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The Nursing Icon of the Mother of God (Feastday, along with St Stephen , December 26)
After my Mother died in August 2006, as Advent approached I was still in grief inside and couldn’t feel the usual intensity of the beautiful four weeks before Christmas. I never realized how much (for me) the Mother is Christmas, in that she teaches the whole story to her children and creates the atmosphere inside the house that really begins your understanding of the entire season. This includes the Nativity set (which also contained figures from her childhood) the tree, the lights, the decorations, the candles, the Advent wreath, food, music, and magical presence around the house. So that Advent of 2006 I painted the Nursing Icon as a living memory of Mom. There are hundreds of great Christmas poems, here are a few lines from my favorite one, by St Robert, who had a truly childlike innocence and yet always manages to dazzle you with his theological insights into very deep Christian mysteries.
“Behold the Father is His daughter’s son,
The bird that built the nest is hatc’d therein,
...Might feeble is and force doth faintly creep,
...Up heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this world, this joy repairs...”
St Robert Southwell, SJ
A most beautiful, Spiritfilled, and joyful Christmas!
Fr Bill McNichols
24 December 2017