Saturday, June 13, 2015

Last Supper Icon

Apparently, people read too much into icons and do not seem to see the message in it.  After examining the white robes of Jesus Christ, they now want to examine the background.  According to one of the commenters under my last entry post: 

No, Diana, the background in the ebay icon you just mentioned is definitely composed of buildings, and Eastern icons commonly use them to signify Jerusalem. The background of the Kiko's icon that White discusses is the mountains/wilderness and not "wooden posts". Look closely. They are very common in icons portraying Jesus's baptism in the Jordan. Click here to see.

You need to study more authentic icons of the Russian and Greek tradition.
So, this commentor wants to know about the background of the Last Supper in Kiko's icon.  Perhaps, he/she is correct that the background is a jagged mountain or the wilderness.  Nevertheless, the photo below is a Coptic Orthodox icon of the Last Supper.  It is very clear from the background that Jesus and the Apostles were not in a room.  The background is surrounded by TREES.  So, does the Eastern Orthodox Church ever teach that Jesus and the Apostles had the Passover meal OUTSIDE in the wilderness????? No, of course not  This icon can be found here.  The caption on this icon states that it is a Coptic Orthodox icon of Jesus and His Apostles in the Last Supper.  It did not say "heavenly banquet."  Some people can debate that the icon below is the heavenly banquet because all the 11 Apostles shown in the icon have halos.  But it is NOT the heavenly banquet despite those halos. Why? Because John is seen leaning against Jesus, and Judas Iscariot is seen leaving in the background. There are many icons of the Last supper with many different backgrounds, and the junglefolks only judge Kiko's icon?????   

Coptic Orthodox of the Last Supper

Only the painter can tell why he painted the icon the way he did.  Some artists paint because he found it pleasing to his eye.  Others paint a historical setting, while others paint with a message or catechesis in it.  Many artists paint the Last Supper in a different way.  Each one is different simply because the artists are different. 

The person who interprets the icon, however, is also a different matter.  Dan Brown, the author of Da Vinci Code, is anti-Catholic who insisted that the person lying on Jesus' chest was Mary Magdalene.  Nevermind the fact that for thousands of years, Christians have always believed that it was the Apostle John who reclined on Jesus' chest.  Chuck White, the author of Thoughful Catholic, is anti-Neo who insisted that Kiko taught that Judas Iscariot is saved.  Nevermind the fact that Chuck White could never quote Kiko on it.   


  1. "Only the painter can tell why he painted the icon the way he did"

    Then how is it you can speak on his behalf? How is it you can say with any authority that this is not the "heavenly banquet" given that Jesus is shown as risen?

    And where is the precedent ion iconography of Jesus being depicted in this way at the Last Supper? And why (seriously) is there only eleven apostles if Judas is certainly present?

    1. Dear Anonymous at 5:36 pm,

      I do not speak on behalf of Kiko Arguello. But I have studied art in the University of Guam. It is obvious that it is not the "heavenly banquet" because (as I said for the second time), John is leaning on Christ while Judas is leaving in the background. Also, the caption under the icon says that it is the Last Supper. And for the second time again, Judas is seen dipping his morsal into the bowl indicating that there is sin in his heart. Sin has an impact on everyone. In this case, the impact would be that there would be eleven Apostles.......otherwise one of the Apostles decided to get the wine from the kitchen. :-)

  2. Kiko Arguello is an artist. As every artist, he is also entitled to artistic freedom. He could paint the Last Supper with stigmata on the hands and breast of Jesus, in an Upper Room or in open air scenery. It all belongs to artistic freedom. He could have painted the Virgin Mary on the Last Supper scene if he wanted because she is
    1. the protector of our Church,
    2. Queen of Heaven,
    3. Co-Redemptrix, as Pope St John-Paul 2 proposed.
    This all would have been part of well founded artistic freedom of expression. When you look at the words of songs or the Eucharistic arrangement, it is also pure works of art. So why go against it by knives and machetes?

    Artistic message is not to be confused with authoritative message. Kiko is also a founder of the Way, so he has some authoritative teaching. It is like a wreath, where every piece of flower is picked from the given selection of church teachings. It is bound together with great artistry to form the “wreath of Kiko”, his particular set of authoritative church teachings. When we look at the wreath, we see the flowers of the Catholic Church! Nobody ever has caught Kiko on teaching anything apart from the church. He is presenting nothing else but the official catechism in his own setting. Whatever you read from him has its roots in the official Catholic teaching, all these tendencies had already existed in the church, especially after Vatican 2, as hidden or unhidden currents. Kiko is pointing out these underlying currents. He is not creating a new reality, he only creates new facts for an already existing reality!

    Here is, for example, a rendition of Psalm 8:

    "Oh Lord our God how great is your name,
    Throughout the earth, is your name;
    above the heavens rises your love!"

    We see a free mixture of the earthly and the spiritual here, expressing the artistic freedom of the composer. Love (or glory) rising above the heaven is a powerful imagery coming from the Ancient beliefs of God being high up above the highest mountains of earth. The same time it is completely useless to make this imagery an authoritative teaching of the church, because it is only a metaphor.

    Kiko supports his authoritative way, the "wreath of Kiko" which is entirely inside the scope of the official Catholic teaching, by his vivid artistry. His songs and paintings, or his architectural arrangements all emphasize something in our Catholic reality that we might not notice otherwise. We feel like we know the meaning of sin, faith and salvation. But this artistry shifts the meaning of these concepts apart from the plain and trivial toward the subtle and inspiring. Shift of meaning is a great tool of progress that we need to make to respond to the challenges of a modern world. All good theology does the same. We need our complacency to be shaken up and rearranged in order to open our eyes to our reality through the eyes of Jesus himself! This is true Christianity, pure and simple.

