Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Catholic by Grace March Column

Catholic by Grace | Image of Infant of Prague provokes a turnaround

Last spring, I wanted a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My web search yielded many images, including a few of the Infant of Prague. I made my decision on the Sacred Heart statue and placed the order, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Infant of Prague images.

Every now and then, my former Protestant bias resurfaces. It happened last spring as I studied the images of the Infant of Prague. I did not feel any affection for this devotion. Not a bit. I've learned to pause when I feel like this and try to go deeper. What was it about this image that bothered me?

The clothes. Yes, the clothes and the crown — it was all so ostentatious. It didn't fit with the Christ Child who chose to be born in a stable or the Messiah who deliberately chose His own parents from the poorest of the poor. I tried to tell myself that I was being ridiculous because, of course, Jesus is the king of kings. Perhaps the outward appearance of this little Child reflected the spiritual reality of Jesus Christ, king of heaven and earth.

Further research revealed that St. Teresa of Avila had a great devotion to the Infant of Prague. That didn't help.

But I paused because something amazing happens every time I agree to let God give me an attitude adjustment.

About that time, my youngest grandson was on my mind. He's never been baptized, and his mom (my daughter) had never settled in any church or denomination. I pray about this every time I receive the Eucharist.

I began to realize that there was a link in my mind between the Infant of Prague and my infant grandson, Omry. Every time I thought about the Infant of Prague, I felt I could entrust my grandson to the one who held the world in the palm of His divine, albeit infant, hand.

Last June, I went to our parish rummage sale. I was almost ready to pay for my items when I saw a print of the Infant of Prague. The colors were muted, the child's face -- lovely. It was different from all the images I had seen online. I muttered something and walked over to it. "I want this, too," I told the cashier. Another web search linked the print to 20th-century Italian artist Adolfo Simeone.

I keep the print in my bedroom as a reminder to pray for Omry.

Recently, I wrote about the events surrounding my granddaughter's birth -- how she was born without life signs and was oxygen-deprived for 12 additional minutes. She is home and doing well.

God is merciful, and the manifestation of that mercy has affected the entire extended family, including my prodigal daughter. She began attending RCIA. She was part of the Rite of Election a few weeks ago, and on Pentecost Sunday she will enter the Church. Omry will be baptized. Omry's little brother will be baptized soon after he is born. A series of conversions have occurred, like a line of falling dominoes.

I know the Church has many devotions, and we are given great latitude in choosing the ones we cherish most, but I am glad that I went a little deeper. I have come to love the image I discovered at a church rummage sale.

And now when I see the Adolfo Simeone print, I say a prayer of thanks.

1 comment:

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