Many art historians say: El Greco was a pioneer Modern painter.
I have no interest in this thesis. El Greco is an L.R.S. Hall-of-Famer by his own merits. He is the greatest painter ever. He is in a class by himself.
I have to admit that I never noticed that St. Mary Magdalene is in El Greco’s Saint Peter in Penitence. She is rushing from the empty tomb, with the angel behind her. (Just to the left of St. Peter’s right elbow.)
(FYI: El Greco painted this subject at least six times. The Phillips Collection houses one.)
…Had enough Christmas sentimentality? Check out this hard-nosed Epiphany poem by another L.R.S. Hall-of-Famer…
…Speaking of Epiphany, it is a good day to mark your calendars with the most important days of the year. Click here, and scroll down to page 3.
Also, here is a homily for the Solemnity, with a little something thrown in for the Feast of the Holy Name:
When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they learned something they did not yet know.
They already knew that the King of the Jews was newly born—they had seen His star at its rising. They knew that He must be in the kingdom of Judah, in the land of Herod. They knew that He was of the royal house, that He was a priest, and that He would die for His people—that is why they brought the particular gifts they brought.
But the wise men did not know the king’s name. They did not learn His name until they arrived at the crib.
The angel had told St. Joseph the baby’s name. The Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin. We can imagine that the faithful shepherds learned the Holy Name when they visited the manger.
But no one else knew. The name of the baby is one of the greatest of the holy mysteries.
Under the Old Covenant, the name of God was spoken only once a year. The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood to atone for the sins of Israel and to invoke God by name.
The divine name which the High Priest spoke had been given to Moses. It was a mysterious word, practically impossible to understand. It was not a familiar name, not a name of affection and closeness. No—it was a four-letter reminder of the unbridgeable gulf that separates the omnipotent Creator from His lowly creatures.
So the wise men arrived, knelt down and presented their gifts. They probably didn’t even speak; their eyes asked the question. Our Lady understood, smiled sweetly, and looked to St. Joseph to speak.
“His name is Jesus,” Joseph said.
The name which is above every other name, the only name given among men by which we can be saved, the name the demons fear, the name by which miracles are wrought, the name through which our heavenly Father hears all our prayers—the divine name, the holy name, the name of God is: Jesus.
In Hebrew Jesus means, ‘God saves.’ That is why the angel explained to Joseph in his dream, “You are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
Of old, God’s name was Yahweh, I am Who am. He is the only One Who exists by His own power. But now He has revealed more.
The Holy Name of Jesus is God declaring to us: I am He Who saves.
There is only one God Almighty, king of heaven and earth; there is only one Lord of glory, only one great God omnipotent, and He is Jesus. He saves.
That was the beginning, when St. Joseph told the shepherds and the wise men, ‘His name is Jesus.’ Thirty-three years later, the Holy Name was emblazoned on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Fifty-two days after that, St. Peter stood on the steps of the Temple and declared to the pilgrims from around the world: “The Lord and Christ is Jesus.”
The Apostles carried the Holy Name to the corners of the earth, teaching the people to say, “I believe in God the Father, in one Lord Jesus Christ His Son, and in the Holy Spirit.” The Church throughout the world prays all her prayers through our Lord Jesus Christ. Millions of times a day, the Christian people finger their prayer beads and beg for the prayers of the Mother of God by declaring, “blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”
God has given His name to all the people of the world. When St. Joseph first spoke the Holy Name to the shepherds and wise men, it was like the sun cracking the horizon at dawn, or like the first little waft of incense emerging from the thurible. Now the sunlight fills the sky; now the sweet smell fills the whole church.
God has made His most intimate and personal name the daily property of everyone in the world. We can all call Him by name. No formal ceremony is required. We don’t need a temple, because His Body is the temple. We don’t need to sprinkle blood, because He already shed His blood for us. We don’t need to wait until a particular hour of a particular day of the year. We can call Almighty God by name anytime, anywhere, without a second thought. That is the way He wants it to be.
The only requirement for using the Holy Name is humble sincerity. We must speak the name with piety and reverence.
Part of the apostolate of the Holy Name is for us to bow our heads at the name of Jesus. Every time. When we say or hear the name, we bow our heads. If we hear the name fifty times in a day, we bow fifty times that day. When I kneel down and pray the Litany of the Holy Name, I just keep my head bowed the whole time. Otherwise, my head would be bobbing up and down like a woodpecker.
Blessed be the holy and precious name of Jesus our Lord!