faces of Jesus

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?

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Christ visits His Mother

Although extra-biblical and controversial, there is a tradition in Christian circles, especially in many Eastern Churches, that our risen Lord’s first visit was to His mother after His resurrection from the dead. Many western saints subscribed to this belief, such as St. Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus, d.1280), St. Ignatius of Loyola (d.1553), St. Teresa of Avila (d.1582) and Pope St. John Paul II (d.2005). 

Christ visits His Mother

John Paul II asked how the Blessed Virgin, who was “present in the first community of the disciples, could have been excluded from the number of those who encountered her divine Son risen from among the dead. On the contrary, it is legitimate to think that the Mother may really have been the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared. Could not the absence of Mary from the group of women who approached the tomb at dawn constitute an indication that she had already met Jesus?

I humbly painted this scene symbolic of the Divine Bond between Mother Mary and her Son; a bond unique, mysterious and wonderful.

Let us celebrate the Love between mother and child, children and mothers, and mothers and the Special Gift they have in bringing life into the world.

Happy Easter and Mothers’ Day!

Forever Young, Siempre Joven, Christ Among Us

A 27 sq ft work of art by A.VonnHartung for the students of Colegio (High School) San Juan Bosco at Parroquia Maria Auxiliadora, Cantera, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Párroco Padre Colacho SDB).

Commissioned by the Director and Theology Professor, Padre Jorge Santiago SDB .

Was installed in the main hallway of the school on the Feast Day of San Juan Bosco 31 January 2017.

The painting expresses an Epiphany of Faith, Joy, Love of Community and Learning, so much evident in the Christ-filled spirit of the school.

Director of School Padre Jorge Antonio Santiago SDB with artist Arturo Vonn Hartung and Felix “Junior” Rodriguez

Stations of Mercy

With great joy I share the news of this booklet recently published by the Catholic Truth Society (Publishers to the Holy See), “Stations of Mercy with Pope Francis” by Amette Ley ©2016, illustrated with my paintings of the Stations of the Cross, commissioned in 2001 by Mons. Antonio “Tito” José Vázquez for Parroquia Santa Rosa de Lima in Guaynabo (Barrio Amelia), Puerto Rico, blessed in 2002 by our Archbishop Mons. Roberto González Nieves OFM.

Booklet by Amette Ley published by Catholic Truth Society©2016 with paintings by AVonnHartung
Booklet by Amette Ley published by Catholic Truth Society©2016 with Stations of the Cross paintings by AVonnHartung
Jesus takes up his cross, ViaCrucis station 2 painting by A.Vonn Hartung
The book cover image is a detail of the second Station of the Cross painting (Jesus takes up His Cross)

Here is the description of this booklet from the Catholic Truth Society website:

“A journey with Pope Francis along the well known Stations of Christ’s passion to discover at every step the boundless and life giving mercy of God. Each Station is accompanied by a brief scripture passage and pertinent words of Pope Francis, giving his own particular insights into mercy. These themes of forgiveness and mercy, so important during the Year of Mercy, are readily absorbed by way of this simple and long-standing devotion.”

The Catholic Truth Society is a non-profit company which has been publishing booklets for the Holy See since 1868.

I give thanks for this Blessing and Honor!

Purchase this booklet
See the video of these paintings
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Doors of Mercy

Commissioned by the Archbishop of San Juan, S.E.R. Monseñor Roberto González Nieves for the arch above the main doors of Catedral San Juan Bautista in San Juan, Puerto Rico to commemorate Pope Francis’ declared Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy 2015-2016.

Cristo Abriendo Las Puertas de Misericordia_AVonnHartung
                                                     Painting by A.Vonn Hartung

Our Merciful Christ opens the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness to all who pass through them with repentant hearts.

The waves bow down to our Lord as when He calmed the Sea of Galilee, also representing the Island of Puerto Rico as well as Earth “Our Common Home“, an Island in the vast darkness and empty space of the endless universe which surrounds us.

The Doors open onto the paradise that is Heaven, the reward of all the faithful and repentant souls.

Christ Opening the Doors of Mercy at Catedral San Juan Bautista
Christ Opening the Doors of Mercy at Catedral San Juan Bautista
InstallingMisericordiaCatedralSJ
Installing painting at Catedral San Juan Bautista

 

 

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?

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And they saw the tomb was empty…(Mark 16)

When Jesus was resurrected, becoming for us The Christ, in that moment the world was changed for his believers forever! Earth burst into blossom. Earth glowed with light in the deep dark night of time. Everything, all creation was illuminated with divine light, hope.

