26 November 2014

Testimony I & II

 Two I finished last night. . .

 Testimony I (16 x 20 canvas board)


Testimony II (16 x 20 canvas board)

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

25 November 2014

All My Abstracts! (UPDATED)



Light of the Nations SOLD

 Wondrous Deeds (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

   
 Awash (16 x 20 framed canvas) SOLD

 Brought to Life (16 x 20 canvas board)

 
Comtemplata (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

Dark Night of the Soul  (16 x 20 canvas board) ON HOLD

  Shrouded (16 x 20 framed canvas)

  Monet Goes to the Beach (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Temple -- Rought Draft (16 x 20 framed canvas)

 Worthy Are You (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 All in All (16 x 20 framed canvas)
SOLD

 Ancient Doors (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

 Inferno (16 x 20 framed canvas)
 SOLD

 Les Fleurs du Mal (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Rock Rolled Away (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD
 
 Stand Up and Go (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

 5000 (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD


 Four Living Creatures (18 x 24 canvas board)
SOLD

 Psalm 24 (18 x 24 canvas board)

 Perfecting Grace (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD


 Emmaus Road (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Psalm 23 (18 x 24 canvas board)
SOLD

 Leaving Eden Again (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Discipleship (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Pentecost (16 x 20 framed canvas)
SOLD

 Feast (16 x 20 framed canvas)

 My Hour (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Eccles 1 (16 x 20 canvas board) RECYCLED

 Votive II (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD
 Votive I (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

Pillar of Cloud (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Jericho (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Noah's Covenant (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

Temple Falls (16 x 20 canvas board)

Canvas board: medium weight cotton canvas glued on hard cardboard.

Framed canvas: medium weight cotton canvas stretched over a wooden frame.


Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

23 November 2014

Subjects of the King

Christ the King
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Kings judge. It's in their job description. They also tax and spend; wage war and make peace; they take counsel and give it. But more than anything else, a king's rule is defined by how well he passed judgment on his subjects. Is he fair-minded? Even-handed? Both just and merciful? When disputes arise among his nobles, does he think first of his people and their needs, or does he immediately think about how to take advantage of the chaos to increase his power? Kings embody the spirit of their land, the spirits of their people, and define for everyone under their rule what it means to be loyal and honest. Some rule wisely, with justice for their people. Others abuse their authority for personal gain and glory. When the king goes bad, so does his kingdom. If the source of authority and civil power is corrupted, then the whole kingdom is soon corrupted as well. Who can trust the judgment of a corrupt king? His eyes are focused on taking the prize for himself not for others, not for us. So, on this Solemnity of Christ the King, we are reminded that though we are citizens of this world, we are first subjects of His Majesty in heaven.
 
Paul writes to the Corinthians on the coming of the kingdom of God, “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life. . .” Christ is first. Then those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end when Christ hands the kingdom over to his Father. When does this happen? Paul answers, “. . .when [Christ] has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.” Why destroy these authorities and powers? “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” And that's why we honor and celebrate Christ as not only our Savior but as our King as well: he is the destroyer of death, the last tyrant to hold us in thrall. Death's destruction is not yet finished, not yet final on this earth. So, we live still under the rule of living and dying as flesh and bones creatures who hope in the resurrection. But in celebrating Christ as our King now, we anticipate death's end, we work toward and look forward to that time when Christ comes to establish a new heaven and a new earth. While still here – in the world – we subjects of His Divine Majesty live and breath the hope and loyalty that Christ inspires. His sacrificial love for us, his sacrifice for us is his judgment of us, and we are sworn to bring his judgment to this world.

Kings judge. It's in their job description. And as King of the Universe, Christ is our just judge. He says to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory. . .he will sit upon his glorious throne. . .and he will separate them one [Gentile nation] from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The sheep he will invite into their eternal inheritance, the kingdom of God. To the goats he will say, “'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” What distinguishes the sheep-nations from the goat-nations? Good intentions? Social entitlement spending? Religious freedom? Number of churches in the phone book? No, no, no, and no. Christ says to the condemned nations: “. . .what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” What distinguishes those nations bound for heaven and those nations condemned to hell is the difference btw how each nation treated the gospel messengers sent to them – the hungry, the imprisoned, the stranger, all those who went out with the Good News are among the least of Christ's brothers. Where we end up as a nation, a people is determined by how we choose to receive the Good News of the Father's mercy to sinners.

