This text is published in the revised edition of, The Cross, Our Only Hope: Daily Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition, Edited by Andrew Gawrych, CSC and Kevin Grove, CSC. Published by, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana. 2016 $17.95
Just what does a painter do? He studies his subject. He fills himself with it totally in order to reproduce it and, in a manner of speaking, to create it anew on canvas in a very close imitation of the subject’s features. Is it thus that you try to make Jesus Christ live again in you, to the point of his being totally remade or formed again in you? – Blessed Basil Moreau
I recently picked up a paintbrush for the first time in more than thirty years. My new teacher observed my grief from leaving my previous parish assignment. She suggested that I paint an image of a person who had significantly touched my heart in ministry. I slowly dipped my brush into a dab of paint and began to push the color onto a piece of paper.
The face of a man who still lives in a tent in the woods emerged in acrylic. Our parish had received him into the Church some ears ago. He still lives with depression, isolation, and unemployment; however, his face reveals the love of Jesus through his poverty and vulnerability.
People living with mental illness, generational poverty, or loneliness and disease show us the face of Jesus. We discover the tender face of Jesus through his mercy, love and forgiveness, not through our control, selfishness, and false power. People’s stories of suffering teach us about he search for faith in honest relationships as we gin to create genuine community.
In order to create genuine art, we need to be emptied of our judgments, cynical attitudes, and inability to see people for who they are. We also learn to see ourselves in the strokes of paint and dabs of color. In my case, all the years without creating art have passed for a reason. I am now vulnerable enough to see the colorful face of Jesus, who is still with us in the people and in me, all of us searching for hope and new life. – Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC