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Our Lady the Teacher

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ZPCJ501
Personalized holy card
30 piece minimum.

$0.35


packages, =

cards
$18.50

Size (in inches):

3 x 5

Item Details:

This original icon, written by Rev. Jack Shrum, presents an image of Mary as mother and teacher. She is pictured seated at table instructing her son in the Scriptures, handing on the faith of their ancestors, a symbol for what happens each day in the Church at the celebration of the Eucharist. Rev. Jack Shrum, a native of Billings, Montana, has lived in the Seattle area since 1988. He studied theology for seven years at Mount Angel Seminary, where he also had the opportunity to study iconography under Br. Claude Lane, O.S.B.

Icon holy cards are 3" x 5", a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message.

Image Origins

Our Lady the Teacher is an original composition written by Rev. Jack Shrum, based on a drawing by his teacher and mentor Br. Claude Lane, OSB, for St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Tacoma, Washington. Since the parish operates a large school as one of its principal ministries, an image of Mary as Teacher was deemed appropriate. Mary, mother and teacher, is seated at table while instructing her son in the Scriptures, handing on the faith of their ancestors. This is a symbol for what happens each day in the Church at the celebration of the Eucharist: our mother the Church teaches us the faith of our ancestors through the Word of God, Jesus Christ, who in this icon meekly receives the teaching of his mother.

Theology and Symbolism

Not merely the figures, but the colors and composition of this icon tell a story. The luminous red of Mary’s garment symbolizes the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus, the Word of God, came down from heaven and assumed our flesh and blood. Mary, always open to the will of God the Father, welcomed the opportunity to be the conduit through which our Lord and Savior would be born into the world. Red is moreover the color of the blood shed by Christ in his passion and death, as foretold in the Scriptures. Mary’s blue tunic, symbolic of Divine Wisdom, is visible at her wrist. The same hue, figuring more prominently in the background of the icon, represents the Wisdom of God of which Solomon speaks, “Simply I learned about her, and ungrudgingly do I share — her riches I do not hide away; for to men she is an unfailing treasure; those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God…” (Wisdom 7:13-14). Mary lovingly shares this Wisdom, this gift that she has received from God, with Jesus and with us. Beneath her headdress our Lady is wearing the shashmura, a traditional article of clothing seen in iconography and still worn to this day by certain Russian Orthodox sects to indicate that a woman is married or engaged to be married. The three stars on the shoulders and head of our Lady (one hidden behind Jesus’ head) signify the perpetual virginity of Mary before, during, and after the birth of Christ. Thus she is called “blessed Mary, ever-virgin.” On either side of Mary’s halo we see the Greek characters ΜΡ ΘΥ, the initials for Mary, Mother of God. Jesus is seated with his head close to Mary’s heart, indicating the intimacy of their relationship. Jesus received life and love from Mary. He is the Word made flesh, the Word of God made man to save us and free us from sin. This truth is revealed to Jesus through the course of his life in the Scriptures and in prayer, his conversations with God the Father. Jesus’ left hand, upheld in a gesture of blessing, indicates that he is he is actively receiving the teaching of his mother, and not just passively receiving the Word of God; he is actively responding to this truth which he himself embodies. Jesus is clothed in a garment of gold and pale green. The gold recalls that realm of heaven from which he came and the goal toward which we are all directed by this icon. The halos also represent heavenly splendor. The green of his garment is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and truth, ever-present with Jesus in his ministry. These colors are echoed in the border surrounding the image. The neck of Jesus’ garment is open and flowing in order to set free the breath of the Holy Spirit from which flows all life, all creation (Genesis 1:2, 2:7). At Jesus’ head are the Greek characters IC XC, the initials for Jesus Christ. Within his halo are Greek characters that form the words I Am (only half of the characters are visible), recalling God’s revelation of himself to Moses in the burning bush, when he disclosed the name by which he is to be called. It is also an allusion to Jesus who referred to himself as “I Am” throughout the Gospel of St. John. Mary’s presence in this image conveys strength and consolation. As a mother she looks after us all, desiring to teach us as she taught her son. May she enlighten us for years to come. Our Lady the Teacher, pray for us.


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