FR. JUSTIN BELITZ TESTIMONIALS

Several articles from personal blogs have appeared online regarding Fr. Justin Belitz, O.F.M. These articles ultimately represent social media being used and abused as yet another demonstration of someone judging from the outside looking in, seeing only slivers, hearing only soundbytes, coming to blatantly erroneous conclusions, and portraying Fr. Belitz as a caricature. It is nothing less than crass stereotyping and echoes the words to the old song: “I don’t like what I don’t understand and it scares me half to death.”

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I am an Indianapolis native and former member of Friar Justin’s Hermitage (Former only because I moved out of state).  I met Fr. Justin through  the late Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer, a Benedictine priest, who happened to be the former director of St. Meinrad’s. I met Fr. Hilary at an art gallery showing  (the 431 galley) in the late 1980s.  At that time, I was a self-proclaimed atheist.

Having grown up in an abusive, evangelical church setting, I had mantled a lot of anger. Hilary and I became good friends, having countless discussions on art history, film, philosophy, and music. He even counseled me through a divorce. Slowly and astutely,  I became aware that there was indeed an artistic, intellectual side to the religious life; one that did not require me to dumb down.

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Alfred Eaker Paintings

Alfred EAKER 'Our Lady Of The Mermaids%22 oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker “Our Lady Of The Mermaids”©2011 is a 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. Over the years, I have painted numerous Madonnas, born full grown from a painter’s brow, yet I feel it is this one alone, from 2011, in which my very personal tradition and theological tenets crystallized most lucidly. I have attempted, since then, to paint her again as I did here. Predictably, it has proven futile. Although, Our Lady wears a thousand different skin tones, a thousand names, and a thousand costumes, she stands uniquely untamed in this canvas. This is no Madonna, subjected to patriarchal erasure, no demure, chaste cabbage. Our Lady is imbued with wild sensuality, diaphanous compassion, and revolutionary divinity. She is our lush, boundlessly expansive sanctuary of fearless truth-telling; the fiery daughter of primal white goddesses and Sophianic Mother of the brown mermaids.

* Our Lady was chosen for the 2014 cover of Aurora Literary Magazine.

 

Alfred Eaker %22Annhilation%22 (Sufism. Meditation on Christ casting the money changers out of the temple) oil on canvas. ©2014 Alfred Eaker “Annihilation” is a 2014,  40 x 48 oil on canvas. It stems from Sufi meditation. “Christ casting the money changers out of the temple” is that figure’s moth to the flame moment. It is the only time we see the gospel figure losing his temper and it is this act, which gets him killed and inevitably transforms him. It is lack of love that Christ is responding to. Rather than the traditional depicted action narrative, usually attached to the subject, “Annihilation” is filtered through Le Pointe Vierge; the innermost secret heart.

ALFRED EAKER Prelude To A Day Of Wonder. Oil on canvas. © 2010 Alfred Eaker.

“Prelude To A Day Of Wonder” is a 2010, 36 x 48 oil on canvas. That it is a prelude is key. Pure,  emotional reaching… upward. A day of wonder is a day of attainment.ALFRED EAKER %22Annunication%22 oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

“Annunciation” is a 2011, 3 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas, painted while I was in grad school seminary. It is the prologue to the Magnificat. The Marian figure is young, ethnic, sensually caught up in her mystical hour, manifested through the celestial visitor.   Alfred Eaker PIETA (2011) oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