    1. OMG. Are you serious? The "wreath of Kiko"???

      This is going way too far.

    2. grow up in faithJune 19, 2015 at 4:48 PM

      How would the artistic freedom of the composer assure that the right "flowers" are picked for Kiko;s wreath of Christian teaching? Artistic freedom creates disorder, divergence and chaos while Christian teaching converges to pure order and spiritual clarity.

  3. On predestination and reality 1

    The plan of God is more subtle than that our intellectual capabilities allow us to fully grasp. No wonder it is called a mystery! The teaching of the Catholic Church on free will and predestination show a mutually complex relationship between the two in the same fashion as another difficult teaching on creation and evolution are. Still, both predestination and evolution, as a way to create the whole universe, are part of the official teaching of our church! Of course, we should emphasize that
    -- the teaching of the Catholic Church on predestination is much different from that of the Protestant, especially Calvinist, churches; also,
    -- the teaching on evolution is fundamentally different from that of the atheists.

    How could the Passion of Jesus Christ be part of God's plan? How could the betrayal by Judas be part of this plan? Would this not violate the free will of Judas Iscariot? Did he choose freely to betray Jesus or was his betrayal necessary?

    Well, see this example: Imagine a poor teenage girl, Cathy, becomes pregnant and she realizes she cannot support her baby after giving birth. So she makes a plan. She observes a private school for rich girls and one early morning she drops the baby girl in the empty class room in a small basket. Then she runs away. Well, the girls coming to school discover the baby in the basket. The teacher and principal decide to ask the parents if anyone would volunteer to adopt the baby girl. Someone in the class, Joanne, goes home and begs her parents: "Oh, please, adopt her! I want this baby to be my little sister." Everything goes well and the baby is adopted by the parents of Joanne.

    Now, look at the plan of Cathy. Did it work? Well, definitely. Was it necessary? Not sure. But the plan gave high assurance as Cathy chose a class of rich girls with good education and good hearts. It would have been very hard to conceive that nobody would have wanted to take home the baby to make her a little sister. It was a very reasonable plan with a high probability of success. Was Joanne predestined to be the one who takes home the baby? Not sure. She definitely made her own choice by her own will and desire when she begged to her parents for adoption of the baby. Her free will was not violated. The same time there could have been some reality in her past that made her a good candidate for this gracious act. Perhaps she was an only child. Perhaps she always wanted to have a baby sister. Perhaps, her parents wanted more kids, but could not succeed. So there were indications that Joanne would be the one to save the baby girl. To sum it up, Cathy had a good plan. Joanne made a choice by her own free will, based on her reality. The baby girl found a new, safe family to grow up in. Something along the lines of baby Moses who was laid into a basket and set into the river, so that the daughter of Pharaoh could find and save him.

  4. On predestination and reality 2

    What would this story tell about predestination? Well, God obviously had a good plan to save the world through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ! Jesus went to a hostile city, Jerusalem, to teach the ways of God. It was of high probability that He would be persecuted. He taught "the Law is for man and not man is for the Law" and this teaching itself had an assurance that people turn against him violently. Then, it came to the point of the Twelve. It became increasingly probable that someone would come out of the Twelve to do the gruesome act of betrayal. Was it necessary that it would be Judas? Not sure. Judas made the choice by his own will. But there could have been something in his past that prepared him for this role. His reality was that he was a zealot. He wanted to provoke uprising against the Romans. He wanted a Messiah who is a king and earthly ruler. Did Judas understand correctly the message of Jesus? Was he humble enough to give up his own? Not sure. But his predestination was in his inclination to his own reality of the past. He acted by his own will to follow this reality.

    To sum it up, it is highly probable that someone turns against you, if you follow Christ. Is a Judas necessary? Not sure. God's and Jesus' plans are mysterious. Jesus is God. You trust Jesus, because you trust God. If Judas is coming to kill you, in spiritual sense or other, let future tell you about this. Predestination is never revealed before the event, only afterward. When we look at the future, we see that the freedom of our choices would shape that future. When we look at the past, we see that our choices were predestined in some way by our reality, at least in retrospect. Two distinct points on the real time line are never the same!

  5. Was the comment really a surprise Diana? There are people who look at superficial presentations rather than substance.

    1. Just wanted to add a few thoughts to my comment above.

      Going to Church in todays society on Guam is more for show. I need to go to Church because it will show my family; my friends that I am a good Catholic. Hhhmmm.....let my wear my nice clothes; let everyone see how nice my family is dressed; let everyone see my nice car.

      Then we have another group who go to Church to make deals with God. I go to Church God this Sunday; now this is what I want you God to do for me.

      Vatican City, Jun 11, 2015 / 05:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said.

      The article above is in response of how people want to bend the sacraments to fit their lives. We want the Church to bend to our wills.

      We go to Church for all the wrong reasons.

      Then we have people who struggle with giving money to the Church. To these people I will say...keep your money. God is God who made the universe. Do you really think he needs your money?

    2. Thanks for judging us, Anon at 11.27. It must be nice to be the mighty one who knows the hearts of men.

    3. if the shoe fits...wear is what it is my comfortable Catholic brother.

  6. Hi Diana,
    Is there any book that discusses Kiko Arguello's artwork and artistic influences? I would be interested in reading about his formation as an artist.
    Eleanor Aguon