One evening at last week’s retreat, one of the monks opened up the side chapels in the basement of the abbey church for the retreatants to tour.
Community artists contributed crucifixes and images of saints for many of the side rooms where private Masses were celebrated in the days before Vatican II, and likely, some time afterward. Many of the works of art were very moving to me. They really invited more time and contemplation. But there simply wasn’t time to spend everywhere. And there were so many. It was a rather gluttonous feast.
I found two Jesuits, Isaac Jogues and Francis Xavier, imaged right.
The lighting wasn’t great, and I had only my cell phone to capture the image, but perhaps you get a bit of the idea.
As a space geek, you can predict I loved the globe with the outline of Asia, the target of the man’s evangelization. Plus Australia, which was unknown to the Jesuits and almost every other European at this time.
This was one of my first really moving experiences while on retreat last week, of which I haven’t really written much. I sat on the step near the floor, and just looked up. You readers can imagine that the combo of Ignatian and geographical was irresistible.
I know the halo behind the head signifies saintliness, but I was also thinking of the sun in this sculpture. Also the waves that seem to emanate from the sun/halo, and how a believer’s virtuous example indeed radiates Christ to others like the waves of radiation from a star.
I closed my eyes and prayed for the grace to take the Gospel where I am called and where I will be called in the future. As a musician, I communicate with sound waves. And I also have a desire to see the Word communicated to the farthest boundaries, as Fr José Gabriel Funes described in this interview.
Three times in my personal lectio divina early in this retreat I encountered the word “continue” in Acts 14. During another prayer time, that word and the phrase “farthest boundaries” merged together in my consciousness. “Continue to the farthest boundaries” became a mantra of sorts for me for the week.
Granted, I live in the wrong century for personally going into space, and the wrong millennium for a voyage to the distant stars, let alone the farthest boundaries of the universe, like Seyfert’s Sextet, over a quintillion miles away, imaged above (Credit: Hubble Space Telescope/NASA/ESA). But there are interior horizons and inner lands to be explored. Those are the utmost limits we are given in this age. And that is enough of an adventure.
I am likely too old to be thinking of going off on missionary adventures to another continent. (But one never knows.) But I appreciate the opportunity to sit at the feet of such a missionary, and to be quiet in the presence of the saint and of Christ. And I will always dream of those farthest boundaries, and imagine the time when the last Jesuit has arrived at the very end of time and space and then we can suggest to the Lord, “Mission accomplished.”