15 December 2014

A Time for Fasting. . .

I'm headed up to visit the Squirrels on Thursday. 

Just a tiny bit of chaos in my life right now. . .getting a tad stressed out.

So, I'm fasting from Facebook and blogging 'til after the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

And THANKS to Jenny K. for the paint. You're awesome.

God bless, Fr. Philip Neri, OP
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14 December 2014

Rejoice, Pray, Gives Thanks. . .always!

3rd Sunday of Advent
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Lay Carmelites/OLR, NOLA


Last Sunday we heard a tough question from St Paul, “Since everything is to be dissolved [by fire], what sort of persons ought you to be[?]” This is the sort of soul-searching question we ask when it appears that there is little else we can do to make things right. The sort of question that cuts away the fat and exposes the meat of the matter. When everything you know and love is rushing headlong toward a fiery end, and there is nothing to be done, nothing to be said, and the only thing that matters is the eternal disposition of your soul, you ask yourself: “What sort of person ought I to be?” Of course, for a follower of Christ, not knowing the time or place of the Lord's return, every minute and every hour of everyday is an occasion to ponder this question. Standing before us as Savior and Just Judge, our Lord draws us toward our final judgment, our ultimate end. And our response to his allure – how we choose to see and hear his invitation – says everything that can be said about our faithfulness to the mission and ministry we left us to complete. What response from us best exemplifies our faithfulness? JOY! 
 
Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul straightens their spines with an admonition, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks. . .” That's your plan for next week, your plan to prepare for the coming of the Christ-Child. First, rejoice always! Are you joyful, filled with joy? I don't mean, “Are you a nice person who's always smiling and laughing?” Ask any comedian – being funny, making others laugh is not always a matter of joy. There's plenty to laugh at in a despairing world, plenty to mock and disparage. Humor alone is not joy. Joy is an act of charity, a willful-doing-of-love; conscious, active behavior that give God the glory and increases the Good of another. Joyfulness then is the disposition, the attitude from which every truly loving act begins. Not all good deeds are loving. We can do “good deeds” out of selfishness – to gain advantage, to massage an ego, to put another in our debt, or to pay a debt. We can say nice things in order to avoid an unpleasant confrontation or to win someone to our cause. But every truly joyful act, every truly loving act is done so that God's glory is made manifest and the Good of another is perfected. To rejoice always is to live in a permanent state of giving God the glory for the love He has shown us and sharing His love abundantly, recklessly. 
 
One way – the best way – we can share God's love is to follow Paul's second admonition to the Thessalonians: pray without ceasing. Prayer, simply put, is talking to God; specifically, giving Him thanks and praise for His many gifts, and receiving those gifts to use for the benefit of others. But how do we give God thanks and praise w/o ceasing? Do we walk around mumbling the Our Father all day, or let the Act of Contrition run through our minds while we go about our work? We could. But Paul is pointing toward a kind of prayer that goes much deeper than mere recitation. To pray w/o ceasing is to make every thought, word, and deed a prayer. Make everything you think, say, and do an act of praise and thanksgiving to God. We accomplish this by “putting on the mind of Christ,” by wholly surrendering our hearts and minds to the mission and ministry of Christ. To make a cup of coffee, hot water must be strained through a filter of ground up coffee beans. To pray w/o ceasing, our thoughts, words, and deeds must be strained through a filter of sacrificial love. Is this thought, this word, this deed filtered through self-giving charity, through the joy that comes with receiving the Father's mercy?

