Our parish family will be full steam ahead with our Parish Priority Plan as we commence the year 2017. In fact, I would like to introduce this year at Blessed Sacrament as the Year of the Parish Priority Plan. We spent several years (2014 and 15) in the creation of the plan and the past year establishing the parish infrastructure to execute the plan. It is an exciting time for us as a parish! The vision for the plan is Creating Disciples and Living the Stewardship Way of Life. Last weekend many of you were able to participate in the blessing of the pergola at the main entrance of the church.
The pergola encloses the sacred art for our Parish Priority Plan, The Annunciation, painted by Oswald Tanner in 1898. Tanner, a Frenchmen, spent 1897 in the Middle East becoming familiar with historical religious sites. His exposure to Middle Eastern culture inspired him to paint the unconventional portrait of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Angel Gabriel is depicted as burst of yellow light, very mystical in appearance. Mary is captured with strength yet with some bewilderment at what is being asked of her. It was at this moment that Pope St. John Paul II claims that Mary became the first disciple of Jesus, “the first to whom he seems to say, follow me.”
The Annunciation image is now a window into each parishioner’s call to be a disciple, a close follower of Jesus. The way in which we are called is often mysterious and we may likely find ourselves bewildered or even confused by what the Lord is asking of us. My hope is that each of you will take time to ponder the painting, whether in the church or at the pergola, and to consider your own call to discipleship. Art is a powerful avenue to move from what is seen to what is unseen. The poet Scott Cairns captures well the power of religious art:
As windows go, these ancient gilded figures both receive our rapt attention and announce a subtle reciprocity. We look to them to apprehend a glimpse of life enduring out of time; and likewise find our own experience attended by a tranquil gaze that turns increasingly affectionate, indulgent kind.