Rome, 20 November 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!
The year 2020, marked with so much suffering, anxiety, and fear and the prognosis of an enormous increase in poverty throughout the world, particularly because of COVID-19, is drawing to an end. Before us, the new year 2021 is dawning.
In the present situation of distress, as in all the moments of our lives that are accompanied by suffering with various degrees of intensity, there is Somebody who lives in us, whose Spirit fills every corner of our being. He is with us always, wherever we go, whatever we do, every second of the day, waiting to come forward when we let Him. He is always ready to bring us hope where there is no hope, peace where there is no peace, meaning where there is no meaning, renewed faith where our faith has faltered, love where hatred takes possession of us. His name is Jesus.
We know that the person of Jesus is at the heart of Vincent de Paul’s identity as a Mystic of Charity and of the Vincentian charism and spirituality. Jesus is the reason for our lives and the person whose way of thinking, feeling, talking, and acting becomes our life goal, so His proximity to those who suffer is the model for Vincent’s way of life and that of those who follow him. Never turning away from situations of suffering and those who were wounded, Vincent saw Jesus in those who are poor and those who are poor in Jesus…
(Fr. Mavric invites us to reflect on a 15th century Russian icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod, by Andrei Rublev)
To help us reflect more deeply on Jesus present in what is disfigured, this Advent I would like to propose a meditation on the icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod …Henri Nouwen, in his meditation on the icon, mentions the terrible state in which it was found.
When I first saw the icon, I had the distinct sense that the face of Christ appears in the midst of great chaos. A sad but still beautiful face looks at us through the ruins of the world… To me, this holy face expresses the depth of God’s immense compassion in the midst of our increasingly violent world. Through long centuries of destruction and war, the face of the Incarnate Word has spoken of God’s mercy, reminded us of the image in which we were created, and called us to conversion. Indeed, it is the face of the Peacemaker.
[Fr. Mavric continues:] It is precisely the present state of the icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod, Jesus’s damaged and ruined face, which I would like to propose for this year’s Advent meditation…
To see the face of Jesus is to see the face of God and of all humanity.
- What do I see?
- I see a very damaged image.
- At the same time, I see the tenderest human face.
- I see eyes that penetrate the heart of God as well as the heart of every human being…
(See image and full text of Fr. Mavric’s reflection at: https://famvin.org/en/2020/11/20/advent-letter-2020-by-fr-tomaz-mavric-cm/)
- CONTEMPLATION AND COMPASSION BECOME ONE
On Sunday, 6 December 2020, the worldwide Vincentian Family will gather virtually for a prayer service, “One in hope for the Poor.” I invite all members of the Vincentian Family, as well as all others who would like to join us, to this moment of prayer. Please share this invitation within your own branches, as well as among your family members and friends.
Reflection on and contemplation of the icon of the Savior of Zvenigorod, so intertwined with the theme of the prayer service, can help us to participate even more deeply in the prayer encounter.
May the Advent experience lead us to the inner joy of Christmas.
Your brother in Saint Vincent,
Tomaž Mavrič, CM
I see the face of the real Jesus. The face as it would appear in His native land. Thankfully, I do not see the White person’s image.
We all need something different. Thats the result of my contemplation of the icon of the face of Christ posted on this website to open the time of Advent. i confess that
I’m not an icon-lover yet I try to educate myself about icons. I listen and read and try to appreciate what others see. I’ve learned that they are written, not drawn as other art may be.
I see a sorrowful, even maudlin, face that leaves me wondering how this could be the choice post for this beautiful season. it is a season of hope and dawning light and the still presence of an unfathomable God who comes with dignity and simplicity even though poor with no home or bed to lie in. I would’ve preferred a hopeful image to begin this holy season. I search but cannot find the tender look of compassion, rather, i see great need and sorrow. I say, be of good heart, have courage, look, our God is coming! God is here!