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Friday, August 26, 2011

Rembrandt's "The Prodigal Son/Father"

Facebook has been a wonderful tool for us, it has opened a door to learn from others, “the huge picture” of who Christ is to this big ole’ world. We have chosen wisely folks from all over the world that share this love of Christ… that we may share with them and in turn they can share with us. One such person we have become FB friends with lives in Malta and he is an artist. He posted something so interesting and thought provoking… I just had to share it. I asked him to post it on my wall, so I could share it with all my FB friends.  He was more than willing, but it would not post as a new post. He was able to post it in an area of one of my old post? I then tried to cut and paste it as a new post and it would not copy.. hmmmmm what is going on here? I guess his privacy settings have created this problem? I was so determined to post this….so I painstakingly hand wrote it…then typed it. Why? I am crazy for Sacred Art! Did you know that before there was television, radio and the printing press folks were entertained by artist and learned about things, “like” faith and God. This is what our Artist friend in Malta shared and we just thought it was so cool! Update 11/01/11: Tony has a blog now and you have to visit it: http://wordofgodalmighty.blogspot.com/2011/10/sacrifice-of-holy-eucharist.html

This is what he wrote this morning to us and sharing so you can understand  “why” we wanted to share w/you. “Very Good Morning in the Lord. I shall try and post it as you asked., but, remember J&J, everybody's Life Story IS interesting and there is a lot one can learn from each other. Re Sacred Art, whenever I have a commission or paint a subject for my one satisfaction (very rarely), I always pray and meditate before I start, and try to put all my knowledge of the Scripture in the painting. God bless us all.”

Little bit about this Artist that I copied from his profile:
Am a full-time artist/painter. Participated in numerous exhibitions, both locally and abroad. I produced, to date, over 800 works. These are found in Museums and Private Collections in U'K., Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, California, Italy, New York, Scotland and Spain, besides Malta.
I am interested in History of Art, appreciate Classical Music and Gregorian Chant.
I take great interest in the study of the Holy Scripture and study of Biblical Commentaries. I hold weekly talks on the Sunday Gospel, with special reference to the contemporary life of Jesus, the Jewish History and Culture so as to understand better the message found in the Bible, a lot of hard work and study.
His Post we loved: Rembrandt, is here reminding us of Prophet Isaiah's words: "Can a mother forget her child ? Even if she does, I will never forget him. His name is written on the palm of my hand."
Why have I chosen, as my Profile Photo, a reproduction of Rembrandt’s famous ‘Prodigal Son/Father Father’ A very straight forward answer because it is ‘The story of my life’, not to say “Everybody life.’ I believe that this is the best photo, snapshot, I could produce, of my being… hugged and welcomed with LOVE by my MUM and DAD. “Ah, those were the days”, some might answer. You are right to say so, with one slight correction, these are the days. I returned Home when ever I decide to, and with God’s help, and still be warmly hugged by Mum and Dad. Now let’s get one thing is this possible? I am, ‘Thank be to God,’ 76 years old, ‘so how on earth am I going to be welcomed and hugged by Mum and Dad? Certainly, because in God we find the Maternal and Paternal love. The repentant son represents each and every one of us, as long as we return to the Father’s house. We are always welcomed back, and what a welcome that would be. That is the message of this well known Parable, which many scholars believe, was Christ favorite.
We have, for sure, very often misbehaved and acted insensibly and, I dare say, without showing any sign of responsibility towards ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, and they, for sure deserve better, we are much indebted to them.
This message is found for the hidden a message. Just look at the pair of hands, and arms of the old man the father. They are different from each other. Look at them well. The left hand is surely a man’s hand, strong, virile, muscular,, note the shadows on the back of the son, he is using pressure, he is encouraging him, inspiring him with hope and the start of a new life, sort of. ‘Come on get up, don’t worry, we shall start anew, be brave.’ This is surely the father’s behavior.
Now look at the other hand, on the right. That is not a man’s hand, that, for sure is a woman’s hand ‘full of’  grace, genteel, refined, using little or no pressure, as if patting the face of her new born babe, scarcely touching him, and yet full of love and consolation. The fingers, unlike the man’s are close to each other. Yes, here you, and I, have found Mum and Dad, in God’s embracing love, that’s what I meant when I said in God we find the Maternal and Paternal love.
Rembrandt is here reminding us of Prophet Isaiah’s word, “can a mother forget her child? Even if she does, I will never forget him. His name is written on the palm of my hand.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ON THE HORSE AGAIN

I changed my profile picture this week on facebook because it reminded me of a “life lesson" I learned from a horse. In the photo I am with my entire family riding several hundred feet.. on a ledge that overlooks a raging river with huge rocks and miles from civilization. It was the first time in my life I had to totally trust a horse… no if’s and or but’s about it. Total trust! Being the control freak I am this was a most difficult task for me. Being a mother I was not only concerned for me.. but my whole family.. including my grown children.   This was not the only ledge we crossed…there were many and once we started on this journey, there was no place to turn around…We had to keep moving forward. After several ledges we finally came to  a beautiful place. A flat plot of land that was beside this river and it was so peaceful. We all got off our horses and had a time to sit, relax and listen to the sounds of the forest and the river. Awwww I was in my comfort zone… my feet were planted on soil that I knew “I had control” a safe spot. While in my safe spot I knew that a time was coming …. Very soon.. Within a few minute, I would have to trust that horse again, to get back home.. Actually I thought about walking back, but it was safer on the horse.. because the horse was doing all the work. For me to walk back meant I had to climb the mountain and rocky terrain with-out rock climbers gear. There was no person to throw a support rope if I did slip or fall. These horses knew this trail and walked it many a time. There was no other way to get back home…had to ride that same trail again. I had finally surrendered to my horse.. I trust you. I knew if I tried to control my horse at all.. I would plummet off the cliff and hurt myself badly or maybe die. I learned to not look down… but. Up and forward.. to trust and know the more I trusted my horse the more I could enjoy this wonderful ride I was on.  Is this not the same way life can be? We trust in our Lord when things are good and we have everything in control. Is this really trust? We are still in control and doing our own thing… but “we trust you Lord.”  I think sometimes in life God puts us on a ledge to teach us how to really trust Him. How can He build a trust in us… if we never leave our comfort zone? Proverbs 3:5-6;” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your path straight.” This week was a time of packing and letting go of a precious daughter who wants to serve her Lord in religious life. Her journey to discern the calling began yesterday as we dropped her off at Holy Angels in Jonesboro, AR.  I feel like I am on that horse again… but I know that God is teaching me “how to truly trust Him.” In closing… look-up…and forward HO! Lord I put my total trust in you so I can enjoy this ride.
The following is a note from my daughter before she left:

