Sunday, November 8, 2015

Please Capture My Heart!

I've begun reading "Shirt of Flame:A Year with St.Therese of Lisieux" by Heather King.  Its an introduction to the life of St.Therese and her "Little Way" refracted through the life and experiences of the author, an ex-lawyer, recovering alcoholic, contemplative and Catholic convert at midlife.  I'm only a chapter past the introduction, but I'm hoping that this might provide me with the way into a deeper appreciation of this remarkable saint who is the patroness of our diocese here in Juneau and whose shrine north of town on Lynn Canal is a place of particular devotion to her.   And of course, because I read and pray better with a brush in my hand, I've also begun drawing the pattern for an icon of her.

Given all that, you'd think a devotion to St.Therese would come naturally to me.

Well, think again.  For reasons that I don't fully understand, I've never really warmed to St.Therese.  Not dislike or repugnance or disagreement -- but to date, she hasn't yet seized hold of my imagination or more importantly, captured my heart.  Which is necessary (at least for me!) to compose an icon that has any life or truth in it.  Yes, I understand that the icon, (which makes visible the person or salvation narrative invisibly present to the one coming before in prayer ) does not depend on the ability or temperment or even the understanding of the iconpainter.  But for me at least, grace has to build on nature, which in my case means that there has to be an inner resonance between the saint or the mystery which is the subject of the icon and my own spiritual vision and understanding.  That vision, however weak, fallible and limited, is, for all that, uniquely my own.

So as I begin to ponder what Heather King has to say about St.Therese (presented throughout the book in the words of her spiritual autobiography), I hope this holy young woman who dedicated herself to the Child Jesus and to the Holy Face, will indeed seize my imagination.  And that she will eventually capture my heart.

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