We are grateful in this season for the countless blessings that God has showered on us. The words “God multiplies good and feeds in me the multitude” issue a call to us to extend to the hungry, imprisoned, and oppressed the wealth of the loaves and fishes. Through extending these ancient but ever new seeds of Eucharist, we will witness increase of God’s blessings on our fragile earth.
Especially during this time of the year, I always think of our foundress Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger, of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She was someone who believed in educating the whole person. She used future tense in her wording and was always optimistic. Her eyes spoke of her perceptive heart and she looked on others with a motherly love and understanding. Blessed Theresa lived from 1797 until 1879. On November 17, 1985 she was declared Blessed by the church, the first step before canonization.
On this carving which is in the back of our convent chapel on Good Counsel Hill in Mankato, MN, I chose to put the words, “God’s cause is the only concern of our hearts.”
Lord be merciful. Hear our prayer
Give new life to these chosen ones.
Pray for us
These words have been in my head for many years. As a child I recall times when we would pray the Litany of the Saints in church. On the day of my Final Vow’s I remember it being sung as part of the ceremony. For me there was and is something special about hearing those words repeated over and over again.
At this time of the year, when the leaves in Minnesota display their colorful beauty, I find it a wonderful experience and memory for me to go exploring in the woods. As a child I often enjoyed going to the woods during the different seasons. Each held it’s own beauty for me. I still find that nothing quite speaks to my heart as a walk in the woods. The piece I am commenting about today invites us to do just that. The various varieties of leaves leads us deeper and deeper into the woods. It is similar to the variety of people that we encounter on our life’s journey.
A little over a month ago I showed the beginning of a new carving that I was working on titled “Inner Light.” Since then I have finished the piece and would like to share how it turned out.
This is an explanation and picture of one of the two piece that I have hanging at the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, MN during the month of September. I received third place on this piece at the original competition at the Benedictine Monastery of St Paul in Maplewood, MN. If you get a chance to go to the Basilica, both carvings are hung together in the aisle next to the St Joseph altar. I described “Offering” in my last post and today I will give an explanation of “The Heart of the City.”
On this and my next post I would like to show and describe the two pieces that are hanging in St Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis, MN during the month of September, 2013. You will notice a picture of both of them in my gallery section. In February I won an Honorable Mention at the Benedictine St. Paul Monastery in Maplewood, MN on the piece I am talking about today.
This wood sculpture calls us to answer needs of others. Within the larger structure of a fish is the net of hunger we are all caught in and our need to be side by side with solutions to that hunger.
For a few weeks now I have been working on a new carving and enjoying the direction it is taking. I titled the piece “Inner Light.” I first made a small sketch then glued up three boards using my six foot clamps. I enlarged my sketch on the wood and began carving. As I went along in the carving I made some changes to the drawing because I noticed a better way to emphasis what I was wanting to express.
I would like to share a bit of the process of doing a linocut or woodcut. This is a rather small linocut, so the lines are quite fine as you will see by the picture of the linoleum. You carve away everything that you do not want to appear on the print. You will also notice that it is done the opposite way from the final print. Sometimes in my excitement to see the finished piece I have forgotten to do it in reverse only to find out when I print the piece it is the wrong direction that I wanted. So then I have to start over. Once the linoleum or wood block is how I want it, I use a brayer and roll block ink over the piece to print. I place the paper on top and use a wooden spoon to rub over it and pick up the details. It usually takes me a few tries at the printing to get it looking like I want it.
In the fall of 1994 I was privileged to go to Stuttgart, Germany and to study with a Franciscan Sister who was quite renowned for her woodcut prints and liturgical work in many churches. I was able to study and work with her for six months. Her name is Sister Sigmunda May, OSF. This by far was one of the best experiences of my life. She taught me how to follow my heart and carve what was in my heart so it would have life. I have met people at critical junctures who have inspired my choices and Sigmunda definitely was one of these people. She helped me loose my umbrella of rules and be free with carving and woodcuts.
Today is the feast day of Anne and Joachim and I wanted to share a piece I carved in 2004 for a Health Care Facility in St Paul, Mn. The reason that I suggested carving grandparents as we started discussing the project is because they are an example that the people in the facility could identify with. Anne and Joachim were the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Mary. Not a whole lot of information is given about them in the bible but we all know the important role that grandparents and parents hold in a child’s life.
I thought it might be a good idea to explain how I go about creating a carving. I buy my lumber at a local saw mill and by now you have probably figured out that I use linden wood which is commonly known as bass wood. This is a hardwood but one that does not have much grain in it. Early on in carving I discovered that I was allergic to some woods so I usually stick with kiln dried bass wood because it is a softer hardwood and easily accepts the different stains that I use. After planing the wood and running it through a joiner, I glue and clamp the boards together for the size I need for my drawing. Now I sketch what I am going to carve right on the wood. Then I clamp the piece of wood down and start to carve removing the wood to different levels. As you can see in the photo below the chips begin to accumulate and are eventually recycled for starting fires in fireplaces.
Thomas Merton was born on December 10, 1941 and died December 10, 1968. He arrived at Gethsemani, a Trappist monastery in Kentucky, and there spent 27 years. The journals that Merton kept during this time contain more than 1,470 references to nature. Nature surely influenced his thinking and his prayer. He liked to discover the “hidden wholeness” in the creation around him.
Recently I learned something new about Our Lady of Good Counsel. While I was with a group touring a chapel I heard a person describing a stain glass window dedicated to Mary. It peeked my interest due to the fact that I live on Good Counsel Hill.
In 1989 I had the opportunity to view the original fresco of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Genazzano, Italy about 30 miles south of Rome. I remember being very surprised at the appearance of the piece.
The term fragment is used to describe something that is broken off or incomplete. The apostles were told in the scripture story to pick up the fragments of the leftovers after feeding the crowds with the loaves and fishes. We know that in fragments there can be gems. People go to garage sales and hunt through other’s garbage all in search of a treasure. We need to start seeing the fragmented in society as a treasure instead of an inconvenience.
Rabbouni is the title of a new piece I have just finished. This word was proclaimed in the garden by Mary Magdalene when she was the first to hear Jesus speak after the Resurrection. This word means teacher. Mary Magdalene knew instantly the sound of Jesus voice and in that moment recognized the depth of what she was witnessing.