady Of Sorrows,” ©2009 Alfred Eaker (Franciscan Hermitage, Indianapolis)

The Evening of the Visitation (Thomas Merton)

Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance,
While you, full moon, wise queen,
Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven,
And travel no less stately in the summer sky
Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.

The woods are silent with the sleep of doves,
The valleys with the sleep of streams,
And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest.
Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat
Preach and say prayers:
You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours,
Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn,
Seems to have seen, this day,
Into the secret of the Lord’s Nativity.

Now at the fall of night, you shocks,
Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings
The way you did this golden morning when you saw God’s
Mother passing,
While all our windows fill and sweeten
With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.

You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses
Your gentle benedictions.
Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy
influence,
Blesses our rooves and eaves,
Our shutters, lattices and sills,
Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms,
Smiling by night upon her sleeping children:
O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven!