Thursday, August 30, 2007

From Jesuit Review to The Cloisters.

Depending upon your philosophical, religious or political bent, you've probably read or at least heard of publications like National Review, the New Left Review, the New Oxford Review, or World Press Review. You may even have heard of the Downside Review, a venerable Catholic quarterly published by the Benedictine monks of Downside Abbey in England, or the Dublin Review, another venerable (and now defunct) Catholic journal which was published in London and had remarkably little to do with Dublin. By contrast, you probably haven't heard of Jesuit Review - unless, of course, you read some of the other blogs that have been talking it up.

Jesuit Review is a video series available online on Companion of Jesus, a website produced by John Brown, a Jesuit scholastic of the New Orleans Province. John was kind enough to favor me with a link on his site, and now I'm happy to return the favor by writing about Jesuit Review. This series of ten videos is the fruit of a collaborative effort between John and my friend and fellow Ciszekian Carlos Esparza. In each installment of Jesuit Review, Carlos and John introduce key elements of Ignatian spirituality, provide short biographical profiles of major Jesuit saints, and interview a range of Jesuits on various aspects of life in the Society of Jesus. The first five installments of Jesuit Review are already online, and another five are slated for release next month. Well-conceived and exceptionally well-produced, Jesuit Review offers a fine introduction to both the spiritual charism and the contemporary work of the Society. If you want to know more about the Jesuits - even if you know a lot about us already - you would do well to check out Jesuit Review.

While I'm on the general topic of introductions, I should say something about the past couple weeks at Ciszek. Fordham's academic year starts unusually late this year - classes don't begin until after Labor Day - so the scholastics here have spent the last ten days getting reacquainted after a summer in diaspora and getting to know the new men in our midst. The new first-year guys are a good group, and I'm looking forward to getting to know each of them better over the course of the coming year.

As part of a larger community effort to introduce the new scholastics to New York's considerable cultural offerings, I joined some of them on trips to some of Manhattan's many museums. In the process, I got my first look at the outstanding new Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On the same day I visited the Guggenheim Museum, an experience that served to remind me that modern art generally isn't my thing. That said, I do like the Guggenheim's distinctive building, which is sadly concealed by scaffolding on account of a multi-year restoration process.

This morning I made my maiden visit to another of New York's most architecturally striking museums, The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan. Situated in the middle of lushly wooded Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters is home to much of the Metropolitan Museum's considerable collection of art from Medieval Europe. The Cloisters' holdings include the famous Unicorn Tapestries, a lot of stained glass, numerous illuminated manuscripts and wood carvings, and a fair number of chalices and monstrances. All of these works of art are displayed in a building constructed from portions of several Medieval monasteries, which were purchased, disassembled and shipped across the Atlantic at a time when Europeans were apparently more willing to sell off their cultural patrimony to wealthy Americans. A unique blend of beautiful religious art and breathtaking monastic architecture make The Cloisters as evocative and enchanting a spot as you're likely to find in the middle of a major American metropolis. I'm sure that I'll be stopping there again during the coming year. AMDG.


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