A few months ago, Katie Woltornist (founder of Behold Visiodivina) and I co-led a “Day at the Met” event for young adult women in the NY, NJ, and CT area. The focus of this event was to promote fellowship and time to encounter & pray with beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Together, we began the day by looking at “Christ Appearing to His Mother” (Juan de Flandes, 1496), followed by a guided meditation and reflection prepared by Katie. Later, we shared some of our reflections and I was particularly struck by my friend Samantha’s reflection. I asked her to share her experience and prayer:
“A few themes had been floating around in my head prior to visiting “Christ Appearing to His Mother”: faith in the face of the unknown, being receptive, and mourning. I had never seen the painting before so I was grateful for Katie’s explanation, but after looking at it for several minutes I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin.
I found an empty bench in another room where a large painting hung in front of me- “The Entombment” by Moretto da Brescia. Mary held the body of Jesus which was being laid on a stone on which was written, “He was obedient unto death.” Her face and the faces of the others in the painting were of an incomprehensible grief. Upon spending some time resting with this image, I realized there seemed to be a connection between “Christ Appears to His Mother” and “The Entombment”: Mary’s facial expression is the same in both paintings.
This connection brought a new light to my understanding of both scenes. I started to understand more deeply that even though Mary had perfect hope she still suffered, mourned her Son’s death, and grieved. She did not force herself to be happy because she knew He would rise. She did not hide her feelings. Mary lived in the present moment, she experienced what God willed for her in that moment, and she was obedient to His will for her in that moment, as Jesus was obedient to the Fathers will.
What do we do in the face of the unknown? What do we do while we are waiting?
Mary is urging us to be faithful, to be obedient. This requires being present in whatever God has chosen for us. If it is joy, we should be joyful; if it is suffering, we should suffer. We should not brush them off by looking into the future.
Jesus is urging us to wait for Him. He asks us not to focus on what He will do, but to simply focus on His coming to us– on His presence alone.” -Samantha Chestney, Bronx NY