AS SUCH I PAINTED THE STATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION (Via Lucis-The Way of Light)

And they saw the tomb was empty_ViaLucis1_painting on glass by AVonnHartung
And they saw the tomb was empty

The intense color is meant to bring this miraculous change into our consciousness. The colors are super infused with hue. Each color becomes the heightened essence of itself. To the uninformed eye these “stained glass” windows on the Resurrection might look fantasia-like. They’re meant to be however,  simple in form and basic in color.

 

"Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Jesus" ViaLucis2 painting on glass by AVonnHartung
Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Jesus

The figures show emotion in their gestures, their exaggerated movements. This is to show that reality was turned on its head.

Something so unbelievable had occurred that it changed consciousness forever. The world became full of hope, full of meaning because death had lost its power, its grip on humanity. Hallelujah! He has risen!

"After the Resurrection Jesus appears to the women" ViaLucs3 painting on glass by AVonnHartung
After the Resurrection Jesus appears to the women

These 14 Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) adorn the upper reaches of the nave of Capilla San Juan Bosco in Orocovis (Barrio Gato), Puerto Rico. They were commissioned by Padre Jorge Santiago Cartagena, SDB. Twelve similar windows were also commissioned by Padre Jose Luis Gómez, SDB for the church San Juan Bosco in Villa Palmeras, San Juan.

In 1998 Father Sabino Palumbieri, Salesian priest and professor of theological anthropology in Rome, “proposed the creation of a new set of stations [to complement the Stations of the Cross] centered upon the resurrection and the events following it so as to emphasize the positive hopeful aspect of the Christian story which, though not absent from the Stations of the Cross, is obscured by their emphasis upon suffering. The first major public celebration of this devotion was in 1990…”
It was officially sanctioned by the Vatican in 2001. (From Wikipedia-“Stations of the Resurrection”)

Contemplative Images for Holy Week

View a video of these Stations of the Cross, accompanied by sacred music

 The reason for the use of Sacred Art in the Church is to make visible what is invisible, to bring us to a more heightened state of awareness and connection with God and His Saints that we might share more fully in His Glory and Love for us, that we might go forth and DO HIS WILL.

Sacred Places of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection have always been venerated – early pilgrims retraced the Way of the Cross. So it was that the pilgrims brought back from The Holy Land the idea of recreating those sacred places and events to share with the faithful of their home churches.

It is said that Saint Francis of Assisi began the practice of the Stations of the Cross. It then spread throughout Italy and Europe. It was his practice to reproduce in a realistic way the events of our Lord’s life and deeds (an example, is his reported installation of the stable and manger with live animals and people in commemoration of the birth of Jesus).

In a similar way I conceived these Stations of the Cross to bring immediacy to the Passion of our Lord.

Each one measures 4-ft x 8-ft. This is because of the cavernous size and interior simplicity of the nave of the church, Santa Rosa de Lima, in the town of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  Intimacy was achieved by the use of local people as models and customs so that the faithful might better identify with the trials that Our Lord and Savior suffered and died for because of His Love for us.

 

Jesus is condemned to death. ViaCrucis Station 1 painting by AVonnHartung

Here we see Jesus, centered, surrounded by many but COMPLETELY alone, only those admitted from the status quo on both sides (although we see Flavia, wife of Pilate and perhaps Nicodemus who represent a small group of inside sympathizers).

In the midst of a crowded room He is a lonely figure. All signs point to Him, the columns, the center aisle and all who gesture, single Him out in accusation. He is The One! The cause of all their troubles, indignation and hatred! He must DIE!

 

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Television Interview with A.Vonn Hartung

EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) will be airing an interview on March 5, 2015 with A.Vonn Hartung about Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago, and Vonn’s experience painting the portrait that is at the Vatican.

THE CHURCH IN PUERTO RICO (30 minute duration)
Thursday March 5 at 3:00 am & 6:30 pm Eastern Time
[Puerto Rico time: 4:00 am and 7:30 pm]

The first 15 minutes of the program is a conversion story about a young man who turned his life around and is now studying for the priesthood; the second part is the interview with Vonn.

The EWTN program can be seen on–
Liberty Cablevision Channel 103 ( in Puerto Rico)
Dish Network Channel 261
DirecTV Channel 350
ROKU

Please visit the EWTN website for channel listings in your local area.
http://www.ewtn.com

Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago portrait by AVonnHartung_at Pontifical North American College Vatican
“Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago”
Oil portrait-
at Pontifical North American College, Vatican

 

This is the oil portrait of Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago by A.Vonn Hartung © 2001, presented to the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican on the occasion of the beatification of Carlos Manuel on 29 april 2001, and is on permanent display there in the Hall of Saints.

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