The one thing I enjoy so much about attending Mass each week, sitting in my pew as we worship God, is seeing the members of our community all around the room. What a wonderful feeling it is being part of something so special; even more so knowing there are so many gifted people so close at hand.
As I look up at the beautifully carved Risen Jesus hanging high over the altar there is a feeling of peace and contentment knowing that there is more to our daily living struggles.
I have traveled throughout the world and my feet have walked through many of the great cathedrals, churches, museums and government buildings that hold the creative treasures of famous artists. I know little of great art other than to recognize that some work is more beautifully crafted than others. I'm not sure I could name more than a handful of those artists. I have, however, taken the time to learn a little about the one great artist each parishioner of Saint John Fisher should know and appreciate. His name is Deane G. Keller.
Mr. Keller was born in August 1, 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut. Well educated in the arts, he eventually became a Professor of Drawing and Anatomy at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme. Passing way on January 4, 2005, he left a legacy, not only in the art world but directly to our Saint John Fisher parish. To quote his obituary:
An accomplished artist and sculptor, his works are housed in several permanent collections including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, Connecticut, Woodstock School of Art, Thomas Merton Studies Center at Bellarmine University, Louisville, Kentucky, Yale University, St. Raphael's Hospital (where his statue of Mother Elizabeth Seton graces the entrance hall), and Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford. His works have also been exhibited throughout New England, the Midwest and in Italy.
Deane was a recognized authority on drawing in the classical tradition, on representational art, especially the human figure, and was revered as a master draftsman, teacher, author and lecturer. He was particularly fascinated with the Middle East to which he and his wife Dorothy (herself a professor of Art History at St. Joseph's College) made regular trips to archeological sites. "Everything about these lands - the light, the desert, the ancient life-ways and the strong sense of history and prehistory - appeals to me," he wrote.
Mr. Keller lived here in Marlborough and attended our parish. The Risen Jesus is his work and something each and every one of us should appreciate. I would guess that the average person exposed to many of the great artworks throughout the world would stop seeing the beauty of those works, although I find that hard to imagine.
The next time you gaze at the Risen Jesus seeming to float above the altar, take a moment to reflect on the talents that God has given us and how our hearts and hands can create such great beauty.
Photo by Anthony Gargon
St. Thomas More, Martyr (Patron of Lawyers) St. Thomas More was born in London in 1478. After a thorough grounding in religion and the classics, he entered Oxford to study law. Upon leaving the university he embarked on a legal career which took him to Parliament. n 1505, he married his beloved Jane Colt who bore him four children, and when she died at a young age, he married a widow, Alice Middleton, to be a mother for his young children. This learned man numbered Bishops and scholars among his friends, and by 1516 wrote his world-famous book "Utopia."
He attracted the attention of Henry V who appointed him to a succession of high posts and missions, and finally made him Lord Chancellor in 1529. However, he resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation, when Henry persisted in holding his own opinions regarding marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. The rest of his life was spent in writing mostly in defense of the Church. n 1534, with his close friend, St. John Fisher, he refused to render allegiance to the King as the Head of the Church of England and was confined to the Tower. Fifteen months later, and nine days after St. John Fisher's execution, he was tried and convicted of treason. He told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that "we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation." And on the scaffold, he told the crowd of spectators that he was dying as "the King's good servant-but God's first." He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. His feast day is June 22.
St. John Fisher was born in Beverly, Yorkshire, in 1459, and educated at Cambridge, from which he received his Master of Arts degree in 1491. He occupied the vicarage of Northallerton, 1491-1494; then he became proctor of Cambridge University. In 1497, he was appointed confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, and became closely associated in her endowments to Cambridge; he created scholarships, introduced Greek and Hebrew into the curriculum, and brought in the world-famous Erasmus as professor of Divinity and Greek. In 1504, he became Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge, in which capacity he also tutored Prince Henry who was to become Henry VIII. St. John was dedicated to the welfare of his diocese and his university. From 1527, this humble servant of God actively opposed the King's divorce proceedings against Catherine, his wife in the sight of God, and steadfastly resisted the encroachment of Henry on the Church.
Unlike the other Bishops of the realm, St. John refused to take the oath of succession which acknowledged the issue of Henry and Anne as the legitimate heir to the throne, and he was imprisoned in the tower in April 1534. The next year he was made a Cardinal by Paul III and Henry retaliated by having him beheaded within a month. A half hour before his execution, this dedicated scholar and churchman opened his New Testament for the last time and his eyes fell on the following words from St. John's Gospel: "Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ. I have given You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. Do You now, Father, give me glory at Your side?" Closing the book, he observed: "There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life."
His feast day is June 22.