“Pieta” is one of numerous oil on canvases (3 ft x 5 ft) I have painted on the traditional subject. This interpretation is from 2011, and directly followed the above “Annunciation.” The same figure is aged approximately thirty years. Again, she is endowed in her Hour. Her Son, reduced to Corpus Christie, is being lifted to Her by John the beloved and Joseph of Arimathea.The author of the Beatitudes is clearly the son of the Magnificat’s author. In the gospel narrative, Christ cried out to His Father: “Why have you forsaken me?”  Father turned His face from Son. Yet, Mother faced Her son directly. As painful as it was, She did not look away. She did not forsake Him and wears a shirt of arrows for Him. Alfred Eaker %22Stations IV%22 Christ Meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross. oil on canvas 5 ft x 5 ft. ©2011 Alfred Eaker “Stations IV. Christ meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross” is a 2011 oil on canvas and on of six Station paintings. All are 5 ft x 5 ft. Again, I dispense of a narrative per se and channel the event through a purely emotional, almost musically mystical filter. This is a homage to the teachings of Fr. Justin Belitz. Alfred Eaker Barenboim conducts the Bruckner 7th . oil on canvas ©2014 Alfred Eaker “Barenboim conducts the Bruckner 7th” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is a reinterpretation from a sketch I made during a Chicago concert of that symphony, conducted by Daniel Barenboim in the 1990s. The 7th is the most personally mystical of Bruckner’s symphonic output. Barenboim is a pronounced romanticist and a visceral Brucknerian, shaping the composer’s intimate sanctuary. Alfred Eaker %22Pieta%22 oil on canvas © 2014 Alfred Eaker “Pieta” is a 58 x 48 oil on canvas from 2014. Revisiting the subject, I concentrated on the relationship between the Madonna and Her slain Son in a celestial, communal setting. Alfred Eaker Yellow Resurrection. oil on canvas. © 2008 Alfred Eaker

“Yellow Resurrection” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2008 and an entirely different variation of previous Pieta-like themes. My BlueMahler character serves as a narrator, composing an exotic interpretation of the Easter theme. Alfred Eaker %22Christ and the Woman at the well.%22 oil on canvas. © 2014 Alfred Eaker   “Christ and the Woman at the Well” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is painted in monochromatic hues. No water well is depicted. I forgo a narrative in favor of an emotional interaction. Although Christ is recognized as prophet, He learns from her. She teaches him her humanity and it is a vulnerable sharing. Alfred Eaker Escape to a Mysterious Freedom. oil on canvas. © 2007 alfred eaker

“Escape To A Mysterious Freedom” is one of several paintings inspired by my time in New Mexico. It is a 2007 oil on canvas and depicts a lone, female rider. It is a surreal variation of Gauguin’s Riders On The Beach. The woman is on a tension-filled promenade and the freedom which awaits her is an unknown one. I had read St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night Of The Soul’ shortly before painting this and that certainly factored in. Alfred Eaker Prayer for a perilous descent. oil on canvas © 2007 alfred eaker

“Prayer For A Perilous Descent” is a 45 x 60, 2007 oil on canvas and companion piece to the previous painting. A family is depicted: A mother and father, shielding their children, through a perilous descent while Holy Mother prays for their safety. Alfred EAKER Blue Fugue oil on canvas © 2007 alfred eaker

“Blue Fugue” is another 2007 companion to “Escape To A Mysterious Freedom”  and is 3 ft x 4 ft. St. John Of the Cross and Gauguin inform the painting’s theme and milieu. A lone, male figure rides into a terrain of infinite shadows. DIGITAL CAMERA

“Passion of Perpetua and Felicity” is a  30 x 40, 2008 oil on canvas, taken from a gnostic text of martyrdom. It is a literal, narrative interpretation, but one saturated with paradoxical emotions, including divine eroticism. Alfred Eaker Married in the Faucet. oil on canvas. © 2007 alfred eaker

“Married In the Faucet” is a 3 ft x 4 ft 2007 canvas, named after a line from a poem by John M. Bennett (who acted in two of my films. He was Satan in “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” and George H. Bush in “W.”) The BlueMahler character is depicted in an unconsummated marriage. DIGITAL CAMERA “Finger Paint Viscosity” is a 3 ft x 4 ft, 2007 oil on canvas, named after  Cheryl Townsend poem (Cheryl played Jesus in my “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” film). BlueMahler conducts the non-narrative narrative (as he did in the film). Cheryl herself is depicted. Her form echoes the eroticism inherent in her words. There is an Alexander Scriabin-like insect quality to her sexed-up figure. * All paintings are for sale. For pricing, serious inquiries may contact us at: pinkfreudbluemahler@msn.com

2. Alfred Eaker Hay que caminar„ soñando ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Hay que caminar, soñando “is a 40 x 60, 2013 oil on canvas, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono, translated (roughly) as “Wanderer, there is no destination, but you must travel the road.”