Paul's third admonition to us is probably the most difficult: “In all circumstances give thanks. . .” Rejoicing always and praying w/o ceasing are too easy when compared to giving thanks in all circumstances. We understand the need for thanksgiving when we receive a gift or a compliment. Saying, “thank you” is a habit our parents instilled in us from day one. However, Paul says that we must give thanks in all circumstances not just when we receive something we want. Is it possible to give thanks for disease and disaster? Yes. For loss and setbacks? Yes. These are the times when thanksgiving to God is the most efficacious in strengthening our relationship to the Father. How? The whole point of giving thanks to God is to acknowledge our total dependence on His grace for everything we have and everything we are. If we are alive – even in the worst circumstances – then we are alive to give thanks. We are alive to serve, alive to love, and to forgive. In other words, we are alive to carry on growing in holiness and bearing witness to the Good News. Circumstances, by definition, change. We change. Our reactions change. God, however, never changes. He is steadfast in loving us and drawing us closer and closer to Himself. 
 
As God draws us closer to Himself, we respond by rejoicing always; by praying w/o ceasing; and by giving thanks in all circumstances. When we do these things, we not only heed Paul's admonitions, we also begin to imitate the ministry of John the Baptist. John is sent ahead to announce the coming of the Christ. He's not Christ himself nor is he an ancient prophet reborn. Like John, we are forerunners, harbingers of the Christ. Like John, we go out and bear witness to the mercy of Father, announcing the need for repentance, and rejoicing at the coming of the Lord. This season of preparation is set aside so that we might pre-pare; that is, pare away before he comes. Cut away anything that stands btw us and the Christ – pride, despair, vengeance, old wounds, jealousy, spite, anger – whatever might pull us away from Christ and toward the desolation of the Enemy. Like John, we were made to go back to God; we were re-made in Christ to preach and teach his Good News. In about ten days, Christ will come as a child – vulnerable, needy, small. When his hour comes, he will come again as Savior and Just Judge – powerful, merciful, majestic. Between now and then, btw this 3rd Sunday of Advent and his awaited return, we are drawn into the mission and ministry of John the Baptist – to preach, to praise, to bless in Christ's name any and all who see and hear the Word of the Father. As followers of Christ, our job is to make sure – with our rejoicing, our praying, and our thanksgiving – to make sure that His Word is clearly see and clearly heard.
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12 December 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

The Dems' self-exonerating CIA torture report backfires. . .releasing this "report" was just a political stunt by the out-going Dem cmte chair anyway. 

An examination of conscience for torture defenders. . .

DOJ report explodes the feminist "1 in 5" rape stat: "The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000). Needless to say -- 6.1/1000 is 6.1/1000 too many.

No. Pope Francis did NOT say that animals go to heaven. Never, never, never believe a word the media report about the pope, the Church, or much of anything else for that matter.

A 3rd century refutation of astrology. . .

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10 December 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing


Behold! The ethics of Narrative Journalism: ". . .to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.”

Delicate Snowflake law students allowed to postpone exams due to trauma caused by the the justice system working.

B.O. has done one good thing in six years. . .

Community enraged: rape allegations against nine men. . .we must learn from history!

7 Basic Errors of Secular Humanists believers. . .

Senate Dems issue report written by Senate Dems that exonerates Senate Dems of any responsibility for Bush-era torture policies.

John "Americans Are Stupid" Gruber gets grilled by Rep. Trey Gowdy. Cringe-worthy.

The GOP learned nothing from the mid-term election. Nothing.

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Three More Paintings

 Les Fleurs de Mort (18 x 24 canvas board)

 My Way is Hidden (18 x 24 canvas board) RECYCLED

 Les Fleurs (16 x 20 canvas board)

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09 December 2014

On the Proper Use of Ample Friar-Bellies

Baby Leo says, "Ample friar-bellies are good for bouncing on!"