  To all my friends, family and Facebook friends I leave August 5th for Holy Angels in Jonesboro, Arkansas. What does this mean? It means; I am opening up my heart to the possibilities of becoming an Olivetan Benedictine Sister (Nun). Holy Angels was founded in 1874 when a group of Sisters left the Convent of Maria Rickenback in the Canton of Uterwalden, Switzerland. They left after much prayer in response to a request for Sisters to teach in the mission fields of America.
I have had this nagging thought about becoming a Nun that has continued since I became a Catholic, even during the process of becoming Catholic and has been going on for about 5 years.
My reason for pursuing a religious vocation is very confusing to me in all honesty. My heart says “yes” that it would be rewarding in many ways to give my time and talents to my Lord. I have been so blessed with each visit at Holy Angels and   during times of prayer I can hear His voice encouraging me to this way of life. But why me a late bloomer in this world in which I live? Can He really use me? I do not know what the future holds; I only know who holds my future. I do not understand the reason “why” most of the time. It is only when I hear His voice that it assures me that my pursuit toward a religious vocation is not in vain and I need to have an open heart. I look forward to this pursuit and know it will bring meaning and joy to my life. Whatever the outcome will be, I see this journey as a place where I can grow in Him. The reason I am seeking entrance to Holy Angels Convent in Jonesboro is because after three visits and praying about this, I feel led to enter.
 The discernment process in seeking out the religious life for me, started last fall. I visited three different places in this journey. The first place was Little Portion Hermitage in Eureka Springs, AR. I was there for two weeks and got to be a part of their community in a special way. I loved the beauty of Little Portion and came to love all its members. It is a very unique way of life and is very new to the Monastic lifestyle. Brothers, Sisters, and Families living the religious vocation together and living off the land.  One story I will share about my visit there was I had to wake up every morning at 5:00 am and feed the chickens. It was fun in many ways but I could not picture myself doing these kind of chores for the rest of my life. Lots of hard manual labor in what they do to raise food and money for their Order. I admire them all and was blessed in what I learned there. They are a special “family” working for the Lord in so many ways. I came away from Little Portion with a better understanding of what the religious life was all about. I could even picture myself doing it in so many ways, but I did not think this was the place the Lord would want me, if I did choose the religious life of a Sister.                                                                                                                                       The second place I visited was the Third Order of Saint Francis in Peoria, IL. I flew there by plane, leaving Little Rock, stopover in Chicago, then boarded a small plane for Peoria. Beautiful place and the Nuns were so nice and friendly. Stayed almost a week there and helped with a bazaar and toured the hospital where they worked. They do other things besides hospital work, but the hospital was their main ministry. I really enjoyed my visit there and could sense the Lord calling me into this way of life. I Left Peoria with a greater understanding of religious life and a great respect for all I met there. The journey there and the distance from my family gave me a glimpse of what it could be like if I chose to pursue it more. Knowing I would soon visit Jonesboro gave me a peace to wait and see. I could picture myself at Peoria in many ways and would have probably done a second visit had I not fallen in love with Holy Angels, all the Sisters and what they do.                                                             
 Does all this information I am sharing with you, mean I am becoming a Nun? I hope so, but I have a long way to go before I can answer that question.
Every time I return from Holy Angels I am on a spiritual high and I am so sure God is calling me to the religious life. As the weeks pass by, after each visit to Holy Angels, I start doubting myself at times and fear of the unknown starts to set in. I remind myself daily and have the support of my parents and my Parish Priest that my final decision will not be for several years. They all assure me that if “at any time you feel this is not for you the Lord will let you know. Take each day at a time and He will show you His plan for your life.”
I leave in August and will be there for 6 months, discerning this call on my life. I will be “dating” the idea of a religious life and will return home after 6 months for a 2 week vacation. If during this time I do not think I want to continue, it’s ok. If I still want to continue to discern the religious life, I will return back to Holy Angels and for another 18 months and I will still be “dating” the idea. When the 18 months is up, I return home for 2 weeks and I feel certain I will have an answer that is more concrete than I do today. If it is “yes” I want to continue to discern my calling, I will then take my temporary vows. I will then be “engaged” to the idea and with each day that passes I know Christ will confirm what I think I already know.  In the end, if I decide this is what I truly want to do, without any doubt, I will become a Sister for the rest of my days; He will give me the grace I need to take my final vows.   
I will get to witness two Sisters take their Final vows when I return In August. Sister Mary Beth and Sister Mary Clare will promise for the rest of their lives to serve God as an Olivetan Benedictine Sister. The Sisters have shared with me it is a beautiful service with many friends and family attending.
Please keep me in your prayers and be happy for me, because I am really excited about what I am doing.
I will still be able to check my email weekly, check Facebook weekly, can have phone calls, scheduled visits and hope we all stay connected.
website: http://www.olivben.org/