The commentary of the cover

Mission: The Apostles’ Prime Vocation by Pierre-Marie Dumont

This scene graces one of Canterbury Cathedral’s great ­stained-glass windows which form what is commonly known as the “Poor Man’s Bible.” The aim of these windows was to narrate sacred history in luminous images for the benefit of the illiterate and the poor—those with no access to illustrated manuscripts yet who, according to the Lord, were more apt to grasp the deep message of the parables than the wise and the learned. Executed around 1180, this stained glass is typical of the French Gothic style while still retaining archaic elements, such as the flow of garments that echoes Romanesque and Byzantine artistic traditions. It was partially reconstructed in the 19th century by brilliant restorers who were such skillful “forgers” that top experts today cannot definitively distinguish original elements from later restorations. The viewer is struck by the catechetical harmony of the composition and the poses of the figures: when the Apostles, called to be fishers of men, trustingly follow the Lord’s instructions, the missionary catch is so abundant that other disciples must come to their aid to haul in the fruits of their efforts (Lk 5:11).
Could we pose the question of mission in such a simple way today? We ought to be able to. Yet it’s hard to fish for anything in the midst of a storm.
Caught in the tempest of postmodern times, the barque of the Church today seems in danger of sinking, with waves of scandal, hedonism, distraction, and relativism already crashing upon it. It is now the urgent mission of the faithful, united in one voice with the successors of the Apostles, to rouse Jesus with the clamor of their prayer: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). Then, there will be great calm. Then, once again, the nets will be cast into deep water.

Pierre-Marie Dumont

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, stained glass, 12th c., Canterbury Cathedral, England. © Sonia Halliday Photo Library