Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The sermon of Raymond Diocrès

Eustache Le Sueur (1616 - 1655)
Saint Bruno attends the sermon of Raymond Diocrès 
Saint Bruno assiste au sermon de Raymond Diocrès 
1645 - 1648 
Oil on canvas
1,93 m x 1,30 m. 
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Le Sueur painted 22 scenes for a cycle on the Life of St Bruno for the small cloister of the Carthusian convent in Paris which eventually ended up in the Royal collection

Raymond Diocrès was Bruno`s theological tutor at the Sorbonne, where Diocrès had been renowned for his supposed virtue

Here we see Bruno in rapt attention listening to the great man expound on some theme: but Diocrès is on the margins of the painting and he is not what the painting is really about 

The sermon is just a setting

A number in the audience do not appear to find the sermon  quite as interesting but a number are listening carefully

The painting is a good  example of absorption: that character of 17th and 18th century French art criticism which praised the attention which characters in a paintiing had  to what other characters in the painting were doing

It went to realism of the scene

Attention involves consciousness and therefore heightens the realism of the characters and therefore to the theatrical drama of the scene

By portraying Bruno as the one with the greatest attentiveness, Le Sueur heightens our attention on Bruno who is of course "the hero" of the cycle, the one who eventually succeeds and triumphs beyond all expectation

Diocrès is shadowy and wispy: his words do not matter. Later scenes in the cycle explain why

It was only on his death that Diocrès was exposed as a hypocrite and charlatan doomed to damnation

The exposure led Bruno and other pupils to take orders

 Diocrès's true nature was revealed during his funeral, when he is said to have risen from his bier three times, proclaiming, in front of Bruno and his other pupils, 'By the justice of God, I am condemned'.

It was probably his best sermon of his life by far: short, sharp, honest and true 

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis touched on the the importance of preaching and the homily

In his usual pithy and forthright way he remarked at the start of his discussion:
"The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people.  
We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case.  
The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth. ... 
[I]t is God who seeks to reach out to others through the preacher, and that he displays his power through human words. Saint Paul speaks forcefully about the need to preach, since the Lord desires to reach other people by means of our word (cf. Rom 10:14-17)."