The Passion of William Kurelek

lwk-wisementn.jpg

The astonishing career of the Canadian Catholic painter William Kurelek is an anomaly in the history of modern religious art. His paintings hang in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hirschhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and several other museums in North America and Europe. During his lifetime he was honoured with more than thirty national and international awards, no less than six documentary films have been made of his life and work to date, and at least sixteen books of his stories and paintings have been published, including his great project, The Passion of Christ, a series of 160 illustrations of the Gospel of Matthew. Kurelek became increasingly well-known as his work was published and as he attracted more and more attention in international magazines. The New York Times called him “the North American Breughel.” Memories of his childhood surfaced in award-winning books such as A Prairie Boy’s Summer and A Prairie Boy’s Winter. His imaginative Northern Nativity, a redepiction of the birth of Christ in Canadian scenes, became a modern children’s classic. In later years he concentrated on several volumes which illustrated the life of the ethnic peoples of Canada: the Inuit, the Irish, the Jews, the Poles and the Ukrainians. At his death he left an estimated ten thousand works of art (a figure which includes major drawings), two thousand of which were paintings completed during the seventeen years between his first exhibition and his death in 1977. The fame which came to him during those public years was in stark contrast to the desolation of his early life as an artist, during which he labored under chronic depression and almost universal indifference to his message.


Continue reading

Middle East Conflict and End Times


 “It is a complex situation and a volatile one,” O’Brien said. “Pope Benedict has said very clearly that what is needed in the Middle East is a just solution for the three major parties, Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian people.”

“This will take much prayer and sacrifice because the spirit of hatred and murder is at work,” he said.

O’Brien rejects either/or solutions that resemble choices between the devil and the deep blue sea.  He said there is a third, God-given alternative that must be sought.

“Hezbollah are clearly the bad guys in the present situation,” he said, but  Israel and Western nations must be extremely careful about resorting to a lesser evil to stamp out a bigger evil.

Continue reading

Millennial Fever or Millennial Denial: Are these our only options?

Ours is the second generation in the history of the Church to experience the turn of a millennium, and it is to be expected that the uniqueness of the event will have its effect on our perceptions of what is occurring and will soon occur in our midst. It would be high drama in any historical context, yet the unprecedented crises and crimes of this century have injected into the situation a tension that in many people approaches the level of cosmic dread.

Natural disasters are increasing exponentially; the economy is tottering on the brink of disaster; the y2k problem threatens the vulnerable infrastructure of the computerized developed nations, raising the specter of widespread social collapse in the immediate future, with ensuing famine and lawlessness; wars are increasing in number and ferocity; world-class magazines give plenty of attention to the outbreak of pandemic plagues and the possibility of comets and asteroids smashing into our once secure little planet, thus ending civilization with whimpers and bangs.

Continue reading