Take some time to stop and stare

Father Michael Sellers.
Father Michael Sellers.

Every day we are assailed by so many fleeting images from televisions, computers, tablets and mobile phones.

It can create a restlessness within us and a sense of needing to look around for new ways to be constantly occupied and entertained.

St Mary and Joseph Catholic Church, Pocklington.

St Mary and Joseph Catholic Church, Pocklington.

With so many distractions we can find difficulty concentrating on anything for a period of time.

We may realise the need to rediscover the ability to stop and stare, to appreciate something beautiful, to enjoy it and to be enriched by it.

This can affect the way we approach religion too, looking for noise and movement and constant stimulation.

We struggle to be still, to be silent, to contemplate.

This aspect of life which bring renewal of spirit is so important yet so neglected.

As an aid to being more contemplative, in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, we use icons.

They are colourful pictures of saints painted on wood panels. They draw us in to the mystery of faith which they portray.

As each church has a patron saint so each diocese has at least one.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is our main patron in the diocese of Middlesbrough and this is a famous icon portrayed in all our churches.

This icon portrays Mary holding the young child Jesus. We see the archangels Michael and Gabriel holding the Cross and nails which he will have to endure in the future.

We see Jesus frightened by the vision of his future suffering.

We see Mary holding Jesus with care and compassion and looking out of the picture with the same concern for all of her Son’s followers.

Mary wears a red tunic, as worn by virgins of the time, and a blue cloak as worn by mothers of the time.

It shows her unique place in the history of Mankind and her honoured position in the Church.

It is said that a picture speaks a thousands words.

So why not take a moment to contemplate something beautiful, discover its hidden depths and return to daily life refreshed in spirit.