The commentary of the cover

Meekness Shall Save The World! by Pierre-Marie Dumont

Painted in 1923 by Maurice Denis, at first glance one might think this a representation of an angel kneeling in adoration be­fore the Christ Child cradled in the arms of the Virgin Mary. In the lower right, lambs flock to him, having already recognized in the Babe’s babblings the voice of their Good Shepherd. Yet the artist’s intent here was to illustrate the third beatitude: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:5). But, on canvas just as in real life, meekness, or gentleness, is altogether more dif­ficult to express than violence! And so Maurice Denis found no better expression of human meekness than that shown by a child toward his mother in response to her meekness, her gentleness to him. And, more precisely, he found no more beautiful illustra­tion of the eschatological dimension of human gentleness—the image of God in man that abides for eternal life—than that with which Mary Immaculate favored her Child-God in response to the meekness with which her God-Child favored his Immaculate Mother. This illustration of the beatitude Blessed are the meek reveals itself at that very moment when an angel descends from heaven to bow down before her in worship. From the first, Mary presents to him Jesus, the one perfectly gentle Man, meek and humble of heart. And there we are, at the bottom right of the painting, the humble flock who, in contemplation of her, become lambs, models of meekness….

But make no mistake: the meekness incarnate in Jesus and which will spring up in us unto eternal life is a constant battle, which can be extremely difficult for certain characters—for impetuous types, of course, but above all for the weak, for true meekness is revealed only in active service of others. And to withstand the in­evitable conflicts brought by human relationships, meekness must be armed with firmness.

How can we manage to foster meekness in our relations with those close to us? Simply by being, each day, a little more patient, pleasant, tactful, well-meaning. The promise to the meek that they shall inherit the Promised Land is a fruit of the fulfillment of the Father’s benevolent plan for humanity. Therefore, let us start here and now to put into practice that meekness that was the rule of life for the Holy Family, and will be for ever in the communion of saints.

 

 

Mater amabilis, or Blessed are those who mourn (1923), Maurice Denis (1870–1943), Private Collection. © Olivier Goulet, catalogue raisonné Maurice Denis.