I’m one of those Catholics who sometimes has to be chased down and made to understand a thing. It was that way with the Infant of Prague, who now sits above my desk to give me reassurance and keep me company on the rare occasions when I miss working in an office with other people, and was also the way with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which I always “kind of liked,” but which really began to make sense to me when I saw it detached from the usual imagery.
In both cases, with the Infant, and with the Sacred Heart my understanding began because they were stalking me:
Last year, it was the Infant of Prague. For months, wherever I turned, there he was — as a bookmark in an old Bible; on the funeral card of an elderly friend; even in the bakery, above the cash register. I was feeling hunted by the Infant of Prague and did not understand why, until I finally gave in and purchased a small Infant for my office. Now, every day I look up at him on the high shelf as I do my work, and I feel strangely comforted and “kept company.” I talk to him when work is not going well, seeking out his support. I sit back with coffee when I need a break and study his molded, regal robes — the orb topped by his cross in one hand, his other hand held up in a sign of peaceful blessing, the reassuring crown of his kingship — and he provides a strong counterweight to the distressing headlines I read all day in my job. He helps to quiet my mind when it is racing, and to bring a godly perspective to each day.
“He’s got the whole world in his hands,” after all! And…
The reason I knew enough to pay attention to the Infant when he began to show up all around me was because the previous year the very same thing had happened with the Sacred Heart of Jesus…I began to feel stalked by the Sacred Heart, in unusual artworks that first grabbed my attention and then pulled me in; they made me sit up and study the image with new eyes. I saw a crude, but beautiful, image of the Heart nailed to a tree; another was drawn in a raw manner such as one might see in New Orleans — bright, jagged colors surrounding the Heart and pulsing out from it. Separated from the soft-focus images of Christ, the boldness of the Sacred Heart came through to me in surprising and instructive ways. One night, pondering this now-enthroned heart as painted by a gifted friend, I wrote in my journal:“…Nothing is safe or pure. Everyone will have a turn in the crucible. But the Sacred Heart is a self-immolation, never consumed. It is there, in the crucible with us. What is there, then, to fear?”
You can read the whole thing, here. And when you do, take a look around, everyday, and see how the Holy Spirit may be putting saints and devotions in your way, to help you find your way.