The Man with Eyes All Over

William Blake Ezekiel vision four living creatures
William Blake’s illustration of Ezekiel’s vision of the four living creatures

The man wrote a book. One of a set of four, written by four different men. St. Matthew knew one of the other three very well, to be sure. But he may never have even met the other two.

Together, but apparently without explicitly co-ordinating anything among themselves, the four evangelists produced four little books filled with unique divine fire. These four books occupy so elevated a place in the history of books that the only possible image for them is: Terrifying angelic animals (and a man) gazing out in all directions from the throne of God itself. Of the “four living creatures” of Ezekiel’s and St. John’s visions, the man represents St. Matthew.

But the most important image is this: The image that reading these four books forms in our minds. We read these four books over and over again, and we read all the other Scripture books connected with these four. And, as we read, God gives us the image of Himself. God Himself, made man. Jesus. In our minds.

What if these four brothers of ours–St. Matthew and the other evangelists—what if they had never bothered to undertake the painstaking task of writing? What if they had, instead, chosen a more-pedestrian pursuit, one less fraught with agonies of self-doubt and fear of misunderstandings?

Where would the human race be? In what desperate darkness would we linger, if the image of Jesus of Nazareth simply had never been communicated to us? If the four Holy Gospels, which paint the definitive portrait of the everlasting Adam—what if these books did not exist? Then we would have to come to church and listen to someone read out from the works of James Patterson or the Dalai Lama.

And what about all the other forebears of ours who lovingly preserved these books for us, so that we can read them now? Against all odds, considering the way time eventually ravages everything. We revere these forebears of ours as a group under the name “holy Mother Church.”

So: Thank you, St. Matthew and the other evangelists, for writing. And thank you, holy Mother Church, for loving their words enough to give them to us as an inheritance. A four-fold literary treasure beyond all price.


four living creatures evangelists carving.JPG

What does ‘Evangelist’ Mean?

Blessed Pope John Paul II has been called the greatest evangelist of the 20th century. When Franciscans and other monks and nuns take their vows, they profess the three evangelical counsels. And, today, we venerate St. Matthew, the evangelist.

The word ‘evangelist’ or ‘evangelical’ can be used to mean a number of different things. But all of the meanings have one thing in common. To be evangelical means: ‘to start from Christ.’

St. Matthew the Evangelist started from Christ. Like Mark, Luke, and John, Matthew took what he knew of the earthly life of the Savior, and wrote a little book, so that we, too, can get to know Him.

Pope John Paul II started from Christ. Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc., start from Christ, too.

To be an evangelist means to start from Christ. By the same token, to start from Christ means to be an evangelist. If we focus our eyes on Him and listen to what He says, we will draw others to Him.

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” We can take a cue from St. Matthew here, too. He knew he needed a soul doctor. He knew he needed a teacher. And since Matthew knew that he relied on the mercy of God, he attracted others to God’s mercy, too.

When the Lord Jesus came to Matthew’s house, many sinners also came. Why? Because their friend Matthew had found new peace and happiness, and they came searching for the same thing.

If we want to evangelize, how often do we have to start fresh from Christ? How often did St. Matthew? Every day? How about every hour of every day?

May the Lord accompany us at every moment. May everything we say and do proceed from Him and lead towards Him.

Mother Helps the Timid

Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem seated on a male colt, the foal of a donkey.

The time came for this prophecy’s fulfillment. St. Matthew recounts that the Lord Jesus had his disciples bring to Him both the young colt AND the mother donkey.*

Christ knew that the trip up to Jerusalem would be too much for the little animal to manage by himself. The colt would need the comfort of its mother’s presence. It would be a pretty intimidating ride up to the city. So the Lord had the mother walk alongside the colt.

Guess what? The Lord knows that we are, each of us, a little feeble of foot. The trip up to Jerusalem would be too much for us to handle individually. Contemplate the Passion of the Son of God? Terrifying. I would stop dead in my tracks, and turn around and make a break for Bethphage.

The Lord does not leave us in solitude to enter the dark holy of holies of our religion. He leads us in with our mother, the Church, right beside. We make our way through the breathtaking and excruciating events of Holy Week together, the Church united in prayer throughout the world.

*Click HERE for a full apologetic exegesis regarding this detail.

St. Matthew

In honor of St. Matthew’s feast day, we present El Greco’s portrait of him:

el greco st matthew

This painting is in the El Greco Museum in Toledo, Spain.

As you can see, El Greco’s figures are elongated.

The museum guide in the Prado in Madrid told us that all the people in El Greco’s paintings are 13% taller than they should be.

By the by…El Greco was indeed a Greek. He was from Crete. (He was a Cretan, though hardly a cretin.)

The Spaniards could not pronounce his name, so they called him “The Greek.” (No relation to Jimmy the Greek.)

jimmy the greekJean Poyet was a late-medieval illuminator who produced the beautiful image of the Mass you see below. He also drew a magnificent St. Matthew.

The picture of St. Matthew is in the “Book of Hours of Henry VIII,” which is in the Morgan Library in New York. Alas, I cannot find the image of St. Matthew anywhere on the ol’ internet, so here’s Poyet’s picture of the Holy Mass instead.

Happy feast day to all Matthews!

jean poyet

…With bad luck like this (see below), you are going to lose to the N.Y. Giants, even if you are the Dallas Cowboys in the home-opener in your billion-dollar new stadium:

…These old Bests are retired:

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