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For Lent 2016- Jesus Christ Morning Star - Jesucristo El Lucero Radiante del Alba

February 17th, 2016

For Lent 2016- Jesus Christ Morning Star - Jesucristo El Lucero Radiante del Alba

For Lent 2016: Jesus Christ Morning Star
(Jesucristo El Lucero Radiante del Alba)

Following the murders in 1999 of the teenagers at Columbine High School in Colorado , I began to imagine creating an Icon of Jesus as a teenager. It seems that the world children have inherited is increasingly impossible for them to bear. With the recent massive number of deaths, in so many ways, we all feel the stalking presence of evil.

In 2001 Olga Torres-Reid invited me to create an altar for the Day of the Dead, in an exhibit, held in Taos, New Mexico entitled "Sobre Muerte" which placed me directly at the center of this tension. Death itself is not evil. St Francis of Assisi spoke to death as our friend, Sister Death. However the deliberate murder of innocent people is evil. How to respond to this conflict? Bringing the teenage Christ into the worl , gave me an opportunity to respond through art.

The frame was carved for this exhibit by my friend, the master woodworker and Santero, Roberto Lavadie. I had seen the haunting image of the skull with wings during my years of study in Boston, on the old New England gravestones. What does it mean for a skull to have wings?

I painted the frame black and white and brought a Taos teenager, as Christ, into the ominous landscape and sky, as the color , the light , and the life in the midst of death. Before I finished this work, the horrendous disaster of September 11 shook the world and so I painted the wounds onto the hands of Christ. Jesucristo El Lucero Radiante del Alba comes from the last chapter of the Apocalypse (Revelation), chapter 22 verse 16:

"I am the Light of the Dawn or the Bright Morning Star."

Though surrounded by darkness, death has no dominion over the youthful Lord of Life.

Fr Bill McNichols
Lent of 2016

Heart Speaks to Heart

February 17th, 2016

Heart Speaks to Heart

Michele L. Catanese has a Master’s degree in Christian Spirituality as well as certification as a Spiritual Director and Retreat Director from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She was a Religious of the Cenacle for 7 years during which time she began training as a Spiritual director. In addition to Creighton University, she did her theological studies at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Latrobe, PA, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, and Boston College in Boston, MA. She taught Theology, primarily Scripture and Christian Spirituality, at the high school level for 22 years and she offered faith formation, spiritual consultation, and educational formation for faculty. Michele has also taught adult education courses on Scripture, Prayer, and Christian Spirituality. She has given various seminars, days of prayer, and retreats in a number of cities and she has practiced spiritual direction since 1986.

http://www.catanesesd.com/micheles-blog/let-love-decide-everything

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas - Feast Day January 28

January 26th, 2016

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas - Feast Day January 28

The Silence of St Thomas Aquinas ( feast day January 28 )
In my six year apprenticeship with master Iconographer, Friar Robert Lentz, OFM, I began to experience the importance of the silent mystery in so many enigmatic icons, such as Mother of God Similar to Fire and Jesus Christ Redeemer Holy Silence. I think in the West we are uncomfortable with mystery and silence. We want an immediate explanation of what we are looking at in a work of art, but that kind of impatience will only frustrate the viewer of icons.
This icon of Thomas Aquinas deferring to an apparition of Holy Wisdom, is the result of reading two books on the Angelic Doctor:
Aquinas Search For Wisdom by Vernon Bourke and Silence of St Thomas by Josef Pieper.
(we ) "...man, in his philosophical inquiry, is faced again and again with the experience that reality is unfathomable and Being is mystery - an experience, it is true, which urges him not so much to communicate as to silence. But it would not be the silence of resignation, and still less the silence of despair. It would be the silence of reverence."
J. Pieper
Happy Feast Day Angelic Doctor St Thomas!

St Catherine of Siena- Guardian of the Papacy

January 7th, 2016

St Catherine of Siena- Guardian of the Papacy

St Catherine of Siena: Guardian of the Papacy
(1347-1380)
For the people of the Church of the Risen Savior, Albuquerque, New Mexico
(From their Pastor Fr Timothy Martinez)

One of my favorite biographies of Catherine is by her spiritual guide, the Dominican friar, Blessed Raymond of Capua, still available today. But if you are looking for a glimpse of Catherine in a brief (25 page ) essay, there is nothing better than Carol Lee Flinders portrait in her beautiful book, "Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics."
During the papacies of Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI, I found and held onto, a picture of a mosaic of Catherine holding the papal tiara worn by Popes of the past, actually up until St John XXIII who wore it right after his election (I think Blessed Paul VI did too). Catherine has always been connected intimately with the Church and specifically with the Pope. So I began to think of the tiara as a kind of earthly crown, in people's eyes, but the actual tiara worn by any pope, bishop, pastor, male or female superior of a religious order, or any great leader, is the Crown of Thorns.
I see this clearly with all the popes of my life beginning with Pius XII, and especially now with Pope Francis I. In this year of Mercy, I imagine Catherine asking us to have a special kind of Mercy, for the Pope himself. She asks in this icon that we continually pray for him and if you can, love him too; I personally do, with enormous thanksgiving.

