Saturday, November 19, 2011

St John Marie Baptiste Vianney Patron of Parish Priests

There are several elements of the image that I feel are important to the Icon. The image on the book is the Lamb of God slain for our sins, but risen and victorious over death. This image is on a vestment of the Saint. Reconciliation was a very important element of St John Vianney's ministry.  He spent many hours daily administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The cross on the purple stole is in the pattern of the criss-cross of the confessional window; he spent many hours daily administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation and was a great blessing to those who came to receive forgiveness. The book, representing the Gospels, the image of the Lamb holding the Cross plus the purple stole say everything there is to say - the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. St John understood perfectly that saving souls by freeing them from the burden of sin is what the priestly ministry is all about.  The priest is another Christ.

An icon is a window into heaven.  The gold represents heaven. Gold reflects light, while all other elements absorb light. What a wonderful image of heaven - it reflects the light of Christ. It is a marvellous demonstration of Gods glory. The light does not come from the halo but balls onto the saint from above – the Holy Spirit who speaks through him.
As we are embracing the new translation of the Missal I have represented this image in the icon. St John Vianney is the Patron Saint of parish priests and the missal was very dear to his heart. He spent much time in teaching catechism classes. St John’s right hand is held in blessing and the symbolic pattern of our doctrine. The thumb and ring finger are joined symbolizing the eternal love of the Trinity, the index and middle fingers are upright symbolizing the divine and human natures of Christ and the little finger proclaims three persons in one God. The mouth of the Saint closed and his ear is open and listening to the word of God.
The preliminary stage of writing an icon. It is a journey of discovery, research, choices, many, many decisions have to be made. How shall I speak of this mighty man. What is the element of his character that is most important to me. While I wrote this Icon of St John Marie Baptiste Vianney I wondered what did he did in his life that made such a monumental difference to the world that made the Church proclaim him Saint. Who is this great man of God.
This gentle portrayal of the Saint, based on the image used in the wayside chapels around Ars, captures the essence of the man, his simplicity and his littleness.


Bishop Brian Heenan, Rockhampton,refletion of the Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King brings to a close our liturgical year and invites us again to reflect on the place of Jesus Christ in our lives.  The question for this time is: What is the kingdom all about, asks Brian Heenan, Bishop of Rockhampton.
Bishop Brian Heenan, Rockhampton,refletion of the Feast of Christ the King

In the readings for the occasion, Jesus is presented as a shepherd (Ezekiel), the first to rise in the resurrection (Corinthians) and the judge who will examine how we have cared for one another.
The title ‘King’ means less and less in our modern world and for disciples of Jesus, it finds its deepest meaning in the words of the much loved hymn where Jesus is described as The King of Love on Calvary.
So, once again love becomes the key to Jesus’ kingdom, love emerges as the sign that we have understood the call to discipleship.
At this time of the year, we look back on the 2011 in Australia where we have had devastating natural disasters; floods and fires, the tragic loss of life of our soldiers in Afghanistan, political uncertainty at Federal and State level and so much more.  Within the Church, we have recently had the Australian Bishops Ad Limina visit to Rome, and the sadness of the retirement of a truly pastoral bishop.
We may add our experiences in our own journey this year and rediscover that life in the kingdom is fraught with dying and rising experiences, in a society which is far from perfect.  Yet, it is in this world, in this market place, that Jesus laboured and He challenges us to work there with Him.
One of the strengths of the kingdom is that we are in it together, and we draw spiritual energy from one another.  We find inspiration in people like Mother Theresa and much closer to home, Saint Mary MacKillop, who has shown us how to translate the kingdom values into our everyday living.
Recently in our Diocese, we farewelled an extraordinary priest in the person of Father Michael Hayes, who was aged eighty-five years old, and who had celebrated sixty-one years of priestly ministry.
Michael Hayes could be described as a ‘man for all seasons’ a person whose sole focus was to be there for others.  He will be remembered for a lifetime of support for Aboriginal and Islander peoples, but his outreach was to all.
He simply believed that every person, regardless of their circumstances, their belief, or lack of belief, was precious and deserving of dignity and support.  He put that belief into practice right to his dying day.
As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, may we discover again that it is a Kingdom of Love, operating in a broken world, but drawing on the power of Christ the King and the inspiration of many around us who live their lives in love.
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