It might seem a bit strange that Christ, King of the Universe would take such a personal, one-on-one interest in the treatment of his messengers by the nations. But look again at the Lord's words to Ezekiel. Over and over again in that prophecy, the Lord uses a phrase that rings out: “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. . .I will rescue them. . .I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest. . .The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. . .I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.” In the promises made to Ezekiel, the Lord does not delegate the work of kingship to another. He doesn't pawn the tough stuff off on a vicar or a steward. He Himself promises to heal, tend, shepherd, and judge. Our Savior, the one who died for us, is our King, our Judge and jury. Christ will – at his coming again in glory – look upon us and delve into our hearts and minds and weigh how we have received his Good News; how we treated the ones he sent out to bring us his gospel news. Individuals, groups, nations, whole continents will be held accountable to him for how his tender offer of mercy is received.
 
And b/c we are first subjects of His Divine Majesty, our wills are bent to his, and we are sworn to bring his justice to this world while we are still here. Christ's justice is the swift, terrible sword of mercy. He died so that our sins – past, present, and future – are forgiven. Justice was done – once for all – on the Cross, and now, we are bound by the blood of the Cross to be merciful ourselves, to show mercy one to another, and all of us as a Church to any and all who ask. Mercy is not a weakness nor is it a sign of approval or indifference to sin. Mercy comes after the conviction, after the plea of guilty. Mercy granted before confession or conviction is no mercy at all; it's a pitiful admission of spiritual laziness on our part, a sign of our own self-satisfaction. A sinner seeking mercy is like a starving man needing good food. Do you feed a starving man generic brand cat food? No. So, do not feed a mercy-seeking sinner cheap mercy. Our Just Judge will want to know upon his coming again in glory: did you feed, clothe, welcome the ones I sent you to receive my mercy? Did you house, bathe, visit the sinners I sent you for forgiveness and reconciliation? Or did you dismiss them in their misery b/c you no long care about the difference btw wickedness and righteousness?

If our Lord will personally see to our judgment in the Last Days, then we are well advised to see to his good work while we live. He sends among us the least of his brothers and sisters. Not to test us, but to give us every chance, every opportunity to be Christ-for-another. This is how we grow in holiness; it's how we come closer and closer to his perfection. As citizens of this world, we are rewarded for frugality, security, and wealth. As subjects of Christ the King, we are made perfect in love, one sacrifice at a time.
_________________________
 
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

First World Problem: my shopping entropy field

Anyone who's ever been shopping with me knows that I project an entropy field -- an area of energy that draws wacky customers, wackier cashiers, and causes machinery to break.

Yesterday, I went to WalMart to pick up a few things. I noticed that the register in the electronics department had one customer who was in the process of paying. . .so, I got behind her, thinking that I'd avoid the long lines at the front of the store. Little did I know that Ms Early Christmas Shopper was going to pay for her haul with cash, four gift cards, and a credit card. 

She received her receipt, checked it thoroughly, and then announced that she needed to pay for an item in lay-a-away. She spent a good five minutes digging around in her enormous purse looking for the paperwork. She paid -- again with an assortment of cards, cash, and coupons. 

FINALLY! She's done. No. The cashier stepped away from the register, looked at me sympathetically, and said, "I have to go in the back to get her lay-a-away. Be back in a sec." I nodded and walked to the front.

At the front, I got in the 20 Items or Less [sic] line behind a couple who were in the process of paying. They had eight items. And used six debit cards to pay! Each card was rejected a couple of times b/c the woman kept putting in the wrong PIN code for the card. Then the machine rebelled and wouldn't work. The cashier got it running again. . .and they had to start over. 

When this circus finally concluded, I dropped my items on the scanner. Just then, a manager walks up and begin changing out the cash drawer while chatting casually with the cashier. They hooted and giggled and talked about their upcoming lunch break, etc. The drawer swapped out, the cashier decides that she needs some change, so we have to wait for the manager to go get another drawer to make change.

By this time, I'd been waiting to check out twice as long as it took me to find my items.