Pic: John Yike (Seminarian)
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08 December 2014

Ineffabilis Deus: on the Immaculate Conception

From 2012:

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Dominic Church, NOLA

I have heard the dogma of the Blessed Mother’s immaculate conception called everything from “unnecessary political propaganda” to “Mary’s crowning as the fourth Person of the Blessed Trinity.” Our Marian dogmas tend to get folks a little overexcited: Mary is a Catholic goddess. Catholics believe that Mary is equal to Christ as our Redeemer. Since Mary is the Mother of God, it is actually her flesh and blood we consume at the Mass. No doubt some of these errors are the products of overeager amateur theologians. Some are intentional misrepresentations made for scoring points against the Church. Others are half-heard, misheard, or re-heard rumors and poorly memorized fifth grade catechesis! So, let's set the record straight on the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

We are here this evening to celebrate one of those oft-misheard, misunderstood Marian dogmas: the Immaculate Conception. On this day in 1854, Pope Pius IX issued an encyclical titled, Ineffabilis Deus (“Ineffable God”). In this letter our Holy Father writes: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” Let’s look at what this statement says and then look at what it means. Here’s what we need to notice:

1). The phrase “we declare, pronounce, and define that…” establishes Ineffabilis Deus as an infallible papal pronouncement. Not the first nor the last. Please note that papal infallibility wasn’t officially defined (i.e. “limited”) until 1870 at the First Vatican Council some sixteen years later.

2). The Holy Father is pronouncing infallibly on an existing doctrine. In other words, Pope Pius IX did not “invent” the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Our modern solemnity developed rather circuitously over the centuries from the second century oriental feast of The Conception of St John the Baptist. This feast and the feast of The Conception of St. Anne, Mary’s mother, carried the tradition in the East until we find in the eleventh century liturgical books the Feast of the Conception of Virgin Mary. The first Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated by Pope Sixtus IV in 1476.

 3). Mary’s immaculate conception in her mother’s womb was achieved “by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God…” This was a unique gift to Mary, an individual dispensation made especially for her.

4). Mary’s preservation from O.S. was made possible by “the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race…” Mary did not save herself nor preserve herself from original sin. Like the rest of humanity, our Mother, very much a human woman, was “saved” by Christ.

5). Pius IX defines “immaculate” as “preserved free from all stain of original sin…” In other words, Mary was spared the effects of the Fall and was thus perfect in her humanity while living among us, remaining sinless her entire life, leading to her bodily assumption into heaven.

6). As already noted, the doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception has always been believed by the Church. Pius IX’s 1854 declaration simply elevates the doctrine to the rank of dogma, teaching us that Mary’s sinless state at the instant of her conception “is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” Believing firmly and constantly in the truth of the Immaculate Conception is not optional for Roman Catholics; it is definitive of the faith, i.e. de fide.

That’s what the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches. What does it mean? Think about what Mary the virgin girl was asked to do by the angel Gabriel. She was asked to assent to conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to the Word of God, His only Son. Gabriel greets Mary with, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you!” Mary is scared nearly speechless by this and “ponders what sort of greeting this might be.” Gabriel, seeing her distress, says, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Mary assents to the angel’s request to be the Mother of the Word among us, saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Not only does the I.C. explain how the Son of God becomes the Son of Man w/o the stain of Original Sin, the dogma also foreshadows for us the conception of the Church.

Follow me here:

Mary gives the Christ his flesh and bone. The Church is the Body of Christ on earth, making Mary our Mother.

Mary gives birth to the Word made flesh. The Church in the flesh –that's all of us—preaches and teaches the Word to the world.

Mary, the deathless Mother of the Church, is raised bodily to heaven. The Church, our deathless Mother, will be raised bodily on the Last Day.

As members of the Body of Christ, we are given the dogma of the I.C. as more than a theological explanation, as more than an infallible definition of Catholic truth. The I.C. is for us a way of knowing our Father and the strength of His fidelity to His promises. Paul teaches us that God chose the Church, as he chose Mary “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” Immaculate. Like Mary, “we were also chosen…so that we might exist for the praise of His glory…” Mary is the exemplary church, the ideal body of believers assenting to the will of God; conceiving, carrying, giving birth to the Word daily, hourly before the world, for the world. And for this purpose, Mary and the Church were themselves conceived, carried, and birthed without the stain, the burden of sin. This solemnity is a singular grace, a gifted moment where we glimpse not in passing but in perpetuity the overwhelming power of our Father to accomplish through Christ the promises He made to our ancestors long ago: a virgin will conceive a son and he will be called “Emmanuel,” God-with-us, Jesus the Christ! 
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07 December 2014

(Place Holder for Homily Audio) UPDATED

UPDATE: Got to the pulpit, turned on the recorder, it flashed "Batt Low" once and then died. It was fine this morning.

