Climate Change

Visualizing Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si”

Recently I received an email from a theology graduate student at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown New Jersey. Eileen Connor Callahan stated that she was writing about the correlations between Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for our Common Home and my painting On Earth as it is in Heaven: through Him all things were made Jn 1:3 (shown here), and she went on to ask me a few questions for her paper and slideshow, which was presented in early December 2018.

It was 26 years ago that I painted this work, which is more relevant now than ever before! Some folks think we as an industrial society and economic system have little to do with causing climate change/global warming, but what parents would gamble on their children’s lives and future generations if there is a possibility that we can do our best to protect God’s sacred creation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have learned that most Catholics/Christians have not read Laudato Si’, let alone studied the encyclical. It is clearly written and elegantly concise, and although Pope Francis has quoted popes going back to Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well as the research of the most eminent international scientists renown in their fields, it is not being discussed as a prioritized issue in our churches or society in general.

This painting points to Laudato Si’ which spells out in everyday language both the environmental and spiritual crisis we are facing.

Read Eileen’s paper EileenPaper_On Earth as it is In Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through Him all things were made Jn 1:3

It was 49 years ago that we first received an image of ourselves from the Moon. In the process of sending a man to the moon for the first time, Joseph Allen, one of the astronauts who was involved in the planning process recalls:

“Among all the arguments that were made for and against traveling to the Moon, nobody mentioned the possibility that the best reason would be simply to observe ourselves.”

And, that turned out to be the reason, to see ourselves from outside as planet. When we received the photo of our planet, it was a global revelation that changed the way we think. From then on, our consciousness has never been the same. We saw ourselves as we really are; alone in the vast darkness of space; small, delicate, resplendent with life, divine beauty.

It was not until the beginning of the 70’s that we began to think about ethics and care of the environment. This was only commented on by mystics and environmentalists, but since then everything has changed. The world has responded with a lot of important reflections. Now we have the scientific tools and the philosophical and ethical thinking to begin to reason about our responsibility regarding the environment.

Through Him all things were made Jn 1:3

 

 I  painted this Work (Oil painting on wood panel, 42 x 57″) when I was a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of C.O.R. here in San Juan, Puerto Rico back in 1992, inspired in part because of the deteriorating environmental conditions on this most delicate island, the thoughtless over-development and pollution that was going on, and the destruction of local communities. Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for our Common Home spelled it all out completely. Its message was clear and eloquently stated. It was a theological clarification of what all the science said, and for me Hurricane Maria slammed down the proof of it!

The painting is rhetorical in concept and presents us with two possibilities: one in harmony with God’s Creation, a future of justice, peace and sustainability. The other of plunder, chaos, endless war and an ultimate collapse of nature and life on our planet home as we know it. Earth is painted in the form of an egg, metaphorically symbolizing the fragility of Earth’s ecosystem as well as her natural abundance and fertility. The metaphor of the egg is also used to show a covenant broken and the resultant rupture of earth’s fragile ecology and humanity’s fall from grace caused by a flawed linear economic system based on the misuse of power and wealth, symbolized by the unholy use of GOLD.

There is no doubt about this. We humans have the tools to destroy or save civilization, because God created us with that capability. But he also created us with free will.

Caring for the environment is a moral issue. Pope St. John Paul II emphasized the priority of ethics over technology, and spirit over matter. If we destroy the earth, we destroy the divine creation, we destroy ourselves.

Is that God’s plan? Is that our plan?

READ MORE ABOUT THIS PAINTING

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith in Art

In his August prayer intention, the Holy Father speaks to artists, “That artists of our time, through their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation.

In response to Pope Francis’ prayer intention, the Catholic Truth Society requested I write an article about how I find Faith through my art. “Faith in Art” was published on 20 August 2017 on their blog CTS Catholic Compass.

Here is the Spanish translation

La Fe en el Arte

 

San Patricio (vitral en Iglesia San José)

En su intención de oración de agosto, el Santo Padre habla a los artistas: “Que los artistas de nuestro tiempo, a través de su creatividad, nos ayuden a descubrir la belleza de la creación”.

Como artista de Arte Sacro Católico, me esfuerzo por poner a Dios en mi trabajo.

Como un niño pequeño y creciendo asistí a nuestra Iglesia Católica local, San José en New London, Connecticut.

Siempre nos sentábamos en el lado sur por las hermosas vidrieras donde la luz de la mañana era más radiante; cada uno representaba un santo diferente. Creo que fue a causa de esta exposición temprana a la belleza sagrada que con el tiempo he dedicado mi regalo del arte a la Iglesia.