Fr Bill McNichols
January 2016

St Jude Patron of the Impossible- Feast Day October 28

November 3rd, 2015

St Jude Patron of the Impossible- Feast Day October 28

St Jude Patron of the Impossible
Feast Day October 28

I can remember living in NYC in the 80's and continually seeing on the back page of local alternative newspapers the words "Thank you St Jude for ..." A multitude of things. There was never a mention of any other Saint and the requests and testimonies of answered prayers always moved my heart into a prayer.
The popular iconography, or colors and symbolism of St Jude are now set; whether it be statues, candles, holy cards or novenas. He looks similar to Jesus, he wears green, he holds a club or staff of his martyrdom, he also holds a medallion or cloth of the Holy Face of Jesus, and there is a flame of the Holy Spirit over his head.
You can google the ancient story of the miracle performed by St. Jude with the Holy Face and King Abgar of Edessa; a beautiful narrative of Jude's first mission after Jesus' death and Resurrection.
But how did he get to be patron of the impossible?
I found a "clue" in Adrienne von Speyr's wonderful Book of All Saints where in her portrait of Jude she calls him "a beast of burden" that during his life he already carried lots of people's troubles and burdens to God. And then she says a most beautiful thing about our Saint Jude:
"He prays well and a lot, especially petitionary prayer. And if someone makes a mistake, then he is the one who prays most for him and petitions in his name for forgiveness... He is a beast of burden, who loads burdens on himself and carries them to God ... He is also the one who understands others, a person to whom they are able to go. He is like a confessor for all of them."
Page 279, Book of All Saints

Most of Fr. Bill's icons are done as commissions, but this original icon of St. Jude was done as a special prayer for cancer patients. It is available for sale, if you are interested please contact us.

3 card choices for Christmas

November 3rd, 2015

3 card choices for Christmas

3 card choices for Christmas

1) Our Lady of Maryknoll
In light of Pope Francis recent beautiful Encyclical, "Laudato Si" about our care and concern for "our common home", I chose this icon of the Holy Child lovingly holding our world, for this Christmas.
http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/products/our-lady-of-maryknoll-100th-anniversary-icon-223-william-hart-mcnichols-greeting-card.html

2) Hagia Hesychia : Jesus Christ Redeemer Holy Silence
This is my version of an enigmatic, beautiful 19th century Angelic icon who represents the young Jesus, and a call, especially in Advent, into a contemplative place within us.
http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/products/hagia-hesychia-jesus-christ-redeemer-holy-silence-086-william-hart-mcnichols-greeting-card.html

3) The Holy Family of Bethlehem
Less than two miles from the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem is the Holy Family Hospital . What a privilege to create this icon for this extraordinary maternity hospital that serves women and men of all faiths.
http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/products/the-holy-family-for-the-holy-family-hospital-of-bethlehem-272-william-hart-mcnichols-greeting-card.html

St Teresa of Avila - Doctor of the Church

October 8th, 2015

St Teresa of Avila - Doctor of the Church

St Teresa of Avila:Doctor of the Church
(she is shown with the hands of Christ)
This year is the 500th Anniversary of Teresa's birth in 1515

"One day while I was in prayer, the Lord decided to show me just his hands.
I could never describe such beauty! The vision shocked me. I am always frightened when God gives me a new supernatural favor. A few days after this, he showed me his divine face, and I was completely absorbed.
Since the Lord would ultimately grant me the favor of seeing him whole, I wondered why he chose to reveal himself little by little. Later I understood that his Majesty was giving me exactly as much as my delicate nature could handle ...
Why, may you ask, does it require such strength to see some hands and a face? Glorified bodies are so exquisite that a mere glimpse of such supernatural beauty leaves a soul dazzled and confused. At first, this vision stirred intense fear in me. But the agitation soon melted into a sense of calm certainty and peace."
Taken from
Teresa of Avila : The Book of My Life
Translated by Mirabai Starr
New Seeds Books
Used with permission

Viriditas - Finding God In All Things

September 2nd, 2015

Viriditas - Finding God In All Things

Viriditas : Finding God In All Things
An image with Icons too, created for Loyola Chicago University
5ft x 10ft
When Fr Mark Bosco, SJ commissioned me to paint his dream of these saints holding up the World, my question to myself was
How do they hold up the World?
The answer you see right here, is a kind of Map which might tell you where to go, but you have to actually make the journey. The Map is a prayer, and the journey, I pray will give you continual insights which will lead to action, so that with the holy three of Ignatius, Hildegard, Francis and the Holy Child Jesus, you might learn something about how the Holy Spirit continues to Green the World.
The Saints are grounded in the Blood of Christ which feeds the World as our Mothers own blood feeds us in the womb.
If you look at nature closely in the early spring, all green things begin with red (wounds) buds, shoots, and branches. Then they flower into green and abundant colors of infinite life. The leaves, vibrant rocks and stones are living examples of how nature praises the Creator. Earths atmosphere, usually a thin line of blue is, in this version green , with the life of the Holy Spirit . Twelve tongues of the Spirits flames hover round the World as in a New Pentecost which St John the XXIII and St John Paul II prophesied for the 21st Century.
The Holy Spirit is seen just at that moment when God speaks the Word from Genesis : Let there be Light and life as we know it began to swirl from the void.
The gorgeous frame by Master woodworker Roberto Lavadie of Taos, chants the Holy Holy Holy...as with Hildegards inspired chants, she claims to have heard immersed in God, the Living Light; Heaven and Earth are full of Gods glory. Christ the Deer, or hart, is at the bottom standing in precious water which nourishes all life.
There is so much more to say, but I think thats enough to begin to lead you into a contemplation of Viriditas: Finding God In All Things.

Fr William Hart McNichols
August 2015

Father Bills Blog

July 28th, 2014

Father Bills Blog

Fr. Bill McNichols, Iconographer and priest, writes about his art, his contemplative process and his subjects. He also invites guest bloggers such as Fr. Jim Martin, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and Rosemary Maguire Thompson of P. Francis Murphy Initiative for Justice and Peace. Topics include Icons, Saints and their Feast Days and general artistic and religious observances.

 

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