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God created, through me, the life-size icon of The Corpus of Christ for the 2006 Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) Women’s Conference; I was simply His willing vessel.
Years before that, however, during a Saturday morning Mass at Divine Child in Dearborn, as I was walking toward the aisle to receive the Eucharist, I suddenly heard an audible voice. It was a very loud voice of an elderly gentleman yelling out ‘Divine Mercy.’ Startled, I quickly looked up, but did not see an elderly man. In fact, no one else seemed to have heard the voice as they prayerfully kept moving towards the front of the line to receive Jesus.
I watched and listened and all I heard was the priest saying over and over again, 'The Body of Christ, The Body of Christ, The Body of Christ.' Inching along to receive Jesus, I directed my eyes downward and continued to pray. Again, I heard loudly, 'Divine Mercy.' This time I knew I wasn’t crazy! I looked up immediately and realized the voice I heard was coming from the direction of the priest, but there was no one there who fit the description of an elderly gentleman. What’s more, no one else at Mass seemed to have been disturbed by the loud voice. I’m telling you, you would have to be deaf not to hear that man yelling.
In the quiet following, all I heard was the priest repeating 'The Body of Christ, The Body of Christ, The Body of Christ' as people, including me, received the Eucharist. Trying to confirm what I heard, after Mass I asked several others, as well as the priest, if they heard anything. Each one said no. I heard that voice twice, so I wasn’t losing my mind, but I still didn’t know what to make of all this for a very long time. It happened; there’s no doubt about that! Apparently, it was just for me.
Years later, as I prepared and procrastinated to begin work on The Corpus of Christ icon, I was asked to volunteer for the AOD Men’s Conference. I heard the speaker (the same priest who was distributing the Eucharist when I heard 'Divine Mercy'), say something like, 'When Christ calls, do not delay.' That was the 'more than gentle nudge' from the Holy Spirit to break through my fear of this commitment and to get started.
I went home and began work that day. It was the Feast of the Annunciation – the day Our Lady said YES to the Body of Christ. It was also my day to say YES to the Body of Christ. As I neared completion of the icon, I kept hearing in my head over and over again, 'The Body of Christ.' It was so often and so strong that I wrote 'The Body of Christ' on the back of the icon.
In time, the 6’5' The Corpus of Christ icon was to be installed front and center in a newly built adoration Chapel. After double-checking the measurements, the icon was too large for that space and was installed on another wall of the chapel. What replaced it? A beautifully hand-painted version of The Divine Mercy by another artist. Finally, I thought, that’s what that Divine Mercy voice was all about many years ago – these two images being installed in the same adoration chapel. I was so sure, in fact, that I wrote a letter to the priest to share this story and the joy of my understanding.
But wait, there’s more. In 2010, I was commissioned to create a life-size icon of Jesus, The Divine Mercy to be placed in the sanctuary at what is now the Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy in Clinton, Twp., MI. I was asked to create an image of The Divine Mercy (The Body of Christ), for permanent installation and public veneration. The Greek word icon literally means 'image.' God truly does write straight with crooked lines. This is where the Body of Christ and Divine Mercy intersect for me: the Body of Christ was pierced on the cross, and blood and water gushed forth as a fountain of Divine Mercy for the whole world.
I believe that the ‘Divine Mercy’ I heard was God’s gift to me. I consider it a foreshadowing of my immersion into the Body of Christ. It began with approaching and receiving the Eucharist one Saturday morning, and it concluded in the creation of two life-size icons of Jesus. I will never forget that day or my total lack of understanding. I prayed to the Lord for clarification, and it came slowly over many years. But this I know: We must trust and have faith in the Lord for however long it takes to understand His will, and then in haste like Our Lady, we must go and do it. Jesus, I Trust in You!
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.