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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Creative Hand
An art tour initiative brings out the spiritual and artistic richness in Manhattan museums.

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Br Eric Wandrey, LC, presents artwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

May 6, 2011. New York, NY. Windows to the faith are to be found in all walks of life, from missions in the poorest regions of Mexico to the masterpieces hanging along the marble corridors of Manhattan’s art museums. A new initiative, The Creative Hand, was recently developed to give New Yorkers a spiritually enriching encounter with the treasures just a few blocks away.

On April 2nd, Br Eric Wandrey, LC, who is currently doing his apostolic internship in Thornwood, NY, led an art tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Intended for New York professionals, the tour was organized by Mario Bruschi, a Regnum Christi member from New York. On the most recent tour, 50 professionals viewed religious paintings by Rafael, Carraci, Georges de la Tour, Carravaggio, and others.

For each painting, Br Eric presented some interesting facts about the artist’s personal background, particular style, and use of iconography before delving into the spiritual meaning of the work. For example, he noted that Georges de La Tour’s “The Penitent Magdalene (1625-50), was painted after the artist became involved with a Franciscan-led religious revival in Lorraine. His style was influenced by Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro technique, and he took “nocturnal light effects to
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Br Eric Wandrey, LC, presents Georges de La Tour's "The Penitent Magdalene."
an unprecedented level.” As for the iconography, various symbols show Mary Magdalene turning away from her prior attachment to her own beauty, and reflecting on the inevitability of death: she is looking into darkness, a symbol of death, rather than at the mirror, and holding a skull. Her jewels are thrown on the floor, indicating her rejection of worldliness, while in the mirror a candle slowly burns away—yet another symbol of approaching death.

After presenting the painting, Br Eric invited the participants to apply its spiritual lessons to their own lives: like the pre-conversion Mary Magdalene, we too can become excessively focused on material realities, whether they be beauty or wealth or success or comfort. And like her, we must detach from these things so that our hearts can be free for something better—for a love that will take us through the portal of death, from this life into the next.

After the tour, several participants commented that they appreciated the spiritual reflections on the artwork, since it brought ideas and lessons to light that had never occurred to them before when looking at those paintings.

"I never considered the idea of art as a form of prayer, but after hearing Brother Eric´s talks, it has given me a new perspective on both art and prayer," said participant Nancy Peters. "Br Eric makes everything easy to understand, and the way he gives us something personal to ´take away´ from each painting is important, and helpful for us to share it with others."

For many, it was a different and yet helpful way to enrich their walk through Lent and prepare for the celebration of the Paschal mysteries at Easter. And for the organizers, it was the start of what promises to be a worthwhile series that will continue throughout the coming year.



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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