In August 2015 I was invited to deliver three keynote presentations at the National Catholic Women’s League Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. This event has been the highlight of my professional career, being surrounded by almost 1,000 women of faith whose personal witness to resilience and hope for the Church in Canada is an inspiration for all Catholic women. The theme for the convention was “One Heart One Voice One Mission.” The CWL executive chose an icon written by Dr. Matthia Langone, “The Recognition” to be used by the prayer companions of the Catholic Women’s League during the two-year term of Past President, Barbara Dowding.
I was blessed to see and “read” the original print as it was on display during the national convention. Having a great devotion to Mary, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the icon and the great intimacy expressed in the embrace of Mary and Elizabeth, showing how their encounter was anointed by the Holy Spirit. This mutual “recognition” of the presence of the Spirit in the other and in their children reminds us of the great joy we experience when we encounter a person filled with the Holy Spirit. Their presence feeds us, consoles us and reassures us that we are known with a great intimacy. There is a familiar resemblance among those who are filled and led by the Spirit. I am blessed to have encountered so many Spirit filled women whom I call friends and sisters. Dr. Langone is among them.
Soon after admiring the original of “The Recognition” I noticed the author/painter, Dr. Matthia Langone, was present selling prints and gift cards. I rushed over to her display table and purchased a print of the Recognition. I told her how much I loved the icon and how my devotion to Mary and her intercessory prayers have sustained me throughout the years. Several months after the convention I emailed her to order more prints so that they could be given as gifts. Our email correspondence grew into a long distance friendship, writing short messages of encouragement and reassuring one another of prayer and mutual admiration. We have spoken on the phone once and within ten minutes I concluded I was speaking with a person who knows God very intimately, who understands the deep spiritual insight revealed in the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, the Visitation. I was experiencing my own “encounter/visitation” with a woman who is filled with the Holy Spirit and knows the power of God’s love revealed in this holy encounter between two of God’s cherished daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Her insight into the exchange between them, how their words were anointed by the Holy Spirit, how Elizabeth knew Mary with great intimacy, how they encouraged one another, inspiring Mary’s Magnificat, touched me very deeply. Dr. Langone’s icon is a celebration of this encounter, of the power of God’s love and the power of Spirit-filled friendships. Thank you, Matthia for the strength of your witness and for the gift of this icon, a gift I carry with me to show others the fruits of Spirit filled encounters.
Please visit Dr. Langone’s website to see more of her beautiful work and for the purchase of prints: http://www.wayoftheicon.com/blog/painting-to-be-shown-at-national-convention