SPIRITUALITY IS LIKE AN ARTIST WHO STUDIES A MODEL

Eugene’s spirituality was always focused on Jesus the Savior – a vision that he worked at reproducing in his daily life. Using the image of a painter, he wrote when he was a seminarian:

To make myself like Jesus Crucified

It is like the painter who copies a model.

He places the model in the best light,

studies him carefully,

concentrates on him,

tries to engrave his image in his spirit,

then he traces some lines on the paper, which he compares with the original ,

then he makes corrections until he is satisfied that it conforms with the original, then he continues…

Unpublished exercise book, in the Archives of the OMI General House, Rome

Eugene is not aiming at transforming himself into an exact photographic reproduction of Jesus the Savior. That is unrealistic and impossible. Like an artist, Eugene’s spirituality consists in focusing intensely on the model, and then allowing that model to express himself through the vision of the artist’s experience and understanding of the human person and of the world in which he lives. Different artists like icon painters or Michelangelo or Picasso or sculptors or poets or actors or movie makers study the same model, but produce a personalized view. From each of them we learn and are enriched.

As we explore Mazenodian spirituality, I would like to use this image to reflect on how Eugene was a spiritual artist, and how he reflected his model, Jesus Crucified.

What is your image or model for your own spiritual expression and growth?

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“The specific Christian spirituality, then, is one that is centered on the experience of God as savior through Jesus… In every situation, our instinct is to ‘look to Jesus’ (Heb 12:2). From beginning to end, the form of spirituality is the imitation of Christ.”   Luke Timothy Johnson,

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4 Responses to SPIRITUALITY IS LIKE AN ARTIST WHO STUDIES A MODEL

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    These questions that Frank ask require reflection and no little amount of hard work. Not really daunting but still I do not feel that I can be flippant here and then just walk away. I have heard the questions before but my being seems to hear and take them in a little more deeply. There is too a a temptation to instantly reject myself saying immediately that I am not looking to the same model(s) directly and so am failing miserably and should quit while I am ahead. But a small hesitation and I reject that scenario almost immediately.

    I look deeper and slowly come to the realisation that indeed my model is Jesus, ordinary-growing-up-the-same-as-others Jesus, on-the-cross Jesus, resurrected Jesus, person-of-the-Trinity Jesus, lover-in-the-garden Jesus…. I find and see him in others who are saints – both known and unknown save by God. People like Catherine de Houek Doherty, or St. Paul who I have often felt a kinship for; St. Francis and Mary of Magdalene; Mary, Mother of God and of course most especially St. Eugene de Mazenod who I follow most closely. That experience of God giving to me the Oblates as a gift while at the same time of me being given to them as gift and in all of that finding and growing a relationship with Eugene.

    And as I sit here and share the thoughts and impulses that arise I laugh gently at myself as I look at those first seconds of utter panic as I read the beauty and joy of Eugene’s words and viewed Franks’s question, wondering who the man he quoted was, and even a stray thought of did I belong here this morning. But these quickly changed to a rush of joy and gratitude for all who have been and are prominent in my life, my journey. I thank God for those who I come upon and with whom I experience Jesus in a deliberate way.

    Today I will look off and on at the question posed by Frank: “What is your image or model for your own spiritual expression and growth?” It occurs to me that this is part of the on-going formation that has been promised to us. There is such joy in becoming aware of all that God has ordained for each of us, that we would come to know ourselves and God within so intimately in the looking and seeing with the eyes of others.

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    Wonderful focus and question, not for a “quick answer” or “summary statement” but for ongoing prayer and meditation. In Jesus, we see the heart of what it means to be truly human in God’s image: surrendered, loving, obedient. See the interview with Jean Vanier (America Magazine, by Sean Salai, SJ) in another post today. Thank you, Frank, for shepherding this reflection!

    • franksantucci says:

      “Shepherding”is the right word, Pat. This exploration of Oblate spirituality has to be a communal search and an exciting journey to verbalize something that has been lived for 200 years, but never sufficiently clearly defined. Our CC&RR, our Rule of Life, has so much wealth in it – but it needs to be re-stated and expressed for all in the Mazenodian family according to each one’s particular circumstances.

  3. consuelo_flauta says:

    Very inspiring….soul-lifting.

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