I'll be preaching w/o a text at OLR this evening. I'm too distracted/busy/exhausted to write with any kind of enthusiasm or authenticity.

Faculty evals to write; seminarian evals to write; three sets of homilies to grade; a CCC final exam to grade; final grades to calculate, 24 paintings to pack and ship, etc., ad. nau.

I could recycle an old homily, but that's a lazy dodge. . .one I've used too often lately.

I've put my recorder in my habit breast pocket so that it's not forgotten.

Watch this post for a link to the audio.
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Two More Just Finished

Finished these two this morning. . .

 Exodus (18 x 24 canvas board)


 The Flood (16 x20 canvas board)

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3 New Paintings and 2 Re-runs

Here are three new paintings and two re-runs. These were taken with the Surprise Package I rec'd last week from a Secret Santa. 


 Moses in the Bullrushes (16 x 20 canvas board)


 Go to the Lost (16 x 20 canvas board)


 He is Gracious (18 x 24 canvas board)


Twelve Tribes (16 x 20 canvas board) RECYCLED


 Tongues of Fire (16 x 20 canvas board)


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Coffee Cup Browsing

The UVA gang-rape hoax and the goals of "Narrative Journalism."  This is how our universities are teaching your kids to think.

UVA Prez collectively punished all fraternities based on nothing more than the ideological fantasies of a Lefty with a By-line. 

3 Things about Senator Mary from Louisiana. . .actually, there should be 4 things: she'll be job-hunting Monday morning.

Yup, Mary's out of a job. She'll get a plush lobbyist job, so don't worry about her. My parish (county) Orleans voted for her 85%.

Crucifix stolen during Mass. . .

D.C. repeals religious schools' exemption from sexual orientation law. . .

Document on the visitation of American religious women to be released on Dec. 16th. It will be a white-wash, I'm sure. (NB. this is not the CDF investigation of the LCWR)
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04 December 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

Reactions and overreactions to the Ferguson Fracas based on class prejudice not racial prejudice

Sheriff is not a fan of Holder and his race-baiting gimmicks.

HHS: $186,129,786 to the Baptist Children and Family Services for four months of care for thousands of illegal aliens.

BO fundraiser and founder of the Human Rights Campaign, Terence Bean, is arrested for child-rape. Media: *crickets*  Of course, if he were "Fr. Terry" we'd never hear the end of it.

Tactics of the Devil: an on-going series of posts on how the Devil wars against God and the human soul.

One way to fight the Devil's tactics: Dominican nuns of Summit, NJ!

Political biases of major professions. . .no shocker here: MSM overwhelming leftist.  It's not even close.

What I would say about marriage if I were a bishop. . .

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03 December 2014

What a Sorry Excuse for a Blogger I Am

Mea culpa! 

I've not been a dutiful blogger lately. 

Teaching four classes, advising 22 seminarians, the painting hobby, etc. have kept me away from the keyboard.

Next week will be better! But then I head off to visit the Squirrels Dec 18th. 

A Kind & Generous Soul sent me a surprise gift -- a good digital camera! So, pics of the newer smearings will actually look like the smearings and not CCTV footage of a hit and run.

As always I am deeply grateful to my benefactors. Particularly: Michelle R., Michelle M., Dale N., Andrew G., Christine L., and all of those who have sent books, paint, canvases, and a camera (!) my way.

