The Power of a Mysterious Image

My friend Brian K. Kravec wrote this great column at CatholicMom.com, sharing insights that are treasures of evangelization. Brian writes:

“There are times that a picture really can inspire a thousand words of great discussion and dialogue about our Faith. A sacred image or statuary that represents our Catholicism is an open invitation to friendly conversation, effective evangelization and conversion of hearts beginning in the comfort of your own home.”

Brian continues:

“The art, images and statuary in my home can inspire great talk of contemporary artists Zamy Steynovitz and Thomas Kinkade as well as good wine, fine bourbon and classic movies. But look around some more and we’ll talk about the ultimate act of love, obedience and sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the Pope, the martyrdom of St. Maximillian Kolbe, the mysticism of St. Pio, the charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Divine Mercy, the Holy Rosary and consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”

I love how true these words are, on the priclessness and efficacy that a sacred image can bring in inspiring conversation, in promoting thought, in gradually even inspiring conversion of souls. I’m glad that among the various examples in his home Brian cites “the mysticism of St. Pio.”

I used to carry a prayer card of Padre Pio in my wallet, with a photograph of the holy manStigmataPadrePio wherein his stigmata was prominently displayed. At times, I was glad by how easily the image could spark conversation. I’ve had encounters where I show the Padre Pio image to friends, particularly secular friends, and the very mention and notice of the stigmata invokes such fascination.

So many in our culture have no idea that such phenomena even exist, the possibility of a modern person being supernaturally marked with the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This often leads to discussions about the significane of the stigmata, especially the interior dimensions of a life of holiness — when the stigmata are authentic — wherein the mystic becomes the living image of the crucified Christ through their sacred life.

When I’d show people that Padre Pio prayer card it inspired thought, because this simple object was able to convey that the supernatural is not a construction of the past but a burning reality of the present. Souls need to see that: the fact that God is, not was; the fact that the miraculous is a reality of modern life; the fact that there is still some beauty and mystery left in the world which dry rationalism cannot fully explain, but which points to the transcendent dimension of existence, to the sublime: to God.

Try it. Every moment should and, in many ways, can be an opportunity for evangelization, for speaking about the beautiful mysteries of our faith. If you have many visitors in your home, put up a sacred image or statue which may inspire conversation or simple curiosity about the mystery that is being depicted. What power there is in an image. Some have had experiences of God by simply encountering a magnificent work of art. Divine beauty operates through art, the spiritual through the physical.

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