The western Ukrainian city of Lviv is
home to the Lviv School of Iconographers, a collective of women and men who are
keeping alive deep-rooted traditions, not by slavishly reproducing past forms
but by labouring with the Holy Spirit to birth twenty-first-century
This icon, titled ‘We Are Together’
is by Shadrina Katernya. It is a stunning depiction of human solidarity, not as
a humanist construction but finding its source in God. Seven human figures cleave
together in one mass, stunning colour, blue and pink and green, luminescent in
the darkness—which is, itself, set within bounds by white light—evocative of the
sevenfold Spirit of God spoken of by the prophet Isaiah and by the disciple John
stretching to describe the Revelation given him on the island of Patmos:
the Spirit of the LORD, the Spirit of
wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of power,
the Spirit of knowledge, the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
In the Ignatian inheritance,
consolation is to be moving towards the active presence of God in the world, with
growing awareness of the Mystery and in contrast to desolation, or, moving away
from the active presence of God in the world. In the darkness, deep but having
limits set upon it, we are consoled. As we gaze on the Mystery, we encounter this
sevenfold Spirit of God: are drawn to the light of God’s wisdom, which is folly
to the desolate heart; to God’s understanding, which confounds the desolate
mind; to God’s counsel, which is death to the desolate soul; to God’s power,
which is weakness to the desolate body; to be known by God, and to experience
God’s Holiness and our holiness come together naked and unashamed.
Here is solidarity, human and divine,
with every hurt that wrings the human breast.
As we gaze upon ourselves, and our
God, Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.