Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Celestial, exquisite, magnificent are the first three words that come to mind when I read this book. The author invites the reader into two types of reading, On the one hand, it is conventionally written text of words. On the other hand, the reader is invited into a particular type of graphic storytelling called the icon. This storytelling is done through images, colors and shapes. The storytelling offered here wants the reader to engage with the story, in response to what you see as you ponder the image. The icons engage us first visually, then our emotions, our mind and our imagination.
An icon is an invitation to enter into a conversation with its story that touches our hearts and souls. The graphic story is written to draw us through it, as though through a window, into the mystery of a person, such as Jesus, or Mary, or a saint. The distinguishing element of an icon’s pictorial storytelling is that it is religious specifically, in this case, Christian. Christians read these stories as an exercise in prayer, a conversation through the icon with God. They find a place where the reader comes to God and discovers God’s coming to him. In the presence of an icon, we are invited to practice that wonderful insight of St. Benedict, “to listen with the ear of your heart.”
The icons presented with commentary in this book invite the reader into a graphic biography. It is an invitation to ponder, to imagine to question, to listen, to sit and think, or just sit. Here you will find an invitation to pray, to open your heart and mind to the Father through the Son in the Spirit. The Life of Christ as written in icons is a creative work of a talented and faithful iconographer. Both as a person of faith and as an artist, Mary Jane Miller is one who brings to this ancient art form both a deep understanding of and love for the icon tradition of eastern Christianity and a modern sensibility of expression. What you will find in this collection of icons and her commentary are visual writings of the story of Jesus.
Throughout the text there are meditations from the author who created the icons. In the meditation of the author on page 16, the author states: ”Knowledge of God is made visible in Jesus the Man, bit Mary birthed the body in whom Christ is revealed.”(See icon page 14). If there is a book the reader wants to invest in once in his/her lifetime, this is the book. I felt tangibly mesmerized by what I was seeing and reading. I thank God for giving Mary Jane Miller this wonderful gift.