This week we celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. In the midst of all the food, friends and family, the most obvious part of our celebration is (hopefully) gratitude. Therefore, while giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives it would be appropriate this year to give thanks for the great mercy of God poured out to us without any limitations. It would also be good to give thanks for being able to tap into this incredible grace in our daily lives so that we can offer it to others. That we have been given the ability to act with mercy means that we have the ability to act as God acts, to act the Gospel way, the way Jesus acted during His life.
©Michele L. Catanese
NOTE: The next post will be on December 5.
* The quote from Pope Francis is from Misericordiae Vultus, the document (called a Bull) which declared the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. You can find the entire document by clicking on the following link: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html
IMAGES: All of the photos are mine.
The first photo was taken in one of the gardens of the Boston Common in Boston, MA, this past September. I chose it because like mercy, beauty is a sign of God's presence. But I also chose it because roses are in season a lot longer than we often realize, but even when they are out of season, they are supplied from other countries where they continue to bloom. I think this is symbolic of how we share mercy with one another, especially when it is needed most.
The second photo is a stained glass window I saw while at Mt. Carmel in Israel. The church was a commemoration of where Elijah fled from Jezebel, the evil queen who sought his life when Elijah had done heroic deeds for the Lord. In what is my favorite Old Testament passage, Elijah prays desperately to God while running from Jezebel, asking God to take his life because he feels like he has failed and he is very tired from running. But God in His great love and mercy sends an angel, depicted here, to give Elijah food from Heaven which sustains him until he reaches safety at Mt. Carmel. I love the passage because God not only saves Elijah, but gives him a huge 'dose' of love and care, ultimately giving Elijah friendship, a companion to help him with his mission, and gentleness. (See 1 Kings 18 & 19)
The next two photos are from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, in the Galilee region of Israel. The photo on the left is the exterior of the Basilica, and the photo to the right is of the very spot where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she was to be the Mother of God.
Next is an icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called Jesus Christ Holy Forgiveness. I chose this because the most difficult part of mercy and love is forgiveness. Only Christ the King of the Universe could offer this kind of forgiveness and mercy even after His own people nailed Him to a cross. I love this icon because there is great tenderness in Jesus' eyes, and truly in His entire face. I am not sure why, but His lips speak to me of mercy in this icon. I suppose the gentleness in Jesus' face is the same attribute of God which I love in the Elijah passage mentioned above. If you are interested in obtaining this icon or any others from the work of Fr. Bill, you can find this one at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/jesus-christ-holy-forgiveness-040-william-hart-mcnichols.html and the entire site can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/william-hart-mcnichols.html?tab=artworkgalleries
It is the time of year when we think of giving, so that is why I suggest that you might like to purchase an icon in one of many mediums such as a plaque or giclee to give as a gift. (Remember, I get no financial gain or remuneration for making an endorsement of Fr. Bill's work. I just love to share the beauty!)
The next photo is of the pail which is used to draw water at Jacob's Well in Shechem, Israel. It is how we got water out of the well, which indeed still functions. This is the spot where Jacob met his future wife, Rachel, whom he loved with the deepest of loves. The love of Jacob and Rachel is one of the most beautiful and poignant of all the love stories in the Old Testament. This is also the spot where Jesus, in great mercy and love, met the Samaritan woman (John 4) to whom He offered living water. Mercy is living water from Jesus!
The last image is a photo I took while in Taormina, Sicily. It was on the wall of a cafe and I fell in love with the tile work, a prominent art form in Sicily. The image of all the jars of spices, nuts, sweets, chocolates and more, made me think of the plenty with which we often feast at Thanksgiving. May your Thanksgiving be sweet and filled with plenty of love and all that is good, and may you be filled with gratitude, as I am in gratitude to those of you who read my posts! Blessings!