I helped a sister into her office this morning and was rewarded with a new image of Our Lady to share with all of you!
Many of you are likely familiar with the artwork of Brother Michael O'Neill McGrath, OSFS. If you're not, I'm delighted to be the one to introduce you! He's an award-winning artist whose deeply Catholic themes jump to life through brightly colored watercolors (at least I think they're watercolors).
The image I'll be sharing today is titled "Tower of Mercy."
You'll have to forgive the reflections - those aren't part of the piece. At first glance (because I only got to see it for a few seconds before running off to work), I thought it was an image of the Incarnation. After all, the Holy Spirit has descended upon what appeared to be Our Lady's womb. I attributed the tears to her humble acceptance of the Sacrifice she knew she'd one day bear witness to.
When I opened the image up on my computer for closer inspection, the first thing I noticed was the angel at the bottom holding what looked to be a flaming pentagon. I simultaneously realized it was THE Pentagon, and it was flaming right next to the Twin Towers which were being held by the second angel. Suddenly Our Lady's tears made a lot more sense.
Also, the words around her halo are taken from the Hail, Holy Queen (a Marian prayer for those of you unfamiliar): "To thee do we send our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears."
I really like how Brother McGrath uses the curves of the letters to create a halo of tears that mimics Our Lady's sadness. Our prayer, in effect, echos hers.
She comes, then, our prayers reaching out to her and pulling her close, bearing the Holy Spirit. So many people in the years since the September 11th tragedy have said that they can't believe more people didn't die. I truly believe the Hand of God was upon America; the Blessed Mother asked that we be spared more suffering, and so angels supported the towers until more could escape. Angels surrounded the Pentagon and helped our officials get to safety. Divine Providence ensured that people who were supposed to be at the epicenter of these events were somehow displaced, late, sick or otherwise unable to be there (my brother included).
Mary is, indeed, a Tower of Mercy. As our ever-loving mother, she seeks to surround and protect us - even in the midst of chaos and terror. The flames of her love (and the Divine Love of the Spirit which emanates from her Immaculate Heart) are bigger and more powerful than those of the terrorist attacks.
And so it truly is. Our Lady is bigger and stronger than any of the terror we see in our world today, and we would do well to turn to her in prayer. She cries out for her children all over the world because we do so much damage to ourselves, but she does not forsake us; she will not forsake us. No matter how dark the night, no matter the flames and smoke that engulf us, she will rise as a beacon of hope and love, of strength and mercy.
Bless Brother McGrath for using his God-given talent in such an inspiring way. His ability to take sacred themes and make them accessible to everyone is awe-inspiring.
This entry is not for the faint of heart. The image below disturbed me something fierce, so if you don't want to wrestle with the same inner despair I am over this situation, please step away from this article. It deals specifically with murdered children, so please - click to another blog because this will leave your heart crying out for vengeance.
On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, they posted a very large photo of shrouded bodies. At first glance, they looked to be sleeping, but the central figure, possibly a mother in grief, stooped over one of the figures as a man supported her while another caressed the face of the child.
My heart immediately skipped a beat as I fought the urge to cry out. I stared at the image and couldn't help but note how beautiful these little girls were. I assume the photo was taken outside of a girl's school, because each of the little faces peeking out from the sheets was a beautiful, beautiful little girl.
My God - I pictured my nieces in those blankets. My son. How could we, as humans, do this to one another? To steal away these precious lives, and with them, the lives of those left behind? This is evil - this is such terrible, terrible evil.
Again, I can almost hear my husband saying, "Gina, just stop looking at it. Why do you torture yourself by dwelling on this sorta stuff?"
I just can't help it. Look at those faces. Look at those angelic little faces and tell me they don't deserve to have their stories known. That they don't deserve to have their stories FELT so that hearts around the world resound their anger and defiance of such evil existing in our world.
No. Knowing this evil exists and unmasking it so that others are aware of it is that absolute least I can do. Spreading the word so that others can join their prayers and fasting for these families is a tiny step in the direction of healing, and these children... these families... they deserve at least that much.
So regardless of how much my heart bleeds as I think on this situation, I will look at each of those little faces, think on each of their broken, hurting families, and I will pray. I will meditate on their suffering and I will spread the word so that others can do the same. I will then offer it to Christ and beg that He come back to us soon because truly... we need His help. We are a plague unto ourselves, and we simply do not have the strength to pull ourselves from the mud.
May God have mercy on us.
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