I painted the Blessed Mother so many times, so many versions over the last 11 years as it was my prayer. It was during that time that my love for her grew and I realized that she was really the only mother I really needed. She taught me so much. She was my muse, my inspiration.
But that dance was done, and so was my painting. I felt distance and I felt my prayer life had stopped and I so wanted to continue to create another painterly prayer.
For over a year, I would try different approaches trying to immerse myself into my painting. I felt defeated so I abandoned prayer.
Or so I thought-until I heard that my intent to pray was a prayer in itself. I thought it too weak and too simple a prayer for My Glorious God, but in fact I had to become a child again, not so full of myself, willing to be open to learn a new prayer. And I have.
So I will settle in this prayer, this dance, until he brings me to a childlike place again. And I’ll know that he’s asking me to just let go and allow Him to lead. (I’m like a little kid again and every morning is like Christmas and I can’t wait to open the painting prayer He has for me.)
I received an invitation. Apparently it is an open invitation. It read:
“Come and break bread with me. Let’s talk. I will tell you my story and you can tell me yours. I want to share with you, to give you all that I am.”
I was excited.
He was there waiting for me as I entered His home. He greeted me with arms outstretched. He was beautiful yet I knew He had fought for life.
As I looked around I couldn’t help but notice that there were enough seats to feed an army, yet the setting was so intimate, as if it would be just Him and me for dinner.
There were candles, flowers, pictures, and statues everywhere. I wondered who the pictures were of, what their stories were, and still are? From where had the flowers come? And the stained glass windows were so grand as they called me into their facets.
The statues and images, He told me, were of those He loved who had passed away. He told me their stories, of the love they had for Him and how they had fought and died telling His story and love for all.
An art piece of His beautiful mother, Mary, was placed in a position of his house as if she was looking lovingly upon those who came to visit Her son with pride and seemed to be giving a special blessing.
She was beautiful and sad at the same time, as if her struggle was having to watch what her Son had to go through, but she knew He did it for love.
I was struck by the fragrance of incense in His home while candles created the perfect ambience for the dinner He had invited me to participate.
He told me the candles are to light the way to Him, and the red candle was to remind us He was truly present. The incense was our prayers that He was sending up to His father.
An artist had rendered images of His struggle that were placed around His living area. Fourteen in all. Most of them were hard to look at, because they were so violent of a war waged on one Man.
The stained glass windows, He said, were for those who could not read, so that they too could know His story. But He said the real secret was that the beauty of them was His hope to call them into His house so that they too could get know Him - from the outside shine.
Oh and the table, that He set for me to dine, was the most beautiful. I think I could actually see His loved ones at one point during the meal. Diego, Bernadette, Maria, Andrew, Bibiana, Thomas, Daphne, Agnes, Terese, Anne, John, Theresa, Martha, Mary, Joseph, Moses, Elias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Matthew, Mark, Magdalene, Rachel, Elizabeth…there were so many. He also had soldiers that were lovingly guarding Him.
The way He looked at me as He placed the bread in my hand, and the wine…I was in heaven. I didn’t want to leave. The love He had for me was intense. I didn’t want it to end. And it didn’t because I carried it out with me to share His message with you.
He is love, and those images and statues and stained glass windows, flowers, candles, are but reminders of what He gave for us.
They are no different than the images of the loved ones who have gone before you that you talk to, pray for, are saddened by and that have reminded you of the happy moments you shared in their lives.
Let’s respect His house. Let’s respect each other’s homes.
One of the positive things Covid 19 has done for me, is that I now spend more time outdoors. And the most enjoyable time is sitting, in the shade, under the magnolia tree, with my father-in-law.
The conversation inevitably encompasses the lawn, the magnolia leaves, the stock market, the weather, the kids, and COVID19!!!
It got to where Covid19 would rule the majority of the conversation and would leave us either scratching our head, or pulling out our hair. Either way, I'm reminded of an email from Scott Hahn, in which he stated, "He goes before us always, making sure that every tragedy can somehow become a way back to Him."
We now end our conversation with each of us contributing two positive things that has happened in our day. And to me the most important thing Covid19 has done, is brought us to have conversations, knowing that prayer, and our faith is THE only thing that will get us through this. But there is a selflessness that has to happen.
We must think of others through this all. We can all agree that wearing face masks is the most uncomfortable, claustrophobic practice, but we do it out of love for others.
We might also agree that our hands now require more lotion, for the amount of "praying through" our washing that occurs.
And we refrain from the habit of holding our loved one, to protect them; but we relish in the moments when we are able to hold them because we have taken the measures to ensure their safety, by being masked and washing our hands, and keeping social distancing a habit.
I see this tragedy, as a grace and He is surely drawing this person closer to Him. #scotthahn #hopetodie
WHERE TRAGEDY BECOMES GRACE IN PRAYER.
Scott Hahn says, “Repentance thus involves a change of thinking and living. We no longer view suffering as intrinsically evil; by seeing it as a part of a God’s plan to teach us love, we can embrace sin as a needed remedy of sin.”
I love this and I try so hard to practice this daily with the little sufferings as well as the big sufferings.
The graces I have received knowing that is when I am wallowing in my sufferings and once I recognize it, I shift my suffering into prayer, offering it up especially for the poor souls in purgatory and also for those who have no one to pray for them.
I’ve strayed from praying the rosary daily, but faithfully I hold her hand every night as I keep her with me, under my pillow. When I wake, at “the grace-filled hour of 3am”, I pray the rosary. I allow her to choose who needs my prayer most. She is my saving grace, my greatest spiritual mentor.
However, I do try to “paint” with my words. Bishop Barron, in his “Catholicism” series, explains a painting by Seurat’s, “Grande Jatte and Circus”, that if you place your nose against the image you would see color, but no shape or form. You must step back to be able to take in the whole image.
That’s how life is. If we are too close we cannot see the whole picture in order to assess the situation and know how to move forward. Because I know my goal is to move forward, closer to God.
While I paint, and during all stages of my work, I place my work in progress on an easel, walk away, close my eyes, and return my gaze to the image.
By doing this step, I’m able to see if the image is progressing, if it’s in balance, if the colors are complimenting one another, and what my next step will be.
I don’t wait until, I’m almost done, I do it constantly throughout the progress of the painting. I get frustrated, impatient, and angry because it’s not going the way I want it to. I get mad because it’s not “perfect” and then comes the stages of avoiding because I don’t know how to move forward; how to right the wrong; how to continue.
This is so much like life. I’ve tried to incorporate this method into my daily life. As I begin to tackle the day (the painting) I put my “yesterday” on an easel, I step back and close my eyes in prayer (to clear my mind of the previous image I had stored) and I assess what’s the next step I need to take to balance my life; to add color and to fix what needs to be fixed...all for the glory and honor of God-even my paintings. And I certainly don’t want to wait to do this process until the painting of my life is complete. I’d rather have worked hard to present the best image of myself to God.
I was confirmed when I was in third grade. I had just watched a movie about St. Bernadette, the young girl to whom Mary appeared. I fell in love with her, the story, and the beautiful lady, Mary. So I chose Bernadette as my patron saint.
Fast forward 50+ years and coming deeper into my faith I know it was divine intervention that Bernadette was chosen for me.
I never knew my love, trust, respect for Mary, until I read books on consecration to Jesus.
Mary was always there for me. She wraps her mantle around me and protects me from harm and presents me to her son.
And St. Bernadette was my intercesor who guided me and gave me what I need to “proclaim”...as I now “come to inform, not to convince,” through my sacred art, revealing my devotion.