The commentary of the cover

The Light Shines in the Darkness by Pierre-Marie Dumont

Once again the cover of your Magnificat features a work by Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674), the most French of painters, in the sense that he was at the same time both an inspiration for and an interpreter of the golden age of spirituality, the “Grand Siècle” of souls, an unrivaled period in French history. Take time to linger in contemplation of the prime object of his Adoration of the Shepherds. You can be sure that giants of the Faith—such as Saints Vincent de Paul, Louis Grignion de Montfort, and John Eudes, Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Oratorian Fathers Pierre de Bérulle and Charles de Condren, Sulpician Father Jean-Jacques Olier, and Blaise Pascal—all joined in this adoration. You are in good company! Enter into their sense of transcendence, by letting yourself be enfolded, like the Child Jesus, in the wholly otherworldly blue of the Virgin Mary’s cloak. Then come right back down to earth, for this is where the divine event takes place. Let yourself be guided by the hand of Saint Joseph, that gnarled hand of a laborer, a carpenter, a hand that always makes the right gesture. Stay on earth to adore what this hand points out to the shepherds: the true light, which enlightens everyone by coming into the world (Jn 1:9).

And indeed, the light of this Child rips through the darkness, illuminating Mary and Joseph. Be among those who have accepted this light (cf. Jn 1:11) and allowed themselves to be enlightened by it. Admire the face of the Mother of God, a perfectly illuminated face, without shadow, the face of one who is no longer a girl but a beautiful lady, our Lady. Like her, remain with your hand ever on your heart, that is, close to God, entrusting to him all the events of your existence—in this case, your joy, a joy that exceeds this world. Finally, in the color of Joseph’s cloak, ponder your human condition: brownish-yellow is the color of Original Sin, of human weakness, the color of the dust from which we come and to which we are doomed to return. But suddenly, here, this earthy yellow shines like gold, as though our human nature were inhabited by a resplendent light, a divine light. And so it is! 

 

Pierre-Marie Dumont

The Adoration of the Shepherds (detail, c. 1645), Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674), Wallace Collection, London, UK. © Dist. RMN-GP / The Trustees of the Wallace Collection.