Gazing at an image crafted by a true master who intended to open us up into mystery can, over time, produce great fruits.
For example, the 6th c. Byzantine icon of The Christ Pantocrator reveals two attitudes, in the two halves of His face. On the right side He holds the Gospels and His attitude is that of the severe Judge whom nothing shall escape. On the left, His hand blesses and his face is gentle.
If this treasury of ongoing spiritual dividends is true of images made by man, how much more might it be true of images made by God?
First and foremost, we contemplate Christ Himself, the Eternal Word made flesh. The Son is the perfect invisible image of the invisible Father, begotten but not made. In His Incarnation and Birth, the Son takes His Body, made with the Virgin Mother, and becomes the perfect visible image of the invisible Father. In contemplating Him we find infinite mysteries, awesome and alluring.
Next, each one of us are images of God. Each person reflects mystery. Our fallen nature’s solitary boast, moreover, presents mystery to us in her own way, as do all the saints who beautifully reflect God in living flesh. Remember that Holy Church has given two great patrimonies to the whole human race: art and saints, which both reflect, in different media and manners, the mystery of God in His goodness, truth and beauty.
And so we come to the point of my post.
I read today a story at LifeSite about the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast it is.
The tilma has revealed many mysteries. As science advances, more and more fascinating – and hitherto unknown elements – are discovered in it, much as what is happening with the image of Mary’s crucified Son, the Shroud of Turin (which I happen to accept as being authentic).
Today, however, I read something that didn’t so much involve discovery of new depths in the tilma through technology, as through gazing.
The writer, Pete Baklinski, gazed at the image of Mary in the tilma. It eventually occurred to him that one side of her face looked happy, pleased, while the other side looked said.
The left side
The right side
He explored Mary’s message at Guadalupe and found themes of both joy and sadness. He suspects that her image means to reflect both.
You might go over there and read the whole account.