“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” St. Francis of Assisi
- to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate. (Dictionary.com)
Each day before I begin my prayers, I “consecrate” myself to Mother Mary. Using a modified and modern formula of devotion begun centuries ago by St. Louis Marie de Montford, I give to Mary permission to use my prayers, graces and merits as she sees fit to “bring the greatest possible glory to God.”
If I do this faithfully and with true intent, it means that one day I shall stand before God with nothing to recommend myself, reliant only upon the fact that I did my best to come to Jesus through Mary, to console him on his cross and to present myself in judgement in the hope that God’s Divine Mercy reigns.
Doing this daily will perhaps not make me a saint. But not doing it means that I will have failed to set apart my time of communion with God through prayer and reflection with the sacred reverence it deserves.
In my home I have a personal prayer altar. Among other things, upon it sits a Divine Mercy image of Jesus, a devotional candle, and my rosary and chaplet box. My favorite Marian statue sits adjacent on a bookshelf. The chair across has above it my Great-Aunt Mickey’s gold Corpus, while other crosses emblazoned with words of prayer hang beside it.
Above all that is Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss.” Painted between 1907 and 1908, it is one of the Viennese painter’s most popular works.
Created in styles reflective of both Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts periods, it is seen as an intimate moment between two lovers that borders on the erotic because of its use of gold and silver leaf overlays and because of the paintings that had just proceeded it, his “Vienna Ceiling” series.
But what if rather than a profane moment of lust and love, Klimt were painting a sacred one? What if – instead of the mythological story of Apollo and Daphne, wherein she spurns his lover’s advances to turn into a laurel tree – “The Kiss” represented something more scriptural?
What if it is more “Song of Songs” rather than “Bullfinch’s Mythology?”
At any rate, it is interesting to note that shortly before he painted it, Klimt had visited the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, and took his inspiration from the use of gold and silver leaf overlay from the early Byzantine mosaics he saw there.*
Its reverence for art is one of the things I love about the Catholic Church. It is reflective of its many intricacies and the 2,000 and more years of its history.
But sanctification has been part of the Church from its earliest practices. It is in the Eucharist, the Mass, Adoration and other myriad practices that make the Church original, holy and unique.
It is a religion of sacred spaces found in great cathedrals and adobe California missions, on the Altar at Church or in the places we create them in our homes.
But most of all it is a place we create within our hearts to honor Christ, his redemptive sacrifice and our devotion to it.
Perhaps we will not all live up to the ideal of sainthood.
But we all can be sanctified.
Photos by Cheryle Johnson
* Information on Gustav Klimt From Wikipedia