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Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Answer to Mortal Sin-The Sacramental Life

Vermeer painted this Allegory of the Catholic Faith. Let us examine it together. First of all, we see the dominant impression of a woman in blue and white. Is she a converted sinner, like Magdalen? She is wearing pearls, the sign of the loose woman. But, she is in ecstasy, as if seeing something, or Someone beyond the scene, beyond the borders of the painting. (Can you tell I taught art history and art appreciation?)

She is the soul, caught up in the Bible, the Cross, the Chalice, which is the symbol of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

She is wearing sandals, like a pilgrim, reminding us of the Pilgrim Church, but she has her foot on the globe-she has overcome the world.

The white dress is the baptismal garment, and over her head is a glass globe, reminding her that she is made in the image and likeness of God in her faculties of reason and free will. Behind the soul is the reason for her freedom, the Sacrifice of Christ in the Crucifixion, complete with Our Lady of Sorrows and St. John. Like St. John, Mary is the Mother of this Catholic soul, and the representation of Mary Magdalen is a small, not quite replica of the soul.

The green velvet reminds one of victory over the earth, and the pet cat has killed the snake, the symbol of satan, and all evil. The floor reminds one of an Italian cathedral, and the black and white of truth and sin. But, there are designs and figures in the white tiles, too small for me to ascertain the meaning. The fruit could be a reminder of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, given in Confirmation.

Faith, hope and charity seem to be revealed in the fact of the woman's hand being on her heart, while the screen may mean the Confessional, another sacrament leading to life.

The curtain intrigues one with the medieval scene of a man and his horse. The man is leading the horse, like a priest leading the soul, or Joseph taking Mary to Egypt. Or, it could be a page leading the knight into the Crusades. The medieval world was ordered by the Church and there is a castle in the scene, and a multitude of natural emblems of flowers, plants, the stars all referring to natural law and cosmic order. civil order and peace.

One chair with the same blue as that holding the symbols of the Mass and Scripture, Revelation and Tradition, may be a reminder of the Chair of Peter. Blue, is, of course, Mary's color.

The answer to this world's preoccupation with sin lies in the teachings of the Catholic Church. If only we would take our task of converting all to Christ and His Church seriously.

There are more symbols here, but these are the ones I want to highlight today.

Thanks be to God for His Gift of the Church and the sacramental life she presents to us.