September Art of the Month.

This Month’s ‘Art of the Month’ from Monsignor Monaghan is on the theme of vocations as we celebrate Vocations Awareness Week.

The school chaplains often hint that Jesus is inviting some pupils to ponder
if God is calling them to the Sacred Priesthood. Holy Mass is often offered
for that intention. However as a young fellow of the world, it must be
tempting to set the notion aside and think, “Who, me? Surely not” In his
painting, The Call of Matthew, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio who lived
as the 16th century turned into the 17th, has the future Apostle and
Evangelist, pointing to himself as if to say, “Who me?” On the 21st
September we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Matthew who was a tax
collector for the Romans before he was called by Christ. The painting along
with The Inspiration of St Matthew and The Martyrdom of St Matthew can
be seen in the Church of St. Louis of the French in Rome, not far from the
famous Piazza Navona. A feast of art, indeed. The titles of the church are so
beautiful and sonorous. In Italian, San Luigi dei Francesi. In French, Saint
Louis des Français and in Latin, S. Ludovici Francorum de Urbe. Your
language teachers might take umbrage with me if I did not add….and in
Spanish, San Luis de los Franceses. At first glance one might wonder if the
scene is indoors or outdoors as we notice the gloom of the canvassed
windows which give a shady, slightly sinister appearance. The cross in the
window in counterpoint to the rich coins on the table. The beam of light
highlights Matthew pointing to himself while the pointing finger of Christ
reminds us, perhaps of the finger of Adam in the Sistine Chapel by that
other more famous Michelangelo (Buonarroti). Notice the bare feet and
ancient robes of Christ and of St Peter, which contrast with the foppish
16th century clothes of the crooked accountants. The vastly different
modes of dress point to two worlds with the miraculous interrupting the
daily drudge. The Divine is about to enter Matthew’s everyday life and
bring about a spiritual awakening. Look carefully at the painting and be
inspired. Contemplation of Matthew’s Call can bring you to God and that,
surely, is the point of sacred art. With that in mind, perhaps you should ask
the question again. “Who, me?” the answer might well be, “Yes, you!”.
Monsignor Monaghan

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