"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Black Lives are Sacred Day 8: Ferguson Mother of God by Mark Dukes

On Saturday, traditionally associated with Mary,we will examine Black images of Mary, who as a middle Eastern Jew was much closer to actual black women than me and the other European women she is usually depicted as. The most powerful is Mark Duke's icon of "Our Lady of Ferguson and All those Killed by Gun Violence" so we will start with her. Purchase.

Sojourners reported: Fr. James Martin, S.J., a Jesuit priest and popular author and speaker, shared July 9 on Facebook an icon of “Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence.”

In the icon, Mary is depicted as a black woman with her hands up. Where her womb would be is a small black silhouette of Jesus in a similar posture, but in the crosshairs of a gun.

The posture, while a clear reference to the “Hands up, don’t shoot” slogan birthed in Ferguson, Mo., in response to police violence, is also the “orans” position of prayer, as Fr. Martin explained. Orans, which in Latin means “praying,” is a position that designates pleading or supplication to God.

“Essentially an icon is an invitation to prayer and meditation,” Fr. Martin wrote.

“Our Lady prays for all who are targeted by gun violence: African-Americans, the poor and marginalized, and police officers.

All are her children.

All are our brothers and sisters.

Let us ask Our Lady to pray for us.”

Global Christian Worship has an extended, insightful, prayerful meditation on the details of the art. A sample:

At first viewing, the icon overtly speaks of death through the image of the gun crosshairs. But through closer examination, icon study and meditation, it becomes obvious that it is actually an icon of Hope.… and specifically, of Hope in the Incarnation (”Emmanuel”), Passion, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus the Victor.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbolizing His compassion and love for the whole world - even for His enemies - even for those who killed Him - still beats whole and undimmed, and will continue to do so even after the boy in the middle of the is shot. Death does not have the last word. “Hope in Christ” is the last word portrayed in this powerful icon.

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