1. Alfred Eaker Risonanze erranti (Resonances wandering) ©Alfred Eaker 2013

 

“Risonanze errant” (Resonances wandering) is a  x 33 x 52, oil on canvas from 2013, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono.

5. Alfred Eaker Omaggio a Luigi Nono. ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Omaggio a Luigi Nono” is a 3 ft x 3 ft oil on canvas, and homage to Luigi Nono.

4. Alfred Eaker Io, Frammento da Prometeo ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Io, Frammento da Prometeo” is a 48 x 48, 2013 oil on canvas, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono.

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“Shifting Sanctuaries” is a 2009, 30 x 48 oil on canvas of the BlueMahler character.

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“Fragments From a Crepuscular World” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2009.

ALFRED EAKER Self Portrait of the artist as a middle aged man c.2009 alfred eaker

“Self Portrait of the artist as a middle aged man” is a 3ft x 4 ft oil on canvas, from 2009.

 

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“Without World” is a 4ft x 4 ft oil on canvas from 2009.

** A portion of all sales will go to the Franciscan Hermitage.

Fr. Justin Belitz O.F.M. Success:Full Relating (Spirituality for the 21st Century and Beyond) Australia Retreat

Fr. Justin Belitz O.F.M.. The above are images from his retreat at the Infant Jesus Parish in Morley Western Australia, April 2010. In March, 2011 Fr. Justin returned to the parish for a follow up retreat.

Fr. Justin’s retreat centers around the teaching of his latest book, Success:Full  Relating. This is Fr. Justin’s third book in the success series. It is a guide to successful life goals and relationships. Success:Full Relating is also the most theological of his books, outlining the matriarchal/creation model of spirituality and the patriarchal/ fall/redemption model. Fr. Justin’s approach is lucid, optimistic, and inspiring.

Fr. Justin will be celebrating his 50th jubilee as a Franciscan priest this summer.   He promotes interfaith expression, practical theology and renewal in the model of Augustine of the Retractions, John XXIII, The Little Flower, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fr. Justin is a licensed teacher of the Silva Method but here he gives us the Justin Method. Justin’s method incorporates Franciscan spirituality, the Silva Method and a lifetime of experience into a celebration of life, love, art, and spirit.

OUR LADY: CATHOLICISM’S DIAPHANOUS ADAGIO

Alfred EAKER 'Our Lady Of The Mermaids%22 oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker“Our Lady of the Mermaids.” © 2011 Alfred Eaker

When it comes to Mariology, even self-proclaimed liberal, protestant denominations passionately raise objections towards the Catholic tradition of elevating Mary to the level of near goddess, arguing that she is an impossible role model for women (being both virgin and mother) and, understandably, resisting the ultra right’s tendency to use her image as a suppressive, brow-beating weapon.

Certainly, Marian symbology has often been used as a correctional tool, something akin to a “What Would Mary Do?” motivational. Mary, in her ever-virginal state, has often been reduced to bumper sticker theology, in an effort to combat the onslaught of puberty. Needless to say, Mary, as a potential, imaged disciplinarian, set before young Catholic school girls and boys, or seminarians, has, more often than not,  been a predictably ineffectual inspiration.

However, Christ has certainly been used this way as well, of course; even more so. Indeed, Jesus of Nazareth may well be the Yukon Cornelius of deities since depictions and interpretations of him are as varied as the sands, and he never seems to quite fit in any one depiction, rendering him a misfit among misfits.

In regards to an imaged Christ, there is, at least, literary diversity within the New Testament that can be referenced, regardless of static images often applied to the Nazarene. The Christ of Mark’s Gospel projects qualities of aloofness and moodiness. He is enigmatic, earthy, and masculine. In contrast to that, Christ, as portrayed in the Gospel of John, is mystical, ethereal, sensitive, and effeminate. These varied, interpretive portraits of Christ beautifully flesh out the contradictory nature of his narrative, which we can readily identify with. The richness of disparity in the New Testament profiling of Christ has given rise to wildly contrasting Christs ever since.

