Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Icon "Behold, the Source of all Grace", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Seeing as this is Mother's Day, I decided to present another icon of our Blessed Mother, Mary.  She is truly the "Mother of all Christians" for she is Theotokos, the Mother of Christ Jesus and we, through Baptism, have been incorporated into the very body of Christ.  As well, Our Lord gave us His mother to be our mother as he was dying on the cross through the words He spoke to John:  "Behold your mother".

I thought I would just talk a bit about the history the images of our Lady.  If you are not that interested, feel free to skip to Braden or Suki.

The earliest representation of the Madonna and Child may be the wall painting in the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, in which the seated Madonna suckles the Child, who turns his head to gaze at the spectator. The earliest consistent representations of Mother and Child were developed in the Eastern Empire, where despite an iconoclastic strain in culture that rejected physical representations as "idols", respect for venerated images was expressed in the repetition of a narrow range of highly conventionalized types, the repeated images familiar as icons (Greek "image"). 

In the West, Byzantine models were closely followed in the Early Middle Ages, but with the increased importance of the understanding of the place of Our Lady in Salvation History, images of the Virgin in the 12th and 13th centuries exhibited a wide variety of types developed to satisfy a flood of more intensely personal forms of piety. In the usual Gothic and Renaissance formulas the Virgin Mary sits with the Infant Jesus on her lap, or enfolded in her arms. In earlier representations the Virgin is enthroned, and the Child may be fully aware, raising his hand to offer blessing. In a 15th century Italian variation, a baby John the Baptist looks on. Late Gothic sculptures of the Virgin and Child may show a standing virgin with the child in her arms. Iconography varies between public images and private images supplied on a smaller scale and meant for personal devotion in the chamber: the Virgin suckling the Child, for example, is an image largely confined to private devotional icons. 

There was a great expansion of the Our Lady after the Council of Ephesus in 431, when her status as Theotokos ("God-bearer or Mother of God") was confirmed. This had been a subject of some controversy until then, though mainly for reasons to do with arguments over the nature of Christ. In mosaics in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, dating from 432-40, just after the council, she is not yet shown with a halo, and she is also not shown in Nativity scenes at this date, though she is included in the Adoration of the Magi. By the next century the iconic depiction of the Virgin enthroned carrying the infant Christ was established, as in the example from the only group of icons surviving from this period, at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai. This type of depiction, with subtly changing differences of emphasis, has remained the mainstay of depictions of Mary to the present day. The image at Mount Sinai succeeds in combining two aspects of Mary described in the Magnificat, her humility and her exaltation above other humans, and has the Hand of God above, up to which the archangels look.

Icon "Jesus Christ -- a Priest forever", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

As well, I wanted to include a new image of Our Lord since apart from Him neither we or our Lady would have any hope for holiness and eternal life.

This icon is based upon the line from Psalm 110 as the comments on it in the letter to the Hebrews where the Messiah is spoken of as a "priest forever after the order of Melchizedek".



Braden was busy learning about how to pull things apart and then ask his Mom to put them back together!  Wheels seem to have a particular fascination for him.  Suddenly, however, his deep concentration was broken by seeing a pair of sunglasses lying nearby!  Having seen how "cool" guys seem to always be wearing them, he decided to see just how cool he would look if he was wearing them.  So on his face they went.  Not bad, Braden, not bad at all!  Now if you could just ditch that T-shirt (which tells the world what private functions your body is up to), I think the girls would really like the look!

"There are two wheels together here.  I wonder if I can pull them apart?!"

"OK, great.  Now I have just got one wheel left and it doesn't seem to want to come apart.  There must be a lesson here!  Mom, can you put my wheels back together?"

"Well, what is this lying here?  It looks like sunglasses that those teenage guys are always wearing.  Let's see how I look in them.  Hey, Mom, am I cool or what?!!"



Suki, always concerned that she might be missing out on
interesting food stuffs, has to carefully investigate my 
breakfast!  Notice her paw is raised just in case my cereal
attacks her!!
Suki continues to have her difficulties getting me trained as regards her food, feeding times, etc. I think she sometimes thinks that I am just not teachable!

Let me just tell you about these past days which have been so difficult for poor Suki.  

Thursday morning Suki kept begging for just a bit more food at breakfast time.  I finally gave in and did what I normally refuse to do:  I gave her a second helping of her favourite "turkey and gravy".  She gobbled this down far too quickly and then went off to nap on the back of the sofa.  I noticed after a while that she seemed unusually still -- as though she wasn't really sleeping but just keeping her eyes closed (she usually moves a lot when she is sleeping as though chasing pigeons or something).  

Suddenly, I saw her leap from the sofa and crouch down on the rug.  Then those familiar noises started -- those noises that everyone who lives with cats hates to hear:  the noises that tell you that the cat is either spitting up a hairball or vomiting.  

At the first sound, I grabbed some paper towels and some wet wipes and so was ready to rescue the rug as soon as she was finished.  Knowing that there is usually a second, smaller episode, I followed her to the hallway rug.  Sure enough, she deposited just a bit more.   Again I was ready.

Once Suki had cleaned herself up and watched me as I went back over the spots with clean wipes, she immediately started asking for food!  I told her "no way, kiddo.  You are on jello and dry toast (translate dry food and water) for the duration.  Suki, of course, did not really believe this and continued to beg until I finally, rudely, removed her bodily from the kitchen.  She seemed confused by this and so waited near the kitchen just in case she had misunderstood my actions.

After a while, when it became evident that I was not going to feed her, she turned her back on me, stuck her tail straight up in the air and walked away with as much dignity as possible.  For the remainder of that day the battle continued and much to Suki's dismay, she did not get any more of her favourite food.  Finally, shortly before my bedtime, I gave her a small amount of the wet food.  I did this as a means to get at least some sleep for I knew that  if I didn't feed her, she might allow me to get to sleep but would start waking me up shortly thereafter.  This way I had the possibility of getting a few hours, at least, of uninterrupted sleep.  And, this is exactly what happened.

The next morning she was given the usual portion of wet food for breakfast and when she begged for more, I gently ushered her out of the kitchen.  So it continued all day Friday and Saturday.  Normally on Sunday, a day that I consider to be a "small" Easter, I usually give her just a bit of extra food when I sit down for my main meal of the day -- a meal that usually includes a few extra treats for me.  I debated about whether to give her anything extra this noon time and finally decided to do so.  She appeared to be extremely happy about this but it did not stop her from begging for more! So far, the extra food has not caused us any problems.  So, whatever caused the episode on Thursday, it no longer seems be a problem!  

As for me, other than the issues associated with Suki, things have been much the same.  There have been a lot of difficult times to get through over these past days, but somehow I have made it.  I had hoped to go to a get-together this afternoon being held at the home of a dear friend; however, I just did not have enough stamina to even try.  As well, I have been struggling with a migraine for the past two days and while it is better, it is still not gone completely.

I am seeing both of the really important doctors this coming week:  the surgeon who worked on my eyes and the doctor at the sleep disorders clinic (which includes the Asthma lab where I have another test scheduled).  I am prepared to do battle with both of these doctors if necessary.  I hope it will not be necessary, but I know I have to advocate for myself or no one will.  So, hopefully by the time I am writing the posting on Wednesday afternoon, I will have some news about the majority of my ongoing problems.

So, as it is getting to be almost supper time on this Mother's Day, I had better go and fix myself something to eat (and feed Suki, of course!).  

Let me finish with a little prayer that Our Blessed Mother will watch over us and intercede for us continually with her Divine Son, Jesus Christ.  

Holy Mary, Mother of God [and our Mother], pray for us now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

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