Loading
September 02, 2013
Our many hues of blue
By Jason Godin *

By Jason Godin *

Colors both captivate our ordinary senses and, at the same time, capture extraordinary meanings. Consider blue. It can describe how low we might feel. But it can also depict, as a symbol, higher callings proposed by faith to humanity.

Science defines blue as the color between green and violet in the optical electromagnetic spectrum, with a wavelength between 450 and 495 nanometers. But hearts, minds, and other human senses attach values to blue beyond the visible rainbow. We try to comfort people that we say are suffering from “the blues.” We also react when skin turns blue, with icy aid when bruised or with more urgent alarm when too cold to the touch due to lack of oxygen. Even recent analyses of voting trends – designating individual states that tend to vote for the Democratic Party as “blue states” – employ the color to help us greater understand the world.

Definitions and perceptions, like a lot in life when we take time to pause and ponder, find earlier expressions in the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. Meanings for blue prove no different. Beginning in the 12th century, European architects and artists incorporated ultramarine, a bluish pigment imported from Asia, into their works. People can still see its splendors shining through the stain glass of countless European cathedrals. Artists such as Fra Angelico, Giovanni Bellini, and Raphael, to name just a few, also employed blue in their paintings to depict the clothing worn by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their masterpieces used blue in her robes to distinguish holiness, humility, and virtue. Consequently, the color blue has surfaced over the centuries as one symbolic of Mary and her qualities that the faithful seek to practice in service to Christ and his Church.                  

Interestingly, it seems that even our basic tool for illustrating relationships between colors – the color wheel – confirms how faith, science, and art intersect seamlessly. Children learn at very early ages that mixing the three primary colors – blue, along with red and yellow – makes new colors. Blue combined with red produces purple. The eyes of faith that glimpse towards the altar during the seasons of Advent and Lent find purple lifting their thoughts to the idea of God’s royalty. Blue blended with yellow makes green – the color of the great outdoors reminding us of new life. The season of Ordinary Time testifies with green linens and vestments to the vitality of life found in faith. In such a diversity of seen and unseen ways, one might say that the red blood of the sacrificed Savior, the yellow radiance of the risen Son, and the blue Marian mantle combine to shine forth the light of the saving Word into the world.

As you celebrate Labor Day, open your eyes toward others who see blue as no more than the word which describes for them hopeless sadness and lifelessness. Show them blue instead as living informed by a hopeful, happy, and full faith. Introduce them to the beautiful array of architectural and artistic masterpieces that use blue. By doing so, and in a very personal way, you may very well bring them closer to the Master and Maker of our many hues of blue.

Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.

« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: