My retreat was at the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House on the campus of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. It was a great week. The retreat house was originally built as a a retreat house for priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago (though now others can make retreats there). It is well appointed and the chapel was a very prayerful place. It is a neo-classical style interior and has obviously been minimally touched since it was originally built (renewing carpeting and seating surfaces, but keeping the original design).
|Chapel at Cardinal Stritch Retreat House|
|Christ image above the tabernacle|
The picture I took overemphasizes the "manliness" of his facial features, as the lighting causes shadows to fall on his eye sockets and cheek bones. Without the lights, you can see that his eyes are blue and are gazing heavenward in a "less-stern" look. Regardless, here Christ is dressed in regal garments, and his posture exudes strength. He's in complete control of his emotions. Compared to most of the overly-expressive images that many more modern images portray, this image shows Christ as strong and in control. It's an image I want to think about when my life gets out of control!
Two images flank the tabernacle on either side: the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. And while they are obviously of the same design, the artist managed to portray sublime manliness in Joseph and sublime womanliness in Mary.
I offer these this week simply to invite you all to consider what the art in our sacred spaces is truly doing for our prayer. Does it reveal the truths about what we believe and about who God is (who Christ is) and about who the saints are? Or is it simply about making some artistic statement, disconnected from the purpose of the building as a whole? Too often, I think we get caught in the latter idea.
And so, here's to good art! And here's to all those who produce it and preserve it! Finally, a big thanks to all who made sacrifices so I could be away this past week to find rest and renewal. May God bless you all!