God bless, Fr. Philip Neri, OP
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30 November 2014

Five New Paintings

 Fomes Peccati (16 x 20 canvas board) INCOMPLETE


 Hidden (18 x 24 canvas board)
RECYCLED


 Tongues of Fire (16 x 20 canvas board)


 Do Not Let Us Wander (16 x 20 canvas board)


 Moses in the Bullrushes (16 x 20 canvas board)


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Know where you stand

1st Sunday of Advent
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

We begin with a lament: “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we [do not] fear you?” So, it's God's fault that we wander from His ways and do not fear Him? God hardens our hearts against Him? Isaiah's lament leaves us to wonder whether or not God truly wants us to follow His Word, to be awed by His glory. The prophet wails to God: “. . .we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.” And our sins, our polluted deeds, our guilt, all of it is God's doing? How? Why? No one calls on your name. No one clings to your Word. No one seeks out your face, Lord; so, Isaiah says, “. . .you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt.” Sin separates us from God. We cannot call upon His name nor hear His Word nor seek out His face in sin. In other words, while we dwell in sin – willful disobedience – it is as if God has abandoned us. Jesus tells his disciples (and us): “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” The time for what? The time of his return and our judgment. We wait for The End.

The End comes for us when Christ comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. We celebrate his first arrival – his birth – at Christmas. So, the Advent season pulls double-duty: 1) a time of expectation before the birth of the Christ-Child at Christmas, and 2) a dry run for his second coming in glory. Advent is set aside in the Church year for waiting. Waiting with anticipation. Not just hangin' around, twiddlin' our thumbs but real, conscious, active waiting. I'll confess right now that I do not Wait Well. Watch me drive btw the seminary on S. Carrollton and the priory on Harrison any afternoon. I start wishing for roof-mounted rocket launchers on my car. Or watch me at 4am while I stand dazed, confused, and frustrated in front of the priory's slowly dribbling coffee maker. Nothing sets off my impatience like inattentive drivers or slow-working machines. Or meandering customers at Winn-Dixie. Or pointless meetings. No, I definitely do not wait well. Do you? And I don't just mean “are you impatient generally?” I mean, when it comes to being attentive to your spiritual life, your intimate relationship with God, do you wait upon Him eagerly, joyfully, without expectation? Advent is our chance to examine ourselves thoroughly and find out. 
 
In this sense, Advent has a penitential edge to it. We might think that Advent is a season of joy, a pre-season of cheeriness gearing up for the Real Cheer of Christmas. But on this First Sunday of Advent, we began with a sobering reminder of exactly what Advent is. We heard Isaiah's confession: God's people are sinful, unclean; even our good deeds are like polluted rags; and our guilt carries us away like a wind! Then Jesus tells us to be watchful and alert for his coming in judgment. “Watch, therefore;” he warns, “you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.” Advent is a time of expectancy, anticipating the Lord's nativity, but it is also a time of examination, penance, conversion, and growing in holiness. And it is a season for us to live out Isaiah’s confession: “O Lord, we are the clay and you the potter; we are all the work of your hands.” If Advent is going to be a season of good spiritual fruit, if we are turn away from disobedience and receive God's mercy, then we must bring fresh to our hearts and minds the wisdom of Isaiah’s confession: we are made from the stuff of the Earth, breathed into life by the divine breath, shaped, and given purpose by a God Who looks upon us as works of art, creations to be loved and saved and brought back to Him unblemished and whole. 
 
Earlier I suggested that Isaiah seems to blame God for our sinfulness. This is a lament. Isaiah is mourning; he's grieving the apparent loss of God's favor in His people. But God did not turn away from His people. His people turned away from Him and then experienced their turning away as being abandoned by God. Believing themselves abandoned, they reveled in disobedience, fooling themselves into thinking that their words and deeds would go unjudged by the Just Judge. Isaiah's lament is a plea to God's people to turn around and face the Lord once more. . .before they condemn themselves to live forever with the consequences of their sin. Jesus' admonition to us – be watchful, be alert – is more than a warning to be on guard for his coming again; it's a plea to be ready, to be prepared to live forever in whatever state he finds us in when he comes. If you wait well, if you wait with a holy anticipation, having examined yourself thoroughly and turned away from sin, receiving His mercy, he will find you well-prepared, ready to go with him back to the Father. Like an individual piece of fine art – handcrafted and preserved – he will find you beautiful, ready for heaven.

