Today commemorates the Passion of John the Baptist, marking a somber and violent end to a life that was instrumental to the foundation of the Church. Father Steve Grunow examines the circumstances surrounding St. John's beheading, and how they illuminate a depraved side of his executors that is often overlooked.
I remember with great fondness childhood visits to the Art Institute of Chicago with my father. Those visits instilled in me a sense of the importance of the arts and an abiding appreciation for the beautiful as a route of access to God. But, those visits also taught me something else about the macabre sensibilities of Catholic art. Some of the paintings that made the greatest impression were hardly pretty pictures. One was Bernat Martorelli’s “St. George and the Dragon” (of note were the skeletal remains of the dragon’s victims splayed out at the bottom of the painting) and six paintings by Giovanni di Paolo that detailed significant events in the life of St. John the Baptist.
If I remember correctly, the startling finale to these panels was the execution of the saint, which had poor St. John’s body positioned as leaning out of a window and captured as if in the moment right after his head had been lopped off. Crimson blood runs down the bottom of the windowsill. The saint’s decapitated head seemed to have been caught like a tossed basketball by a cooperative servant. Vivid. Better than anything I had come across in a horror movie.
The passage of time has taught me that what is most memorable about the story of the death of John the Baptist is simply not the gruesome detail from di Paolo’s painting that had captured my childish imagination. The tale of John’s terrifying demise is expressed succinctly in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark; both are chilling and perceptive accounts of human cruelty and cultural dysfunction....
The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, and Kerry Trotter will be watching with bated breath. Read on to see why it's time to look beyond the scarred faces, and experience the sport for the beating, spiritual heart within.
I grew up in a hockey house.
While Chicagoland homes of the 1990s were held hostage by the Chicago Bulls’ easy brand of fandom, our home was not-so-quietly standing vigil for the most sacred time of the hockey year.
The Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks were my team (tough stuff for most of that decade), but we were equal opportunity fans when it came to the playoffs. Often we weren’t privy to seeing our chosen organization even make the cut, and while disappointing, it really didn’t matter. The teams that advanced were often irrelevant. It was the style of play and the allegory of the struggle that made the Stanley Cup worth watching.
Many a May evening was spent in my parents’ darkened den, my father, brother and I screaming at the TV, nervously laughing at miraculous saves and tense power plays, running out of the room when the clock ran down perilously close to a win (or loss), and fighting back tears when Lord Stanley’s Cup was hoisted high above all those bearded, bloodied, toothless faces.
And I wasn’t speaking in hyperbole about the “sacred” thing. All that work in order to drink from a cup? We're treading on familiar ground here...