Friday, 31 July 2009


"For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well."

(Ps. 139. 13,14)

God has made us physical beings, with physical emotions, including our sexual ones. And he delights in his handy-work, seeing it to be very good. He has made us in his own image and likeness, with the capacity to know and love him and each other. Through his grace he raises us beyond our human limitations, so that we can share his own life and happiness.

The Son of God has shown so much love and respect for us human beings that he has become one of us. He could not have paid us people of flesh and blood a greater compliment!

God, who is love itself, blesses our love each other. By loving each other we discover something of what God is like and together draw closer to him.

The Bible frequently uses the love between husband and wife to express that between God and his people, Christ and his Church.

Through the sacrament of marriage this becomes a means to holiness. St. Paul reminds us that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Today's picture expresses the goodness of human love and affection

The 'Y' formed by the hands expresses YAHWEH'S 'YES' to human love, as he holds the couple lovingly in his hands.

'Y' could also express the joy of their love and affection for each other, as they exclaim:


Isidore O.P.

Next's week picture and reflection are about sin entering the world

Friday, 24 July 2009

TELL ME 'Y' -1

I’m fascinated by the image of God, getting his hands dirty, as a potter fashioning man from the clay of the earth. This idea is frequently used in the Bible, and especially in the Book of Genesis.
This was the inspiration for my first picture, in which I set about painting two hands shaping a half formed man. He’s dark since he’s in the process of being created from wet clay, and is being drawn upwards to share God’s life and happiness.
After painting my picture I hung it up in the cloisters of our priory at Spode Conference Centre in the heart of England. I deliberately didn’t provide a title, so that visitors would be free to make of it what they liked. And it was intriguing to hear their different interpretations. To my delight a few developed my line of thought in ways that had not occurred to me. And many years of reflection have led me to see more in my picture than I had originally intended.
I realised that the hands formed a ‘Y’ shape, which could have several meanings. It could symbolise ‘YAHWEH.’ That’s the sacred name with which God identified himself when he revealed himself to Moses from the burning bush. ‘Yahweh’ literally means, ‘I am the God who really is,’ as distinct from false deities, who are nothings. This name implies God’s abiding, saving presence among us.
Further reflection led me to see that the ‘Y’ shape could also represent ‘YES’ and asked the questions, ‘WHY?’ and ‘WHAT?
So in the present picture of the Divine Potter creating Man:

The hands form a ‘Y’ composition as Yahweh draws the half-formed clay man upwards from the slime of the earth.
The ‘Y’ asks the questions:
1. ‘WHAT is this?’
Answer: ‘The creation of man.
2. ‘WHY?
Answer: ‘YAHWEH'S creative love,
as YAHWEH says, ‘YES’ to our creation,’ seeing it to be ‘very good.’
And we reply, ‘YES’ to our creator

Gradually I realised that I could develop the ‘Y’ shaped hands composition of the Divine Potter picture to express different stages in salvation history. These, I thought could be used as a new way of preaching, and as a springboard for meditation. So, excitedly, I painted the following pictures, which you will be seeing, together with short reflections. I would love to know whether you think my approach works.

Isidore O.P.

Next week : “It’s good to be human!”

Friday, 17 July 2009


The scariest drive I’ve ever had! I was in a kind of ‘on and off’ conversation with the fellow behind the wheel. And then I became aware that I had lost all connection with him. He was talking to someone else on his cell phone. Here was I wondering how he could give his attention at one and the same time to what was actually happening on the road, to what might easily happen, as well as conversing with someone in the electronic ‘out there,’ when, to my horror, his second cell phone chimed in. Wonder of wonders, he was able to manage to hold two conversations while driving his vehicle at a considerable pace. I was filled with awe since I’m hard pushed to manage more than one thing at a time, and mostly not very successfully. I was also filled with fear. True enough, I was strapped in with the required safety belt, but, in the circumstances, what kind of security was that?

For my part, I’ve needed my full, undivided, concentration to motor along our twisting narrow mountainous roads in Grenada, with a sheer drop to the sea on one side, and a steep rock-face on the other. Nowhere to go but over - and down, down, down or into - and smash, full-stop. The on-coming traffic takes possession of the road, of both sides as well as the middle as it belts along straight at you. Dexterity of the highest order, supreme concentration and very actual grace alone ensure the possibility of survival.

And now my imagination chokes. By contrast with all these limitations of mine (and of others, did they but realize it) at one and the same time our Heavenly Father with infinite wisdom and love is receiving and answering literally millions of prayers uttered in dozens of languages and concerning a myriad of different intentions. Together with this he is loaded with the detailed exercise of governance over the whole of creation.

I am overwhelmed as I think of the mind and the will that is God. To the skeptic it’s all very simple. No problem! ‘If you can’t understand it, if you can’t prove it, just be reasonable. Don’t accept it.’ We who believe can’t go this way. When we profess that Almighty God is mystery we’re talking not only about his power. We’re talking about his capacity to give his undivided, specific, attention to the minutiae of everything, absolutely everything.

MY WAY is definitely not GOD’S Way. Admitting this is the beginning of wisdom, perhaps the totality as well.

Peter Clarke O.P

For the next seven weeks Isidore will post a series of pictures, which he has painted, together with his reflections. Your comments on this experiment would be especially welcome. Do see what you make of the pictures before you read his commentary.