Michelangelo’s Christ of the “Last Judgment” resembles a Prometheus unbound, the kind of Jesus one might picture in Mark’s action-packed gospel. This is the Jesus who, after having resisted Satanic temptation in the cave, descends into town, chest protruding,  to further wallop the demon-possessed .  Yet, near the end of his life, this same artist, depicted a much different savior, in stone. In his last, unfinished “Pieta” Michelangelo’s Christ, in death, is withered, vulnerable and his mother’s cradled son.

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“Annunciation” ©2011 Alfred Eaker. oil on canvas.

Within scriptural text, the enigma of Mary is cloaked in pronounced minimalism, even if she has been referred to as “The First Evangelist” (when she visits Elizabeth) and “The First Church” (with the shepherds and Joseph on Christmas morn in the manger). The young Mary does have a girlish quality, but, as she grows older, in the dramatic narrative of the gospels, the characterization of Mary dissipates as the character of Christ expands.

From the point of Christ’ adulthood on, the events involving Mary do not reveal her emotional makeup or reactions. Tradition attaches slithers of emotion to her, but these are apt, artistically interpreted attributes.

Catholic apologetics liken the miracle of Cana to the Garden of Gethsemane. In the garden, Christ asks his Father to remove the bitter chalice that he must soon drink of, but he yields to his Father’s will. At Cana, Christ resists Mary’s prompting to transform the water into wine, telling her “It is not my time.” Christ is reluctant to begin his ministry, but yield’s to his mother’s will. This is a smart literary development, employing an example of Christ’s obedience to the forth commandment.  However, Mary is merely a mother here, and no insight is given to her temperament.

The same is true of her appearance at the cross of her son and at Pentecost. Mary’s last appearance is a metaphorical one, in the Apocalypse. Two vivid images are given. First she appears in the desert(Egypt), after having given a painful birth, fleeing the dragon/serpent. Here, she is depicted as the New Eve, at enmity with the serpent. The serpent is symbolic of the king, seeking her son’s death. She flees to protect her child/the Church. This dream-like vignette is word painted in  expressionist, monochromatic  colors. The second image of her, as a Lady, clothed in the Sun, is strikingly colored.

Alfred Eaker PIETA (2011) oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

“Pieta.” ©2011 Alfred Eaker

With the figure of Christ being illustrated in four canonical gospels, we are given multi-faceted perspectives for contemplation. From the Jewish rabbi, to the dusty human and the mystical god. With Mary, the gospels and the Apocalypse composite a consistent archetype of a young girl who becomes an increasingly otherworldly woman. The human quality, found in her as a lowly peasant, humble, expectant, teen mother, becomes subdued as the the adult image of her becomes increasingly preoccupied with a celestial state, that was pronounced even in the youthful figure of her as servant,  hence the surrealist attraction to Our Lady.

Imagery of Christ as a warrior/judge figure can at least be attained from some of the wording of the Apocalypse, even if that depiction fatuously ignores the Christ of the Beatitudes and so on. More nonsensical is the Marian image used as a means of disciplinary chastisement.  There are no literary or early traditions for the use of that image in that manner. Still, the representational imagery of a benevolent mother far outnumbers opposing depictions. The various, imaged incarnations of her; Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Sorrows (where one is invited to lay heavy burdens at her door),  Our Lady of Perpetual Help,  Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of the Snows, Our Lady of  the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of the Rosary, all depict a womb of empathy. She is far less often portrayed as the judgmental yardstick that we are hopelessly measured against.

No family is complete without a mother, unless it is a dysfunctional family, of course. Objections to Mariology often are coached in terms of historicity, even from agnostic theologians, more likely betraying a misogynist resistance to the feminine as near divine.

More progressive mainline protestant denominations, while embracing a female clergy, cannot go so far as to embrace feminine symbology within the divine family. PC friendly denominations may abstractly refer to God in the vernacular, but are still resistant to an actual, solidified feminine image.

A Post-Vatican II Catholicism, in a strained effort to be “protestant friendly,”has taken the easiest, superficial, surface reforms by downplaying Mary’s presence, along with caving into an iconoclastic, protestant spirit. Rosary services are set aside in most parishes, usually after scantly attended early morning weekday masses. Predictably, we have still failed to grasp the deeper, mystical reforms of John the XXIII. Even more predictably, when the mystical quality fails to be attained, that most pronounced of mystical figures, Our Lady, is the first to go.

