Articles Under: Catechizing with Art

The sacristy of the Cathedral in Toledo, Spain, houses a painting made in the late sixteenth century by Domenikos Theotocopoulos, better known by his nickname , El Greco. In the center of the picture, we behold Christ wearing a brilliant red tunic. All the other figures—clad in gray, green, yellow, or blue—fall into subordinate places around Christ, as cool bodies gathered around a flame. A man in green takes hold of the red garment at its neckline to begin the divestment, the “ expolio .” The brutal removal of the vesture, and its imminent sundering by the executioners, vividly reminds... Read more
To view or to zoom in on this art on a smart board click here. One of the most famous Catholic paintings of history is the humble work of art titled The Angelus by Jean-Francois Millet. This painting might be considered unique in that it has been viewed as inspired fine art by some and purely sentimental illustration by others. What is in this image that stirs the aesthetic imagination for some and is dismissed by others as a simplistic work of religious nostalgia? Importantly, how does it incarnate the subject of prayer? Jean-Francois Millet was born in Grechy, France... Read more
In 2020, the Shepherds of the Church gave us a treasure in the new Directory for Catechesis . Dr. Farey was a member of the working party for the bishops on the new Directory and shares additional reflections on its practical implications in this conclusion of the three-part series. There are many small ways by which beauty can be brought into one’s catechesis easily and simply, even if finding beautiful images or music are not one’s forte. The new Directory for Catechesis urges us “that every form of catechesis . . . attend to the ‘way of beauty.’” [i] Beauty... Read more
To view the art on a smart board, click here. O Come, Let Us Adore Christ Our Lord! “ Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator,” notes the Catechism (2628). In adoration we exalt the greatness of God and express gratitude to Jesus Christ for reconciling us to God in the mystery of his Paschal death and Resurrection. Saint Luke’s Gospel tells us that the good news of God’s reconciling the world through his Son came first to simple shepherds in the midst of their ordinary work. As they kept watch... Read more
When John Everett Millais’ Christ in the House of His Parents was first displayed at the Royal Academy, the public response was near-universal revulsion. At that time it bore no title but Zechariah 13:6: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then shall he answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” The intense and earthy detail of Millais’ depiction of the Holy Family scandalized press and public alike. One critic decried its “painful display of anatomical knowledge, and studious vulgarity of portraying the youthful Savior as a red-headed... Read more
To view this image on your laptop or on a smartboard click here and zoom in. Pentecost, by the artist El Greco (c. 1597), is one of the most extreme images of an event in Scripture. What was the convergence of history, culture, and personality that led to El Greco’s image of the descent of the Holy Spirit as described in the Acts of the Apostles? In the sixteenth century in Northern Europe, the Protestant movement attacked many longstanding Catholic traditions of art making. This movement led away from images that expressed supernatural and sacramental realities and toward more literal... Read more
Because of the pandemic, instead of working directly with children, many parish catechists are helping parents gain confidence in preparing their children for sacraments without traditional classes. I believe this new process can ennoble families to better assume their role in society. “Ennoble,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means to “make noble or elevate.” [1] Kings and queens elevate or “ennoble” a “commoner” to the status of “noble.” One cannot ennoble himself. He receives his nobility either through family inheritance, marriage, or as a gift bestowed by the proper authority. As Catholics, our ennoblement begins at Baptism when we become... Read more
To view the image on a smartboard click here . In this article, we reflect on the painting, Christ Appearing to His Mother , by Juan de Flandes, Netherlandish ca. 1496. There is a tradition from the thirteenth century of Jesus appearing to his mother after the Resurrection . [1] It is not mentioned in the New Testament, but as devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mother increased, her absence in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances raised the question. Is it likely that Jesus would have visited his mother, with whom he lived, as far as we can know,... Read more
To project the artwork onto a smartboard click here. Piero di Cosimo is one of the most interesting artists of the Renaissance. His biographer was Giorgio Vasari, the contemporary of Michelangelo who is considered to be the first art historian. Vasari collected stories about the most famous and popular artists from the Renaissance, and his book, The Lives of the Artists , became a bestseller. His narratives are full of personal remarks, perhaps based on hearsay and his own judgment, on the character of both the art and artists themselves. With that as the basis, we come to know Piero... Read more
To view and zoom in on image click here . Who prepared the young heart and mind of Mary to respond to God in humble faith with a fiat, her “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel? Where did Mary, the Mother of God, learn to listen attentively to God’s word? The beautiful painting The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple , by Italian artist Andrea di Bartolo in the first decade of the fifteenth century, offers insight into Mary’s life through one pivotal moment in her youth. This event, of course, is known largely from early apocryphal writings. In this... Read more