Nine out of ten times, this is how my shopping experiences go. Penance for a multitude of sins, no doubt. 
________________________

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

16 November 2014

No harvest, no feast

33rd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Never having been pregnant myself, it’s difficult for me to imagine how a pregnant woman might be surprised by her labor pains. Surely after nine months of bloating, vomiting, hormonal surges, that maternal glow, and the all-too-popular weight gain, she is more or less ready for the inevitable cramping and inevitable pangs of birth. Oh sure, the exact moment—day, hour, minute—might be a surprise. Who would put real money on that bet?! But that she will experience the pain of pushing out a wet, screaming human watermelon really can’t come as much of a last minute shocker. All the more unusual then is Paul’s metaphor for the surprise that Christians will experience when the Lord returns. He writes to the Thessalonians: “For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, ‘Peace and security,’ then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape…” So, in what way will our surprise at the return of the Lord be like the suddenness of “labor pains upon a pregnant woman”? Though the pain of childbirth is dreaded, the reward of a child is anticipated with great joy. Our surprise at the return of the Lord will be both dread and joy, trepidation and elation: the long anticipated relief of our tensed waiting.

Paul tells us that our Lord will return like a thief in the night. He also tells us that our surprise will come like labor pains—hard, clenching, sweaty, but not entirely unexpected. It makes sense to say then that though the thief comes in the night, we have been expecting his arrival for some time, waiting for him to pop the lock on the backdoor, to lift the latch of the window and sneak in. We don’t know the day, the hour, the minute of his break-in, but we know that he will arrive, and we know that what he has come to steal has been his all along. At baptism we make ourselves the Lord’s debtors, owing all we are and all we have to him, everything held in trust until he returns to claim the principal with accrued interest. What have you done with the Lord’s largess? With all the Lord has given you? What have you done with the person the Lord made you to be?

Jesus, ever the lover of a good parable, says to his disciples: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” The man gives talents to his servants according to their ability. Makes sense. Except that we have to ask: according to their ability to do what? This is the crux of the parable. Knowing his servants well, the man does not distribute his possessions uniformly, giving each servant the same number of talents. Rather, precisely because he knows the varying abilities of his servants, he distributes them equally; that is, he gives each the number of talents equal to the ability of each servant. The man is not foolish. He is not going to give those with little ability the chance to squander his talents on a grand scale. However, by giving them talents equal to their abilities, he is giving them the opportunity to show that they are worthy of more—an opportunity that they would not otherwise have.

Now, here’s the interesting part of the parable: by giving the servants talents equal to their abilities, the man is actually adding to their abilities. Presumably, without the responsibility of keeping the talents none of the servants would have the chance to move much beyond their given abilities. So, on top of their natural talents, the man adds some investment capital. He “invests” in each servant an excess of talents to supplement what they have received naturally. In theological terms, we can say that the man has used his grace to build on their natures, gifting them the chance and the tools necessary to grow well beyond their natural capacities.

What happens? The man returns and the servants line up for inspection. Who has taken advantage of their gift of talents? Jesus continues the parable: “The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.’” This servant, having received talents equal to his abilities, took his master’s principal investment and used it to double his worth. Any of the servants could have done the same. Not all of them did. Why not? Out of fear that his master would simply take any interest he might accrue on the investment, one servant simply buried his talent. Out of fear that his work to improve his master’s gift would benefit his master alone, this servant refused to make good on his chance. He planted a dead seed, and not surprisingly, nothing grew. No growth, no harvest. No harvest, no feast. The fearful servant loses his talent to the more gifted servant and the master calls him wicked and lazy!

When our master returns – in the night like a thief long expected – will you present him with his principal investment alone, or will you return to him his initial gift plus interest? According to your ability you have been gifted with exactly those talents that you need to grow in holiness. You have been given everything you need to invest wisely and move beyond your natural abilities. But what is most important to remember is this: every step beyond your abilities, every level of increasing perfection that you reach is the result of our Lord’s initial investment in you—his gift of talents that equals your abilities. Upon his return he expects to receive a return on his investment. What will you present to him? Who will you present to him? Will you, like the “good and faithful servant,” show him double the talent? Or will you have to go dig up his gift and return it unused? How will you excuse yourself? To say that you had no idea when the master would return is true on its face. You cannot, however, claim that you did not know that he was returning. Like the pregnant woman who knows the pain of childbirth is coming though not precisely when, you know the time of judgment is before us. Called to account for yourself, what will you say, “Sorry. But I knew you were just going to take it all back, so I did nothing”? Wicked and lazy, indeed!

Paul writes, “…brothers and sisters, [you] are not in darkness, for that day [of the Lord’s return] to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.” Because we see clearly in the light of the Lord, we must take the gifts we are given, invest to the limits of our abilities, tend the growing fruits, and harvest the abundant graces that mature. Though we do not know the day and time of the Lord’s return, as his good and faithful servants, we must be ready always to account not only for our abilities but for wisely investing his gifts as well. The pain of childbirth is nothing compared to the pain of failing in this sacred duty.
________________________
 
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

15 November 2014

Five Abstracts: VIII

With the exception of Contemplata, these are all geometric color studies. . .meaning that I do not consider them complete and will likely recycle them. 