In place of a sea of rosaries amidst a parish of divinely inspired art, the post-modern American Catholic Church, more often than not, projects the atmosphere of a dull, artless, masculine basketball court, rather than a temple. Naturally, rosaries and Mary have no place on the court.

 

When protestant churches jettisoned the sacramental, mysterious qualities of Catholicism, they universally rejected the Marian symbology, and proved themselves even more unimaginatively patriarchal than the original role model. Much in protestantism densely attaches itself to an alarmingly limited perception of hyper realism, in which the Marian image becomes the equivalent of a round peg in a square hole. Of all the protestant tenants to avoid, this should have been the Church’s last route. Instead, the Church has emulated the worst in its competition.

Of course, sophomoric attempts to appease protestantism hardly stops two millennium of Marian devotion among the laity, particularly European, Scandinavian, and Hispanic laity. Marian apparitions and pilgrimages to attributed sights of these apparitions are still vigorous forces of mystical inspiration to be reckoned with.  The Church, understandably- from its public point of view, looks at each sighting with skepticism. That is the face the Church is forced to put on for the world. The authenticity of each sighting is reviewed, but the authenticity lies in that translucent wave of inspiration. Marian devotion has never been preoccupied with historicity or vacuous realism.

Christ himself rarely acquires that level of frenzied sightings. That possibly is because the Marian image, while certainly ethereal in the end state of being, traverses that bridge between the human condition and the goal of inclusion in the divine family.

Being a woman in first century, patriarchal-ruled Judea, Mary is a symbolic outcast, a secondary citizen. It is written that a sword pierced her girl’s heart, the traditional “Mary’s Way of the Cross” depicts a mother closely following in the bloodied footsteps of her dying son, and the various Pietas capture the mystical and emotional anguish of a parent losing her child.

In his writings of “Total Concentration to Mary”, that Franciscan martyr Maximilan Kolbe wrote,  ” Anyone incapable of bending his knee and of imploring from Her in humble prayer the grace to know who She really is, cannot hope to learn anything more about Her.

From the divine Maternity flow all the graces granted to the All Holy Virgin Mary, and the first of these graces is the Immaculate Conception. This privilege must be particularly dear to Her heart, if at Lourdes She herself wished to define Herself thus: I am the Immaculate Conception. With this name, so pleasing to Her heart, we also wish to call upon Her.

To draw close to Her, to make ourselves like Her, to allow Her to take possession of our heart and of all our being, that She might live and work in us and through us, that She Herself love God with our heart, that we belong to Her without any reserve: behold our ideal.

To shine in our environment, to conquer souls for Her, in such wise that in Her presence the hearts of our neighbors also open, so that She might extend Her reign in the hearts of all who live in any corner of the earth, without regard to difference of race, of nationality, of language, and likewise in the hearts of all who will live in any moment of history, until the end of the world: behold, our ideal.

Further, that Her life be ever more deeply rooted in us, from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment, and this without any limitation: behold our ideal.

And still, that this Her life develop in the same way in every soul which exists or will exist in any time: behold our precious ideal.”

Despite some, admittedly, dated terminology (i.e; ‘conquering souls’) Kolbe’s ideal, inspired by his devotion, was put into action when he voluntarily laid down his life for a stranger in the Auschwitz concentration camp in August, 1941. “Greater love hath no man than this.”

Instead of eradicating her image and spiritual presence from our Churches, or applying a reductionist approach to her, the Marian image and presence can be embraced for what it is; the faith’s sublime, mysterious Tahitian pearl, a diaphanous adagio for our contemplation and inspiration, a startlingly sensuous rose which can, quite astonishingly, burst through the practicality of our senses. The Church and the faith are desperate for a veracious, mystical revival and movement. This will not be found in the hollow, pedestrian, futile,  and predictable attempts that have been made time and again. No, the first steps of this can be attained by an image we have always had before us. As usual, she is forced to wait on our “coming round” to her embrace.

Alfred Eaker %22Stations IV%22 Christ Meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross. oil on canvas 5 ft x 5 ft. ©2011 Alfred Eaker

“Christ Meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross.” © 2012 Alfred Eaker