Introduction: Advent and Lenten Meditations

"In 1 Cor. 15, 24-26 St. Paul depicts the enemies of Christ as battling against Christ, reigning on high. In reality, however, these enemies are only able to persecute the members of Christ's Body still on earth. They battle against the Head, but can only inflict harm on the body. A clear case is Acts 9, 4 f, where the risen Jesus states that Saul is persecuting him, whereas Saul was bent on the murder of the disciples of the Lord (v. 1):
Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
And he said: Who are you, Lord?
And he said: I am Jesus, whom are you persecuting.
It is worthy of note that the personal name of Jesus was used. Saul persecutes Jesus in person when he persecutes the members of Jesus. Hence, in 1 Cor. 14, 24 ff, St. Paul has the same counterpart of Head and Members in mind, a doctrine which runs throughout his letters, even though he does not mention both angles of it explicitly in every passage.

Does the same hold good for Mary? Is there a similar (though not identical) unity between mary and the Church as between Christ and his members? In speaking of Mary, the sacred writer would also have the Church in mind. And, in parallel to the above passage concerning Christ, the battle of Satan would rage (in Rev. 12) against the person of Mary, although in actuality affecting the Church on earth."

The Woman Clothed with the Sun
By Bernard LeFrois, S.V.D.

All the meditations for Advent and Lent came out of commissions or retreats. The Lenten meditations were originally printed weekly in the Los Angeles Diocesan paper. The Advent meditations were written and prepared for a retreat I gave this past November to Priests in the southern part of the States. If you listen to the media, you might think that the number of priests accused of abuse is over 70%. The actual number is 4%. Yet all priests now carry this burden and feel the immense pain deeply. I was aware before the retreat, that priests need to hear the good news, and for me icons are always Good News.

Every once in a while someone will tell me, "Father, I like your icons, but I prefer the old ones." I jokingly respond, "Well, if you wait 400 years or so, mine will be old too…" That is if God will them to last inside the Church's treasure house of spiritual gifts.

Since the arrival of the art of photography, the arguments around icons have lessened dramatically. In other words, no one seriously confuses a picture with the actual person, but most people carry pictures of their loved ones in wallets or purses. The Orthodox Church has always made radical claims about the presence a true icon brings. And these claims do continue to be a stumbling block, and in some cases a scandal for people. Although I am a Roman Catholic, during my six year apprenticeship as an iconographer, I gradually found myself falling in love with the profound spirituality of what is asked of an iconographer, and of the Holy Orthodox Church. Some people think I fell right over the edge. I guess I would compare it to a man who marries a person of another Christian denomination. He remains in his own home church, yet through his love for her, attends her church also.

I hope these meditations bring you closer to the love that God has for you.

Father William Hart Dominic McNichols
14 December 2002 +
San Juan de la Cruz


Fr. McNichols will conducted Priests' Retreat in Nashville on November 19th, 2002. These are the notes and images shown during this retreat. He has placed his meditations here on the web to help us all prepare for the Coming of Christ at Christmas with the visual meditations on Icons and verbal meditations from his retreat notes.


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Page Last Updated: January 22, 2003