By Kate Anderson
“Hey, I have that painting too!”
The sweet scene of Mary, Joseph, and infant Jesus in a beautiful meadow overlooked my mama’s quilt cupboard. The same image also hung sweetly in my apartment abode.
Like the heritage photos of all our loved ones, sacred art is a family tradition. From the splendid, ornate icons of our Saints and Blesseds to the simple watercolors or pencil drawn depictions of the holy who have gone before us, each piece tells a story. One can absorb endless lessons from the masterpieces we see.
Like the painting I share in common with my mama, my favorite sacred art depicts the Hidden Life of Jesus. Images of the Blessed Mother doing laundry, St. Joseph teaching Jesus to carve, or the Holy Family taking a rest while fleeing from Egypt.
In the same way, a photo of Great-Aunt Harriet’s 6th birthday party connects us to our Cloud of Witnesses; images of the Hidden Life draw us into the reality of life in Nazareth. Those 30 years of simple, ordinary family life paved the way for the sanctification of many.
A Hidden Life
After all, a hidden life is often the very place where the Lord wishes to sanctify us and make us holy.
Sometimes we despise the ordinariness of our private lives. Amid the glory of getting married, landing that job, becoming a mother, or fixing up that dream house, we still find ourselves longing for desires unattainable this side of heaven.
The simpleness of laundry, dishes, and our daily dire can be hard to bear. How did the Holy Family make their Hidden Lives so beautiful and fulfilling?
“The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life” (CCC 533).
They found Jesus in the ordinary.
Sing to the Lord
Easy for them, you may think. Mary and Joseph had to look no further than the front lawn or the kitchen table to find Jesus. But can’t we do the same? Through prayer, sacramentals, and a practiced theology of our homes, we too can find Jesus in the simplicity of our midst.
My Holy Family painting reminds me to live well my hidden life—serving, sacrificing, and rejoicing. And to sing, as the Psalmist bids, “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Sing to the LORD; bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day” (Psalm 96:1).
A New Song
That’s what we need on the threshold of this new year because the Lord is ever doing a new thing—in me, in the heart of my family, and in the world.
“Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece” (St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 2).
Let’s grab our paintbrushes and mandolins, or dish clothes and diaper bags. May the Lord make your year a beautiful one. And may you find the beauty of Jesus in your very own Hidden Life.