Hey you! Man! It’s not about you. It’s always about him!

san vincente by fra' bartolomeo

san vincente by fra’ bartolomeo

“Preach, O messenger of the Word, not to make a name for
yourself, but to glorify the Name of Jesus and to make
known the treasures of His Heart.” ― ‘On Holy Preaching’ by Silverstream Priory, Ireland.

THERE are many wonderful and very famous paintings and statues in Florence. San Marco Monastery, north of the river, is particularly blessed with
more than its fair share of them. But the painting that really got me, when I visited there some summers past, was this one. It’s not very famous at all and it was hard to find a reproduction to show it to you. But I found it eventually.

While I was training for the priesthood, I was sent, with Emilia and our then very young children, to Italy for two months so that we could experience the church in another culture. During any kind of training, it is usual I suppose to focus to greater or lesser extent on yourself. It is necessary to work on skills and increase
knowledge and expertise. As I walked through the streets of Florence on my way from St Mark’s Anglican Church, some street-dust miles south of San Marco, I was glad of the shade against the hot midday sun, cast by the tall, ancient Florentine architecture. Part of my mind was working, no doubt, on the sermon I would be giving the next day. It was to be my first in the city and my mentor had challenged me not to write down a single word. He had told me this would be liberating but, ever since he had said that, I’d been feeling anything but liberated!

Anyway, my mentor had also told me, when I met him for the first time, that my mission in Florence and the wider parish of Tuscany was to ‘soak this place up’! So this day I was looking forward to spending time with Fra Angelico’s Annunciation and many of the works of Renaissance art that I’d grown up with in books and on the walls of my parents’ house.

Though San Marco is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to and is literally dripping with the finest art, I kept having to return to the pointing monk.
From a massive oil canvass, the burning eyes of a seven hundred year old man of God seemed to sear into my brain, as he pointed to heaven:

“Are you lookin’ at me? Don’t look at me!

It’s not about me.

It’s not about you,

or your training, or your priesthood,

or your liberated sermons.




~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on January 29, 2014.

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