Friday, December 10, 2010

Keys & Eyeballs

This article has been linked to Sunday Snippets and Amazing Catechists

This is based on an unplanned part of last week's class, a  digression that I decided to post separately. Some of the saints and all the pictures are from prior years' classes, e.g. I had no pictures this time, but drew instead. I may bring the images next week to recap.

"Let's talk about the New Testament a bit in general. For the next few weeks we'll be discussing Jesus' life. What books in the New Testament are about Jesus? The Gospels! Yes, how many are there? Four? Yes, who wrote them? Peter? Good guess, he wrote some Epistles, but no Gospels. Paul? Nope, Paul's an Epistle-writer, too. Lucas? Yes, what's his name in English? Luke! Yes. That's one...any more? Y'all know this, MatthewMarkLuke&John. Oh yeah. Yeah, so say it! MatthewMarkLuke&John!  Yes. The four evangelists [on the board]. Remember the Greek word evangelousios means "good news" or "good message;" why are these 4 saints called evangelists? 'Cause they wrote the good news? Yes, the Gospel at first was just preached out loud, but as the apostles got old and began to die, the evangelists wrote the "good message" down. And watch the magic finger again [I erase evangelist down to angel]...remind me, angel  (ἄγγελος) means...messenger! Yes, good.

Hey, here's a fun way to remember the four evangelists: [on the board] A-L-B-E, 'albee'. That stands for Angel, Lion, Bull, & Eagle. Those symbols match up with MatthewMarkLuke&John like so [on the board]:

A   L  B  E
M  M  L  J

 So Matthew's symbol is an...angel! Yes, and John? Umm...eeeEagle! Yes, and so on. Remember, before there were printing presses very few people could read, so they learned a lot about the Bible by looking at statues and stained-glass images. And if people couldn't read, how would they know if an old man in a picture was Matthew? No guesses? Look at this picture of Matthew & tell me how you know who he is:

He's with an angel! That's right! And what's he doing? Writing! Yes, writing what? The Gospels! Well, not all of them, just the Gospel according to...Matthew! That's it! Now if there were no angel, what would you still know about this saint? He's a Gospel-writer? Yes, genius at work! So St. Matthew has two symbols; we call these symbols attributes. His two attributes are...the angel, yes, and...the feather? Yes, the pen. The Latin word for feather is [write] p-e-n-n-a, penna. Why do we call a pen a pen? 'Cause it used to be a feather?  Yes. The pen and the Bible make one attribute.

Is this saint an evangelist?

Yes, he's writing in the book. Yes, he's writing his Gospel in the Bible. Which evangelist is he? No he sitting on a fish? Ha, a lion! Yes. That doesn't look like a lion. Sure it does, but remember most people never saw a real lion, there were no zoos for centuries. And no photographs from Africa. So the artist may have had to guess a little. Plus, he made the lion look like the evangelist. So, which saint has the lion as his attribute? Umm...Mark! Yes! If you look closely you can see his name written in Greek, MARKOC, but remember, most people couldn't read that. Hey, what's that hand coming out of the cloud? God's hand? Yes, that cloud's like a Shekhinah, showing God's presence. The painting shows us that Mark is looking to God for inspiration, so that he writes what God wants him to write. That's why we say the Bible is inspired by God.

Who can tell me about Venice? Huh? C'mon, new topic, tell me about Venice. It's in Italy? Yes, why is it special? They have boats instead of cars. Yes. The symbol for Venice is a lion; can you guess who the patron saint of Venice is? Umm...St. Mark? Yes, genius! And the cathedral there is called the Cathedral of...St. Mark! Yes! If you go there, you'll see [draw & talk] a big column like this, what's this on the top? A lion? Yes, the Lion of St. Mark. He's all over the place in Venice. Usually he is holding a book, like so:

Is that the Venice phonebook? Ha, it's the Bible! Yes, probably open to the Gospel of John? Ummm...wouldn't it be Mark's Gospel? Yes; just checking.

I think y'all understand the evangelists pretty well now. Here are a couple of martyr saints. The story is that St. Lucy had her eyes gouged out, so they are her attributes:

Ewww, gross they're on that plate! Yes. Not the usual is it? By the way, that palm she holds is an attribute for martyrs. Here's another martyr, St. Bartholomew:

St. Bartholomew's story is that he was skinned alive. He's holding his skin, and the knife he was skinned with see? Ewww, gross! Yes, well, even today Christians are being martyred in Africa, the Middle East, India, some people still hate Christians enough to kill them. Why doesn't he have a palm if he's a martyr? I don't know...the palms don't show up in all the martyr pictures.

Two more saints and that's it. Statues of them are in front of St. Peter's in Rome. One of them might be...he's in front of...St. Peter's...oh, St. Peter? Of course, what a gimme! What's his attribute? No guesses? Jesus gave it to him...still no guesses? Well, I'm not telling. Y'all pay attention during the rest of the year and tell me when Jesus gives Peter his attribute. Who's the other saint? Uh-uh, I'm not telling that tonight, either.

Hey, that was diverting, but we have stuff we're supposed to be covering so let's get back on topic. Remember when you see images of saints, pay attention to the details.