 Awash (18 x 24 framed canvas)

 Contemplata (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Discipleship (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Emmaus Road (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Feast (18 x 24 framed canvas)

The time-stamp is sideways b/c I discovered that my Crappy Little Camera takes a better picture that way. 
___________________________________

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

11 November 2014

2 More Paintings. . .

 Bethany (16 x 20 framed canvas) RECYCLED


 Stand Up and Go (18 x 24 canvas board)


Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

10 November 2014

Three Abstracts: VII

Three recently completed canvases. . .these are not finished, strictly speaking. But close enough.

 5000 (16 x 20 framed canvas)

 Psalm 24 (18 x 24 canvas board)

 Resurrection (18 x 24 framed canvas) RECYCLED

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

09 November 2014

We Are Not Meat for the Market

St. John Lateran Basilica (32nd Sunday)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Lay Carmelites/OLR, NOLA
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He goes to the temple and finds a thriving flea market – a bazaar for selling sacrificial animals, and bankers exchanging common money for temple cash. In a rage, he pulls out his whip, and yells, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” John notes that the disciples immediately recall Psalm 69.9: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” And the Jews, they ask for a sign. Jesus tells them to destroy “this temple,” and he will raise it again in three days. Many years later, Paul, while questioning the ignorance of the Corinthian church, teaches us that we are the temples of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within us. He says, “Brothers and sisters, you are God’s building…If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” How do we, the holy temples of God, turn our temples into marketplaces, into buildings that serve commerce rather than God? And, how do we drive out the unclean merchants and restore our temples to their proper purpose? 
 
In an angelic vision, Ezekiel is shown that the temple is the center of life-giving water and fruit, the heart of the nation to which and from which the waters of the world flow, “Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,” and there will be God’s abundance. For our ancestors in faith, the temple was more than a church, more than a place to gather. The temple was the dwelling place of the Most Holy, the physical site of Heaven touching Earth. No wonder then Ezekiel is shown the temple as a source of life and abundance! And no wonder Jesus is furious with the mercantile desecration of its holy purpose. 
 
It is not great leap to the 21st century and our own contemporary desecrations of God’s holy temples: how do we profane the dignity of the human person in name of profit and entertainment? How do we collaborate with those who would set up shop in our temples? Think about the ways our culture commercializes the body. Think about our ever-failing social norms for sex, eating, drinking, dressing. Think about how we are manipulated into lending our temples to these marketplaces, selling our finest bodies to the lowest bidder at the auction of fashion and fame. Think about how artificial contraception has become “family planning;” how abortion has become “an alternative to pregnancy;” how an unborn human person has become a “product of conception;” and same-sex marriage has become all about “marriage equality.” Every merchant knows that manipulative marketing is all about perception, illusion, finding just the right way to spin reality to make a buck or win a political argument. Our temples are sold as inconvenient waste, the stuff we throw out.  
 
For cash and the bottom-line, we are meat. For the culture of death—ruled by Mammon—we are cattle and lab rats, control groups and experiments. Those temples among us who are blind, lame, crippled, poor, elderly, or unborn they are all just “targets for development goals” or “the means of measurable outcomes given variables.” What we cannot be and still be temples of the Most High is a means to anything else but ourselves. Make me a means and I quickly become an obstacle needing to be removed. Make you a means to an end and you become a tool for manipulation. Turn the human person into a product, a site of commercialization, and the body becomes a snack, a tiny morsel to be gobbled up in an frenzy of self-destruction and denigration.

Hear Paul again: “Do you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person…” Why? “…for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” You are, we are temples, where Heaven touches Earth, sites of God’s abundance, moments of God’s gracious outpouring of spirit and life; we are both the source and goal of all that water, flowing in and out to feed life inside and outside our walls. Let nothing defile the holiest of God’s dwelling places: you, consumed by zeal for the presence of the Lord!

___________________________
 
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

08 November 2014

Details from Six Abstract: VI

Details from the paintings posted earlier. "Inferno" is hanging in my office at NDS, so I couldn't get a detail of it.


Sarcifice (detail)


Darker Night of the Soul (detail)


Noah's Covenant (detail)

Temple Door (detail) 

Purgatorio (detail)



Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->