Waiting for Mass to start this morning, I closed my eyes and prayed. I said to God (I don’t recall my exact words now, so I paraphrase somewhat):
“Lord, all that is good about me is my soul, because you created it, but it’s like a tiny spark that needs Your breath to gently blow on it so it can gradually grow bigger and stronger. Thank you for saving my soul, for rescuing it from being extinguished in the black embers of sin. I am nothing, Lord, just a weak, trembling mess of emotions and feelings and thoughts flickering to and fro; fluctuating in the slightest breeze. My only steadiness and bracing warmth comes from gazing upon You with love and longing. I need the breath of your Spirit, Lord, to keep gently blowing on me as I aspire to grow into a blazing fire of love for You. All I desire from what remains of my life is to become a strong, radiant soul burning with a powerful love for God so that, when I die, I will not be extinguished, but blaze joyfully, without a trace of fear’s cold darkness, straight into the heaven of Your Presence. Amen.”
The Mass began, and in my mind’s eye I saw a tiny flame held safe and protected in the gently cupped hands of my Savior. I saw His beautiful profile gazing down on my soul as He gently breathed on it. That’s what I am – a spark of Divine love my Beloved rescued from sin’s smoldering black campfire before it was extinguished. For as long as I have left to live in this world, I feel I will always hold in my mind this image of God as the Person of Jesus gently filling me with the Holy Spirit.
My mother, Juana Rosa Pita, just returned from (yet another!) trip to Italy. She went to Pisa, a city beloved to her, and then Naples, where she visited the Museo Capella Sansevero. She described to me how she slowly circled this magnificent sculpture – carved in marble from a single block of stone – located in the Sansevero Chapel, drawing ever closer to it through the crowds of tourists. She was so impressed, in the most profound sense, with this work of art by Giuseppe Sanmartino that, after she spent some time in its presence, she turned, and walked out of the building. It wasn’t until hours later that it occurred to her she had not seen anything else in the museum! The experience of the veiled Christ, “Covered from head to toe in a fine veil made of marble, a transparent veil clinging to all parts of His body carved of marble,” she told me this morning, the awe in her voice clearly distinguishable over the phone, was so intense, she completely forgot to visit the rest of the museum, as if, by comparison, there could be nothing else worth seeing there. Photos are a poor substitute, but for anyone who loves Christ, and may never visit Naples, they are better than nothing.
I took this photograph of a scene from an episode of AD The Bible Continues in which Christ first appears to his Apostles after the Resurrection. I was so struck by the sublime contrast of light and shadow – which so beautifully blended our Lord’s divine and human nature – that I just had to try and capture it in a picture I could gaze upon for as long as I wanted to. The result is this portrait of Jesus:
“I had so little ability for picturing things in my mind that if I did not actually see a thing I could not use my imagination, as other people do… Of Christ as Man I could only think: however much I read about His beauty and however often I looked at pictures of Him, I could never form any picture of Him myself. I was like a person who is blind, or in the dark: he may be talking to someone, and know that he is with him, because he is quite sure he is there – I mean, he understands and believes he is there – but he cannot see him. Thus it was with me when I thought of our Lord. It was for this reason that I was so fond of pictures. Unhappy are those who through their own fault lose this blessing! It really looks as if they do not love the Lord, for if they loved Him they would delight in looking at pictures of Him, just as they take pleasure in seeing pictures of anyone else whom they love.” – Saint Theresa of Avila