Saturday, June 04, 2016

Iconography: Respect, please

I like Leonid Ouspensky's idea, rather recent, that the holy paintings in Orthodox and some Catholic churches are halfway between devotional images/art as in Western Catholicism and a sacramental presence. Me on the veneration of images: "All can, some should, none must." All a Catholic must accept is that their veneration is a valid option. Rites such as the Byzantine may require them as a disciplinary matter.

A conversation with an artist who happens to be a sound, strong Latin Catholic.

I have lots of icons and other Byzantine Rite gear and books (including the out-of-print, impossible-to-buy Uniontown office books in English; Ruthenian); mostly stored away. I could live in the rite if I were called to.

If you do paint icons, if you haven't already, learn the rules of iconography. Some Byzantine-style art by well-meaning Latin Catholics is a disaster for the work of reunion; mistakes that, for example, say St. Joseph is Jesus' father (Holy Family images attempted in a Byzantine style).
Oh, I knew you were going to say that. Teh RUUUUUULLLLZZZZZ!!! How about I just paint what I please?
Privately you can pray, paint, etc. any way you want. Rite controls what you do in church, such as public art.

Because these estranged Catholics matter. They are estranged traditional Catholics, with a rite that beats the Novus Ordo, hands down. (My first traditional Catholic Mass in person was slightly latinized Ukrainian.) So the work for reunion matters, arguably the only ecumenism that does, because this reunion is very doable. The schism is largely because of our human failings: why so many Ruthenians schismed in America, for example; heartbreaking (it happened right here in Pennsylvania and similar places, still barely in living memory) and unnecessary. I may not be called to be Byzantine but do think I'm called to work to end this split.
Actually, John, being a free person, I can just paint whatever the hell I want. If people like it, I sell it and people stick it up on their walls. If it inspires devotion; win.
I hear you, but I'm just saying be careful with iconography. Just like we wouldn't want some hipster playing with Latin Catholic art. Reminds me of a loud woman online, originally Latin Catholic of course (Slavic Greek Catholics rarely play this game now), who bought into the online Greek Catholic converts' indifferentism, in which it's OK for Catholics to become Orthodox if they feel like it. This woman was making a big show of that, while saying she didn't accept their true-church claim either, and I stated my case that this undermines our work for reunion: if our people barge in and flout their teachings and rules, they won't trust us. I was kicked off that forum. Partly why I don't live in that rite.
I know nothing about iconography, and care just slightly less than that. I like the art. That's all it means.
I'm saying that if you adopt that tradition for painting, you owe it to the church to learn that tradition to do it right. People's souls are at stake.
I. JUST. LIKE. IT. Is that OK? Or is there a rule about it?
I get it. "Thy will be done." I've done my duty as a Catholic here.


  1. Cheese louise... Uptight a little?

  2. We Latins should instead focus on bringing back our own patrimony (especially Latin iconography) and getting rid of this Novus Ordo fluff that's been inflicted upon us.


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