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Jesus- Listen and Pray

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Jesus- Listen and Pray

Jesus, Listen and Pray
This is a very small image, 5”x7” - the first one I had the energy to paint after open heart surgery, in 2012. I had seen a card with Jesus in the lotus position praying and I knew I needed to go into it more, by painting/living with Him.
“The Jesuit Bernard Lonergan was one of the first theologians to recognize that God’s revelation is embedded in the personal narrative. The concrete stories of women and men carry within them the traces of the divine. As we come to know flesh-and-blood people in all their mystery, and all their ordinariness, we come to know more of the Creator and Redeemer and Sustaining Spirit. So it is with Monika Hellwig...As the Carmelite poet Jessica Powers noted, to live in the Spirit of God is to be a listener. Monika listened deeply and well.”
Dolores Leckey from the book “Monika Hellwig: The People’s Theologian”
I have not read all of Monika’s work but what I have has moved me to listen and pray. She has the inspired Art of writing about deep theological issues that are understandable and it seems to me, in a “clean” way, of having no agenda. I think the best Christian apologists have this grace. They assume your natural intelligence and don’t have to coerce you because their clarity is both scholarly and lovingly invitational. They trust the Holy Spirit. In these days of hourly rancor, that often explodes into some form of violence, such a person as Monika was/is a minor miracle. I’m hoping I will get the chance to paint her image too.
I’ve met many people, throughout my life who start off a conversation by putting you on the defensive. I’ve always wondered what do they have to hide ? Because this tactic actually kills any chance for a conversation. I don’t really know, maybe that’s the whole point ? Conversation assumes a vulnerability on both sides, a true listening and responding with a word or two that shows you’ve heard, an immediate rebuttal (and most of us are guilty of this) is another conversation killer. Oddly enough, I once read a very interesting take on this many years ago in ,maybe (?) chapter 5, of “The Celestine Prophecy.” I think it was about the reason people take swipes, verbal snipers. It might have answered that question, but it didn’t provide any lasting comfort.
The Gospels have several stories of Jesus going off to be alone and pray. And I was so taken with the image of Piero Pasolini’s Jesus, (The Gospel According To St Matthew) Enrique Irazoqui, that he became a living image for me from age 19, onward...of Jesus in a prayer. To talk with God, one has to be completely vulnerable and honest...
“Today, perhaps your soul can sense Jesus saying, Be unafraid to know yourself. Be fearless in your inward search. God’s care for you never wavers. No threat can silence God’s whispered call to you. No shadowy valley you walk through can extinguish the light that leads you to salvation. Hypocrites cannot damn you because God has deemed you precious. You count. So take courage. Come clean. Tell God, who never changes, everything you know about yourself, and more will be revealed. You will be counted among my disciples, one of my beloved friends.”
Rachel Srubas writing about St Teresa of Avila
Fr Bill McNichols 💮 October 2021