It is right that we should give thanks for God’s great glory, a reality which is imprinted throughout the entirety of the Scriptures. While God’s glory defies description, the holy ones who encountered Him did their best to describe what is truly indescribable. From the earliest passages God is characterized in terms of both great glory and loving intimacy: the two are inseparable. It is as if His love sets Him ablaze with divine fire. That glory and love are intertwined should not surprise us because everything God has done for His people throughout salvation history is about His love for us. God is love, as St. John declares in his first letter, and therefore everything He does is a manifestation of that love. (1 John 4:7-21)
©Michele L. Catanese
Next entry will be February 13.
Note: To be accurate, we do not pray the Gloria during Advent and Lent. We omit it during those seasons so as to heighten the longing and also to make the rejoicing more meaningful at Christmas and Easter respectively.
Images: The first photo is a star cluster which I found a long time ago, but do not know who to credit. I suspect it is a NASA photo. I chose it because it truly speaks to the glory of God reflected in all of His creation.
Second: This is an image painted by Fr. William Hart McNichols called The Hebrew Name of Yahweh-adam Kadmon. I chose it for many reasons. One reason is that I simply love that the letters of the Tetragrammaton, (I Am Who Am) are superimposed upon one another. These letters are aflame as the glory of God was the fiery presence in the bush which was burning, but not consumed. The other reason I chose this is because the name of the image is a reference to Moses hearing God say His name, not just as I AM, but also later when God spoke it when He passed by Moses in the great act of friendship and intimacy. (Exodus 33:18-23) You can obtain a copy of this image by going to Fr. Bill's page at Fine Art America, http://fineartamerica.com/featured/hebrew-name-of-yahweh-adam-kadmon-183-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
Third: This is another one of the works of Fr. William Hart McNichols. It is called Holy Prophet Elijah. I chose it because it depicts Elijah being fed by a raven. This took place at the beginning of the ministry of Elijah when God told him that in the midst of the drought and famine he would be fed by ravens. (1 Kings 17:1-6) And later when Elijah was fleeing for his life God sent a messenger (an angel) to feed him so that he would have the strength to get to Mt. Carmel where he experienced the glory of God in the light, silent sound. (1 Kings 19:12; read the entire story which is found in chapter 19. It is gorgeous.) God feeds us with whatever we need whether it is the physical food which strengthens our body, the food of grace which strengthens our spirit, or the food of love and mercy which strengthens our heart. You can also find this at Fr. Bill's site, along with so many other wonderful icons and images:
Fourth: This is a beautiful painting of The Presentation of the Lord: Scenes from the Life of Christ by Giotto di Bondone painted between 1304 and 1306. It is in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. I chose this because Giotto captured the tenderness of the scene in which the prophet Simeon takes the child Jesus from His mother's arms and declares his praise, glorifying God. Anna, whose words were not recorded, speaks eloquently through her gesture of pointing to the Child. I marvel most at Mary in this fresco, however: as always she gives Jesus to others, sharing Him without clinging. It is prophetic of her role at the wedding in Cana (John 2) when she propels Jesus into His public ministry. You can find a bit about the painting at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giotto_di_Bondone_-_No._19_Scenes_from_the_Life_of_Christ_-_3._Presentation_of_Christ_at_the_Temple_-_WGA09197.jpg
Fifth: This is one of my photos taken of the Alps near Davos, Switzerland. I chose this photo because the Alps are magnificent and speak to me of the glory of God. The clouds remind me of the experience of Moses who entered into the cloud of God's presence, the Shekinah.
Sixth: This is An Old Woman With a Rosary, by Paul Cezanne (1895-96). I chose this because I loved the humility with which the woman is praying. It seems like she is hearing the 'silent sound' of the glory of God. She is immersed in it in the midst of a sincere, simple moment of prayer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_paintings_by_Paul_C%C3%A9zanne#/media/File:Paul_C%C3%A9zanne_067.jpg
Seventh: This is another of my photos. I took this in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I chose it because the riot of color and the beauty of the falls were an experience of the glory of God when I was there. The photo transports me back to that time though as I see it now, the falls are like that silent sound: I have to hear it interiorly.