No fewer than four times in our readings this evening, the Lord tells us that he is returning. He is coming back. Just as our fall from Eden preceded his coming to redeem us then, so our sinfulness now precedes his second coming to judge us. How we understand the coming judgment makes all the difference in how we prepare for it. If you see the Christ's second coming as a frightful event, a terrifying spectacle of hell-fire and tortured souls, then your preparation will be panicked and loaded with dread. However, if you see his coming again as the mystical arrival of universal salvation for all, then your preparation will likely be non-existent. Why bother to prepare for a judgment where no judgment actually takes place? What will the second coming and final judgment look like? No one knows exactly. The one who died for us will pass judgment upon us. Most likely, my final judgment before Christ and yours will look a lot like how we have lived our lives in his name: how we have ministered to the least of his; how we have shared his Good News of God's mercy; how we have and have not forgiven those who sinned against us. In other words, our judgment will reflect how we have and have not received the gift of Christ's death on our behalf. 
 
We won't know what the second coming of Christ and the final judgment looks like until it happens. So, be watchful, be alert! We don't know when the master of the house will return. But we do know that he will return. Will he find you waiting in holiness? Will he find you reveling in disobedience b/c you believe that He's abandoned you? Make these weeks of Advent your time to thoroughly examine where you stand with Christ. And if you need to, turn back to Him, receive His mercy through confession and get to work being Christ for others. Know where you stand. Because when he comes again in glory that's where you likely remain. . .forever.

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26 November 2014

Testimony I & II

 Two I finished last night. . .

 Testimony I (16 x 20 canvas board)


Testimony II (16 x 20 canvas board)

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25 November 2014

All My Abstracts! (UPDATED)



Light of the Nations SOLD

 Wondrous Deeds (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

   
 Awash (16 x 20 framed canvas) SOLD

 Brought to Life (16 x 20 canvas board)

 
Comtemplata (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

Dark Night of the Soul  (16 x 20 canvas board) SOLD

  Shrouded (16 x 20 framed canvas)

  Monet Goes to the Beach (16 x 20 canvas board) RECYCLED

 Temple -- Rought Draft (16 x 20 framed canvas)

 Worthy Are You (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 All in All (16 x 20 framed canvas)
SOLD

 Ancient Doors (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

 Inferno (16 x 20 framed canvas)
 SOLD

 Les Fleurs du Mal (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Rock Rolled Away (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD
 
 Stand Up and Go (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

 5000 (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD


 Four Living Creatures (18 x 24 canvas board)
SOLD

 Psalm 24 (18 x 24 canvas board)
RECYCLED

 Perfecting Grace (16 x 20 canvas board)
 SOLD


 Emmaus Road (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Psalm 23 (18 x 24 canvas board)
SOLD

 Leaving Eden Again (16 x 20 canvas board)
RECYCLED

 Discipleship (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Pentecost (16 x 20 framed canvas)
SOLD

 Feast (16 x 20 framed canvas)

 My Hour (16 x 20 canvas board)
RECYCLED

Eccles 1 (16 x 20 canvas board) RECYCLED

 Votive II (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD
 Votive I (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

Pillar of Cloud (16 x 20 canvas board)
RECYCLED

 Jericho (16 x 20 canvas board)
SOLD

 Noah's Covenant (18 x 24 canvas board)
 SOLD

Temple Falls (16 x 20 canvas board) RECYCLED

Canvas board: medium weight cotton canvas glued on hard cardboard.

Framed canvas: medium weight cotton canvas stretched over a wooden frame.


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