At the Encountering Christ through Mary retreat, when asked to write my own personal Magnificat, I decided instead, to come up with an image. Words don’t come easy to me. I am more of a picture person. In place of a song of praise, I would have an image of praise.
I brainstormed times in my life when I had encountered Christ, categorizing them into three groups: times I had encountered Christ through the Sacraments, times of great joy, and “other” times I had felt the presence of God. I then tried to think of an element or symbol that depicted each of these three categories for my image of praise to God.
For the first category, encountering Christ through the Sacraments, I thought of a strong, central core. I received the Sacraments of Initiation as a child, and although I have few memories of these events, I realized that they are more than memories, they are my core. These first sacraments were a tradition passed onto me by my parents, which I in turn passed onto my children, the continuation of the journey started by Abraham and Sarah. So, for this category of encountering Christ through the Sacraments, the element I chose is a sphere, which depicted for me a core, as well an unending journey.
“Times of great joy” was the theme of my second category. Looking over those instances in my life, I realized that all of those times were shared with other people, in communion. The element I chose to depict this was the cross. We are meant to live in a community sharing our lives, and in doing so, we are there for others and they are there for us. Sometimes you carry the cross, sometimes the cross carries you. So, the second element of my image of praise to God was a cross.
I didn’t have time to think of an element for the third category in which I had grouped all of the “other” times I had encountered God. I’ve had experiences in my life that are very real to me where I feel God has reached me in ways that go beyond what I can experience through my five senses. I hesitate to tell people about these experiences because they seem so “out of this world”. I struggled thinking of an element that would depict these experiences and I ran out of time.
It was after the session of imaginary prayer through which Fr Satish led us that the missing element appeared to me. The element that I was looking for was the shape of the sun. The shape of the sun has personal significance to me, and it is a good representation of the “other” encounters I’ve had with God. Those experiences seem so “out there”, as does the sun. It is so very far away, yet its rays are strong enough to penetrate our atmosphere, bringing light and life.
And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. The beautiful Monstrance, which is what I was looking at on the altar, actually had all the elements I wanted to incorporate into my pictorial Magnificat. The Monstrance has a glass core surrounded by a sunburst, with a cross on top. It is the vessel used to hold and display the Eucharist for adoration. The Monstrance is like Mary, Mary who leads us to Christ, Mary who continued the journey, Mary who surrendered her will for all, Mary who brought forth the Word made Flesh.
Although I knew I could never come up with words for a song of praise to God, I attempted to come up with an image. I was still working on this image but ran out time. I was led through imaginative prayer to the Holy Family where I asked God to help me surrender to his will. The prayer was over. I opened my eyes, looked up and there is was, my Magnificat, my image of praise, made real in the beautiful Monstrance. Wow.