 

 

A medida que crecía llegué a entender que Dios estaba en todas partes, oculto en todas las cosas. Vi esto reflejada más en la magnífica belleza de la naturaleza, y al madurar en la fe vine a conocerlo a través de Cristo, en la humanidad.

 

Busco a Dios y me esfuerzo por revelarlo en mi arte. De hecho, es mi acto más fuerte de oración.

 

Así que ofrezco esta pintura en respuesta a la llamada del Papa Francisco al diálogo y la acción en su encíclica Laudato Si’, Sobre el Cuidado de la Casa Común.

La pintura es alegórica y hace una pregunta profética, ya que nos presenta sólo dos posibles futuros. Uno en armonía con la voluntad de Dios y el otro en desarmonía.

 

"On Earth as it is in Heaven"_oil painting by AVonnHartung
   “Thy Will Be Done” oil painting  42 x 57-inches

Empecé a pintarlo en 1993 y originalmente titulado “Hágase Tu Voluntad” tomado de la oración que Jesús nos enseñó, el Padre Nuestro.

¿Cuál elegiremos vivir, dejar a nuestros hijos y a las futuras generaciones?

 

Como cristianos, hemos aprendido que Dios nos dio Libre Albedrío, cuando en el Jardín del Edén, le dio a Adán la opción de ser heredero de todo bien en su Creación, pero le prohibió comer del fruto prohibido (Génesis 2: 16-17).

Adam optó por no escuchar a Dios y le desobedeció. Así que él y todos sus descendientes fueron expulsados y sufrimos el Pecado Original.

 

 

 

Dios nos dio una segunda oportunidad cuando envió a su hijo Jesucristo al mundo para redimirnos (Juan 3:16). Una vez más, la humanidad no escuchó, lo ignoró y la orgullosa élite gobernante y sus secuaces lo rechazaron y lo crucificaron.

 

Ahora bien, Dios nos está dando otra oportunidad, claramente hablada a través de su «Vicario de Cristo» en la Tierra, el Papa Francisco, en su encíclica Laudato Si, y a través de la ciencia que ha medido y nos ha alertado sobre la última extinción espantosa causada principalmente por la actividad humana, Resultando en daño cataclísmico a su creación.

 

Vamos una vez más no escuchar a Dios, no hacer su voluntad? ¿Volveremos a optar por rebelarnos contra él? A través de la indiferencia y orgullo seguir nuestro propio camino tonto hacia la destrucción?

Hay cristianos que están esperando, de hecho daría la bienvenida a la Segunda Venida de Cristo para que pudiera enderezar nuestro lío, para elevarlos en “El rapto”! Esto no es lo que pide Laudato Si’. Nos pide ser responsables del Regalo de la Creación, ejercer nuestro libre albedrío, nuestra inteligencia consciente y atender la llamada a cuidar “nuestro hogar común”.

 

En su encíclica, Nuestro Santo Padre nos habla de San Francisco de Asís cuyo nombre tomó como suyo, al convertirse en Papa (L.S.10).

En la pintura, vemos a San Francisco en primer plano con el buey fiel, símbolo del Evangelio de San Lucas y el Libro de los Hechos, abriéndonos el espectáculo completo de la conciencia y la elección fatídica ante nosotros.

 

Una elección que debemos hacer para cuidar la Creación de Dios, en armonía con su voluntad.

 

 

 

Como tal, pinté a Cristo, el centro de la Creación

(Por medio de él todas las cosas fueron creadas … Juan 1: 3)

Su divina Belleza, Palabra y Verdad que vi y oí como un niño, me esfuerzo humildemente por revelar aquí a través de mi arte, el amor de Dios por nosotros en su don de la Creación, a través de su hijo Jesucristo, nuestro Señor y salvador.

 

On Earth as it is in Heaven

In response to our Holy Father Pope Francis’ call to dialog and action on Climate Change in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home, I offer this metaphorical painting, On Earth as it is in Heaven,  as a visual prayer to raise consciousness and to encourage dialog.

[Leer en Español]

The title of the painting is taken from the prayer Christ Jesus taught us, The Lord’s Prayer, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.

The painting is rhetorical in concept and presents us with only two possibilities.

One in harmony with God’s Creation, a future of justice, peace and sustainability in the natural world. The other of plunder, chaos, endless war, and an ultimate collapse of nature and life on our planet home as we know it.

The painting asks the question of the viewer, each one of us, whatever our religion or beliefs, which future do we want to live in, leave to our children and future generations?

Continue reading