Sunday, 2 February 2014

New Style St. Michael

"St. Michael the Archangel, New Style", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Although this latest drawing of St. Michael has many traditional elements, it is not a true icon.  The idea for this drawing actually came from a St. Michael depiction drawn in a style similar to that of Art Nouveau.

As most of you know, I remain intrigued by the various elements found in that style from last century known as Art Nouveau with all its stylized patterns and flowers as well as young women and children in loose clothes and flowing, diaphanous gowns who appear to be freely casual rather than formally posed.  

While the drawing of St. Michael that inspired me was not truly in the style known as Art Nouveau, it did contain certain aspects that were found in the art of that period of the last years of the 1800s and early years of the 1900s. The style was a reaction to the more rigid academic art of the 19th century and was characterized by organic -- especially floral and other plant-inspired -- motifs, as well as very stylized, flowing, curving forms.

An example of drawing style and font (typeface)
during the "Art Nouveau" period (1890-1905)
"Art Nouveau is a philosophy of design according to which artists should work on everything from architecture to furniture, making art part of ordinary life."

 Artists working in this style used it for everything -- especially advertising -- as the new field of marketing began to develop and grow with the explosion of industrial competition during the 1890s.

Returning to the subject of today's drawing, St. Michael, I continue to learn new things about this most famous of the Archangels. Recently, I had an encounter with a Jehovah's Witness who lives in my building.  She was not trying to "convert" me as I had long ago made it clear to her that I was not at all interested in her views in the area of religion. What did surprise me, however, was her request to purchase a print of one of my earlier drawings of St. Michael.  I had assumed that her belief system would not allow her to be interested in an icon of an archangel.

Considering her request, I decided to do a bit of research in an effort to understand what might be going on.  After "Googling" my query, I found what I was looking for in the website "Catholic Answers"  Here is what they had to say on the subject:

Q: Is it true Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Michael the archangel and Jesus are the same person?

A: In a word, yes. The Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that Jesus was Michael the archangel prior to his coming to earth. They assert: "Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God's Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return". They arrive at this erroneous belief primarily through a misinterpretation of (1) Daniel 10:13, 21, where reference is made to a "great prince," Michael; and (2) First Thessalonians 4:16, where the Lord Jesus is described as descending from heaven at the sound of the archangel's voice. The JWs' own New World Translation of the Bible reads, " . . . the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice." Since the Lord Jesus descends from heaven "with an archangel's voice," the JWs understand this passage as "suggesting that he is, in fact, himself the archangel". While there are several problems with this line of reasoning, two points in particular easily reveal its fallacy. First, the fact that the Lord Jesus descends "with an archangel's voice" does not automatically mean that it is his own voice spoken of. This passage simply says that an archangel's voice will accompany the Lord's descent from heaven, in the same manner that the bailiff's voice ("All rise!") accompanies the judge's entrance into the courtroom. Second, Hebrews 1:5 says, "For example, to which of the angels did he [God] ever say: 'You are my son; I, today, I have become your father'?" (New World Translation). The answer to the question is, of course, "none."

I am not including this information in my posting because I have a desire to deride the J.W.'s and their beliefs, but simply to show what unusual things I am continuing to learn about "our" St. Michael -- the patron of the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and the first among the archangels and angels during the thousands of years of the teachings of Judaism and Catholicism/Orthodoxy.



Sorry to bring you the bad news; however, Ontario's Wiarton Willie emerged from his cozy den this morning and immediately spotted his shadow, which according to groundhog folklore means Canadians can expect six more weeks of what has already been a long, cold, snowy winter. 

As for America's rodent royalty, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil — the most famous groundhog of them all — did see his shadow this morning as well, heralding another month and a half of Old Man winter. 
"Marmot (Groundhog) Vancouver Island",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008

Regardless of what the groundhogs may be trying to tell us, Environment Canada is predicting the frigid temperatures that have gripped much of the country for the past two months will likely persist right through February.  So don't put your big boots away just yet!



Suki has found the weather inside to be a bit chilly -- in
spite of her thick fur coat -- and so she can frequently be
found wrapped up in one of my old sweaters!
Suki is not a true Canadian!  If I could locate her birth certificate, I have a suspicion that I would discover that she, like me, was actually born in some place like the southern U.S. -- in fact, I would suspect that she may even have come from someplace warmer and further south -- maybe even Trinidad or Nevis!!

I have come to this conclusion after observing her during this Arctic Vortex that has been visiting us for most of January and is threatening to stay with us for the remaining six more weeks of winter (according to Wiarton Willie)!  

While I have become acclimatized to the very cold weather after all these years of living in Canada, poor Suki seems barely able to cope with the cold weather even though she never even goes outdoors!

She seems to be sleeping more than ever and when she sleeps, I find her curled up under the blankets on the bed, wrapped in one of my old sweaters or, most annoyingly, trying to crawl under my legs as I recline on the sofa while watching TV in the evening!  This is the case even though I will often, out of pity for Suki, turn up the thermostat to 23 C -- which leaves me feeling much too warm but which seems to suit Suki just fine.

I do realize that she has to stay very close to the floor whenever she wants to eat, play or use the sandbox -- I also realize that the floor, these days, is much colder than either of us would prefer (the floor is hardwood with only a few area rugs ).  However, as I keep reminding Suki, it is winter after all and we do live in Canada.  

Of course, I do try to remember that this is the coldest winter that Suki has ever experienced while I have been through much worse in the 40 plus years I have been living in this country!  Thus, being the old soft-hearted soul that I am, I pick up this silly cat every so often and let her spend 20 minutes or so snuggled up next to my neck, resting her body on my shoulder.  This is her favourite place to be and I can even feel her getting warmer and more relaxed as each minute passes.

Sooner or later, I have to put her back down as my arms get tired and my shoulder starts to ache.  And even though I put her down gently in a spot that I know is bound to be warm, Suki still looks at me with those big eyes as though she is saying:  "how can you treat me so badly?"  Sometimes she makes me feel so guilty that I end up putting her back on my shoulder again!  I really do spoil this cat, don't I?  

As for me, things are OK -- certainly much better than this time last weekend!  At the moment, I am sitting her working away on this posting while keeping one ear open for the sound of my buzzer. The folks from St. Michael's Cathedral should be arriving any time now to bring me Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist -- the high point of my week.

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple -- forty days after his birth.  This feast day has also been known as Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin and the Meeting of the Lord.  Candlemas refers to the ancient practice of blessing candles on this feast day and having a candlelight procession prior to the beginning of the Mass.  

Candles, of course, are a source of light and the Scripture passage for this Sunday includes the words of St. Simeon found in Luke 2:29-32.  As you will recall, Simeon had been promised by the Lord that he would not see death until his eyes had seen the Messiah. So, when Mary and Joseph brought the child, Jesus, into the Temple as required by the Law, Simeon recognized Him and taking Him in his arms, said:  "Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled:  my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."

So, let me wish you all a holy and blessed feast day.  

I pray that Our Lord will truly be the "light of your life" and that filled with His light, we may show forth that light to one another so that we will all find the joy and peace which passes human understanding. Amen. 

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.  Amen. 


Em said...

Lovely work!! I ran into the blog and this piece and I knew what the art nouveau painting was! I saw it once and was fascinated by it but couldn't find any info on the artist or the piece, could you give me some information?

Sallie Thayer said...

Sorry, but I cannot give you any information on the origin of the image I used as my model when doing this drawing. I have seen the original Art Nouveau image of St. Michael on a number of web sites, but have never found any place where credit is given to the actual artist. If I come across the information for which you are asking, I will post it here. Thanks for your interest. S.T.