God Is In the Still Small Voice
release date: 2009
Hand painted porcelain and plastic
This is one on my favorite Precious Moments pieces, and I have used it at women's workshops to talk about Baptism and renewal. It's so much easier to explain abstract concepts when you can point to a concrete, visual representation, especially a visual image that everyone can relate to such as walking along the beach, listening to the sea. That kind of rich, archetypal image speaks deeply to people and forms a bridge to a fuller understanding.
As I said, this figurine is primarily concerned with Baptism. First of all, the free standing water and wave image reminds us of the sea washing up onto the shore. The sea has a very specific meaning. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that "Water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, but the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolism, Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death." (1220) The sea is seen as the "sea of sin," the place that drags us down to death, where sudden and severe storms can spring up and overwhelm us. This was one reason that Scripture records Jesus' miracle in calming the stormy sea. His ability to control the storm was not just to show his power over nature, thus revealing himself as God, but also to show his power over sin, especially sin that can destroy and kill us. In the New Creation, Revelation tells us that "the sea was no more." (Rev 21:1) Sin and death will be eradicated, not just spiritually but also in the physical world.
The figurine of the young girl holding the shell to her ear emphasizes the path to life. The particular shell she is holding is a conch shell, which many artists have used as a symbol for eternity. This is due to the repeating spiral inside the shell, considered a visual representation of all time as well as out of time.
So the meaning here is fairly clear. Listening to the "still, small voice of God" is the way to eternal life. God has revealed in Jesus that the way to eternal life is through participation in the life of Christ, which begins with Baptism. The CCC states that "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons and daughters of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the Word." (1213)
So the question remains, how can we find and hear the "small, still voice of God?" And for those of us already Baptized, what do we still need to leave behind in Egypt, as we pass through the Red Sea, on our way to the Promised Land?
Angel of Peace and Angel of Prayer
These two angels should be interpreted together, since they signify the beginning and end of Jesus’ earthly life. They act as two bookends, neatly heralding Christmas and proclaiming Easter. (An additional feature of these two ornaments is that they can be plugged into a string of Christmas lights, so they look truly angelic and filled with light!)
The Angel of Peace
The name of this lovely angel is a nod to the well-loved Christmas carol “Joy to the World,” and the white dove in her hand signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit. The working of the Holy Spirit is most evident in this angel, from her bright red dress to the dove in her hand. Even the poinsettia flowers on her wings could resemble fire, as in the tongues of fire over the heads of the disciples in the Upper Room at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit is especially important to recall at Christmas for two reasons. First, because it is through “the power of the Holy Spirit,” that Jesus was made incarnate of the Virgin Mary. The action of the Holy Spirit rendered Christ human, in the womb of Mary. Secondly, only through this same Holy Spirit, the spirit of charity, humility and love, can Christ be incarnated again in us, so that there is peace on earth, to all men of goodwill. This angel is full of movement, with both arms outstretched, eyes gazing on the dove. She reminds us of all the movements taking place, from the census dictated by Rome, to the arrival of the shepherds, to the great journey of the Three Kings. All these journeys are imitations of the one great movement, the descent of the Second Person of the Trinity to earth, to live among us as one of us. The world responded to Jesus’ descent in the massive movement of peoples in the census called by Caesar Augustus, when they returned to their ancestral homes to be counted. The birth of Christ started the whole world on the movement towards home.
The Angel of Prayer
Just as the Angel of Peace has the Christmas flower, so too, does the Angel of Prayer have a flower on her wings, the Easter lily. While the poinsettia resembles fire, the Easter lily resembles a trumpet, announcing the triumph over death, victory through Christ. Such an incredible piece of news might inspire the angel to take a more active stance, yet she is seen with hands clasped, looking up to heaven. She is in the attitude of one who prays, as her name states, not as one who is going to pronounce the Good News, or full of action and movement. She reminds us of our first duty to God in the face of such saving power – prayers of gratitude offered in thanksgiving. Only one who is steeped in a relationship with God, brought about through prayer, can incorporate Easter morning into her own soul. Prayer equips the soul for evangelization. Only then can she “go and make disciples of all the nations.” This angel reveals the attitude of a believer.