As you know, I have been on my knees pleading with you to listen and watch the daily English mass in Medjugorje said by the Dominican chaplain for English speaking pilgrims, Fr. Leon. I know, most of you are very busy and have not found the time to obey this little Iowa farm girl. So, as Fr. Leon’s homilies get better day-by-day, with the best today, even though I have said that each day for some time now, I am taking the liberty to try to summarized today’s homily, hoping this will tempt you to go to MaryTV.tv on your computer and listen and watch Fr. Leon say mass in English.
Today is a very special day, the Feast of St. Matthew, the former tax collector, Apostle, and writer of the first book of the Gospels. His original name was Levy, a good Jewish name that shows up in my daughter’s family history as the maiden name of her great-grandmother. This is also a very special day as it is the 21st anniversary of Fr. Leon’s definitive vows as a Dominican. Thanks be to God. He made his final vows in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Early on in the homily, Fr. Leon said that parents should start saving for a therapist for their new born babies, not for college. Then, he told why. As a child, he was told that he was clumsy and shy. He believed it! When he got to Oxford University for his studies as a Dominican, (having already become a physician graduating from medical school), he was having dinner with his fellow students. He said, “I am shy!” The fellow students began to laugh so hard that they had tears in their eyes. They said, You, of all people, are not shy! He said parents should save money for their newborn babies for a therapist, as they are told so many lies that they believe! (I know he loves his parents and his childhood that probably was in India.)
Back to St. Matthew. One of Fr. Leon’s favorite painters is Caravaggio, known, rather for his so-called sinful life, along with his great gift as a painter. Caravaggio was aware of his shortcomings and even spent time living in a monastery to try to reform. As it turns out, when Contarelli, a donor, was giving money for the Church of San Luigi del Francesi in Rome, Caravaggio was given the first commission to paint St. Matthew for the Contarelli Chapel inside the church. Caravaggio was well aware of the dark side of life. He also knew that it was unwise to look into the darkness for very long, or it would look back at you. Fr. Leon gave the examples of Taro cards, Reikki, and more, and the danger of looking too carefully into the occult, as a evil spirit could pay you a visit, due to your dabbling into the occult opening up a portal to the dark side. The latter are my words, not Fr. Leon’s. He said the darkness will look back at you, as Caravaggio knew also.
Caravaggio was an Italian Renaissance painter during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He is famous for his dealing with light and dark in his paintings; in Italian, this is called chiaroscuro. Prior to Caravaggio, painters used black to paint a shadow. Instead, Caravaggio painted a shadow red and then painted black over it. As Fr. Leon described the artists, he said that if you look at the dark side of life too long, it will look back at you.
Thus, in the famous painting, “The Calling of Saint Matthew” by Caravaggio in the Contarelli Chapel, we can see the painter’s use of his technique of chiaroscuro. Fr. Leon walked by the Church of San Luigi del Francesi in Rome almost daily during his studies in Rome, and repeatedly viewed and studied this painting by Caravaggio. It is the major French parish in Rome. Fr. Leon then lifted his right arm and pointed his index finger slightly towards the floor. He then asked the parishioners if this reminded us of another painting. Then, he told us that Caravaggio was imitating Michelangelo’s painting of God the Father on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In the fresco in the Sistine Chapel, the finger of God is pointing at Adam; in “The Calling of Saint Matthew”, the finger of Jesus Christ is pointing at Levy, who later became St. Matthew, the Apostle and former tax-collector. Jesus saw Matthew at his seat in the custom house and said, “Follow me!” and Matthew rose and did so. Fr. Leon went on to say that Caravaggio was wise and in the painting, the only source of light was Jesus Christ.
Being an artist, and student of art history, Fr. Leon stole my heart with his story today on MaryTV.tv. I hope you also are inspired to tune into his daily English masses from Medjugorje. They just keep getting better and better. If you are short of time, and cannot watch the whole mass, they have a link for the homily only. Then, too, you can join him for the Consecration to Jesus through Mary according to the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, with the consecration on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. I assume most of you are also praying the 54 Day Miraculous Rosary with either the priests in Stockbridge, Mass. at the Shrine of The Divine Mercy or with Joan and Dave.
God bless you all. God bless Fr. Leon on the anniversary of his final vows into the Dominican Order. St. Matthew, pray for us! Amen.