Tuesday, 11 December 2012

St. Elizabeth and Her Son

Icon, "St. Elizabeth holding St. John the Baptist", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
St. John the Baptist and his mother, St. Elizabeth are two of the important figures of the Advent Season.  St. John the Forerunner is found in the Gospels of the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of Advent while his mother, St.Elizabeth, plays a central role in the Gospel of the 4th Sunday along with her unborn son.

The icon shown above is not a common one.  I have only come across one other version of it -- the version on which I based my drawing -- which is why I was so captivated by this unusual presentation.  It shows St. John the Baptist as a young child being held by his mother, St. Elizabeth, who had long since given up on ever having a child.  Their facial expressions, hopefully, show a prophetic understanding of what lies ahead. 

We have no idea how much longer St. Elizabeth lived after St. John was born.  However long it was, I think that the Holy Spirit enabled her to see something of the difficult but important role her son would play in the coming of the Messiah.  Her son, to whom she and Zechariah must have carefully taught the scriptures and the traditions of God's chosen people, surely came to understand the role he was to play. 

Our Lord Jesus was to say of his cousin, John: "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."  Matt. 11.



This time of year is so filled with saints' feast days and special feasts of Our Lady.  Tomorrow, the 12th, is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Below is a drawing I did of the face of that famous icon which was created by no human hand and which still remains beautifully imprinted on the tilma of St. Juan Diego 500 years later -- a tilma which normally would not have lasted for more than 20 years at best. 

Icon, "Our Lady of Guadalupe", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

Our Lady, under this title, is the patroness of the Americas, especially Mexico where her shrine (just outside of Mexico City) will be completely packed with worshippers  today and particularly tomorrow.  Men, women and children who come to say thanks to Our Lady for giving us our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The 13th is the feast of St. Lucy of whom I plan to do an icon some time in the future -- whenever I feel the prompting of the Spirit.

The the 14th, my birthday, is the feast day of St. John of the Cross -- a saint who loved the cross and the suffering which goes with it.

Icon, "St. John of God", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

Friends tease me about my attempts to follow in the footsteps of St. John of the Cross by seeing how much suffering I can squeeze into my life!  Not true.  Whatever God gives, I accept, but I certainly don't ask for it.  Once, you may recall, I even told the Lord that I did not need any extra suffering when it appeared as though I might be suffering from a blocked cardiac artery.  But, as my regular readers will recall, asking for the intercession of St. John of God made all the difference.

I have never had a feeling of completion about this icon of St. John of the Cross and I am still planning on doing another one of him when the time comes.


My "Coming Home" Story 

Over the next few postings I want to share with you the story of my "coming home" to the Catholic Church.  Each section will be accompanied by a photograph of me taken during that time period.  I am not sure why I want to do this at this time, but whatever the reason, I hope it is meaningful for you.

Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, approx. age 23
(c) Photo by D. G. Adams, Used with Permission

I was 20 years old when I discovered the Roman Catholic Church. Oh, sure, I had heard of the Church many times during those 20 years, but I had no actual experience of it –- and besides, most of what I had heard was extremely negative and incorrect.

I grew up in the Bible Belt of the U.S. and can recall attending any number of Baptist revivals with friends where I was told that Catholics were the enemy, they were all going to Hell and that their Pope was actually the anti-Christ spoken of in the Book of Revelation – the last book of the New Testament.

However, when I left university, I went to work for an insurance company in Birmingham, Alabama. Little did I know that the majority of my fellow employees were Catholics.

This had occurred because the woman in charge of personnel, who had the final say when hiring, was a devout Catholic and made a point of hiring young Catholic women since so many businesses in Birmingham, at that time, refused to hire anyone who was a Catholic –- (remember, back then the employer still had the right to ask the religion question).  For some reason she took a liking to me and hired me even though I gave my religion as Methodist. 

Shortly after I was hired, another recent graduate was also hired. Her name was Loretta and we became fast friends. As I got better acquainted with her,... (To be continued)



Suki carefully investigates and early birthday present.
 Suki almost made a dash through the open door into the hallway yesterday when I came home from an appointment.  Since mine is a handicapped apartment, the door is automatic and can be opened by a remote I carry with me.  This means the door opens all the way, pauses for a moment and then slowly closes.  The "slowly closes" part is where temptation is placed in front of Suki. 

She is almost always waiting for me at the door when I come home.  When she first came to live with me, she was fascinated with the front door and looked longingly out into the hallway each time the door opened and closed.  I warned her about making sure she did not get caught just when the door was closing as it is very heavy.

A couple of years ago, I came home laden with parcels from the grocery store, pharmacy and hardware store.  I noticed Suki at the front door as usual but was too concerned with finding a place to put down all parcels to pay attention to her and I wanted to get my frozen things into the fridge right away.  In other words, I was very busy.  I half heard the door closing behind me and knowing that I was safely inside, hurried into the kitchen to put my groceries away.

As I was working, I suddenly heard the most awful noise -- like something between a wild cat fighting combined with some sort of huge factory machine with something caught in its teeth.  It really startled me.  Then, there it came again only this time it was even louder.  A truly awful sound it was.  Suddenly I thought to myself -- "where is Suki?"  She was no where to be seen.  Fearing the worst that her tail was stuck in the door or one of her legs, I rushed towards the front door, pressing the wall button as I hurried as fast as I could. 

As the door opened, a black streak rushed past me into the apartment, running non-stop straight for the closet in the bedroom -- Suki's most safe place of all her safe places.  I followed her as I wanted to make certain that she was not injured.  I gently reached into the closet and begin stroking her head.  As I felt her heart rate begin to slow just a bit, I gently checked all her body parts, including her long tail.  She did not cry out in pain so I assumed that she had not physically hurt herself but had simply been terrified to find herself on the other side of the door without access to her home.

For a long time after that she did not even go close to the front door; however, I have noticed lately that she is showing more and more interest in the hallway again.  I will let you know if she makes another mad dash to satisfy her curiosity!

Today I am going out -- but for the first time in a long time I am not going to see a doctor!  Rather, I am meeting my dear friend, Joyce, for lunch.  She is treating me to lunch in honour of my upcoming birthday!  I do hope that I will be able to enjoy myself for a reasonable amount of time before having to return home and rest.  That is what I am praying for.

Otherwise, I am doing much the same as I was four days ago -- no better but, thankfully, no worse.  I am still waiting, hopefully, for the 21st when I will see the plastic surgeon about fixing my eyelids.  Once that is done, I am truly expecting to feel much better.

My friend, Jessie, had joint replacement surgery yesterday and another friend, Angus, had a terrible automobile accident last week and has been left in pretty bad shape.  Please remember them both in your prayers.

May the peace of God be with us all.

In anticipation of tomorrow's feast, let us ask Our Lady for her intercession. 
And in anticipation of the feast of St. John of the Cross, let us ask him for his intercession as well.  Remember, this is what the communion of saints is all about.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
St. John of the Cross, pray for us.

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