At the core of Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez’ spirituality (Pope John Paul II said) was his faith in the Resurrection. He promoted the Easter Vigil as the defining moment of Christian spiritual life, repeating often, “We live for that night.” (Vivimos para esa Noche)
In 2001 I was deeply honored and humbled to be commissioned by the archbishop of San Juan, Monsignor Roberto González Nieves, to paint the official portrait of Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. Significantly, it was to be given as a gift from Puerto Rico to the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City. Indeed it is exhibited there in the Hall of Saints.
The Portrait is painted with various symbolic elements which express a visual prayer that “speaks to the eye”. In other words, what was it that helped bring Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez to such an intimate connectedness to our Lord and Savior? The absolute serenity and joy in Charlie’s look is the faith that we seek, the faith that seeks us.
Today is Earth Day. What better moment to pay homage to the noble “El Jíbaro Puertorriqueño”, the Puerto Rican cultural icon! “El Jíbaro” symbolizes to me the “salt of the Earth”
“El Jibaro Puertorriqueño” is a painting inspired by my neighbors who have cultivated the land of their ancestors from the beginning.
Don Pepe represents for me all those who still cultivate the land; living links to our past, sustenance today and hope for abundance and sustainability in the future.
He represents, on the one hand, the constant battle between the so-called permanence of concrete and asphalt which is quickly engulfing our fertile land and drying up our lakes and rivers due to urban sprawl and the overwhelming dominance of the automobile as symbol of impoverished planning.
And on the other hand, the stability and sustainability through cosmic spirituality which, along with intact families, are our guarantee of a healthy, harmonious continuity which must offset the suicidal (or more aptly expressed, planeticidal*) race to deplete our natural resources.
*the killing of our own planet
This painting was inspired by my neighbor Don Pepe “el Múcaro” (the Owl) O’Neill, who I am proud to call my friend. May he rest in peace!
This carved tabernacle door depicts the hillside of Jerusalem where Jesus was buried. The rising sun shows it to be Easter morning as the three women skip down the path together in an expression of great joy upon realizing that Jesus has risen.
The grave is empty, sculpted out to serve as the handle of the door, so each time the priest opens the tabernacle, he must put his hand into the empty tomb.
Commissioned in 1992 by Padre Jorge Castillejo Lluisiá for Casa de Niños Manuel Fernández Juncos, San Juan, Puerto Rico
I carved this crucified Christ after an in-depth study of the book A Doctor at Calvary by Pierre Barbet M.D.
The main results of the study show in the carving the effects of asphyxiation symptoms where all the muscles of the body cramp up due to lack of oxygen and cause massive cramps resulting in agonizing death.
This wood sculpture is approximately life-size, carved in linden wood (circa 1981) for St. John’s Catholic Church in Montville, Connecticut. It was commissioned by Msgr. Bronislaw Gadarowski.
Madre Dolorosa Sorrowful Mother, a high-relief wood carving, expresses the agony of Jesus through His mother Mary. Specifically, the betrayal by Judas, the arrest, torturous scourging, trial, carrying of the cross, and finally the agonizing crucifixion and death at Golgotha.
The Sorrowful Mother contemplates the seven sorrows of her life, represented by the seven swords piercing her heart.
THESE STATIONS OF THE CROSS paintings show the process of conversion as Jesus was put to the test and tormented. His persecutors came to understand who he was.
The stations express a perspective that emphasizes the effect Jesus had on those present during his ordeal of carrying his own cross to his crucifixion on Calvary. As the bystanders are pulled into his suffering we follow by observing closely, the actual Revelatory conversion of the principal Roman soldier. We see how the outpouring of grief and compassion of others around him begin to melt away his own cruelty and indifference.
See how he marvels at the deep and complete faith of Veronica as she wipes the face of our Lord. Others also are going through the steps of conversion from confusion and despair to an awakening clarity as seen most visibly in the others behind Veronica.
We understand how the soldier at the foot of the cross could finally come to the realization that they had crucified “The Son of God”. (Mk 15:39)
About the paintings
These Stations of the Cross were painted for Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Guaynabo (Barrio Amelia), Puerto Rico. The artist conceived them with the community in mind and they include much of the spiritual and cultural qualities of Puerto Rico. Each Station measures 4-ft by 8-ft, painted in acrylic and gilded in copper and gold. They surround and crown the nave of the church.