I was inspired for this painting during adoration at a weekend retreat. My original idea was to have a priest saying mass in a classroom, but it eventually evolved into this. I incorporated a lot of symbolism into this image that I am still unpacking to this day.
Motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done. It has broken me and humbled me in more ways than I thought possible. But there are moments—so many moments—when I look at my beautiful little girl and I am filled with the most incredible joy. Here is a soul that I have the privilege of journeying with and caring for, someone who calls me mama.
How great must Mary’s joy have been, to raise the Son of God? I think it must have been very great indeed!
When Thérese was a child, her older sister Leonie decided that she had outgrown some of her playthings. Before giving them away, she offered them to her younger sisters. Celine politely chose a single toy. When it came to Thérese’s turn, she grabbed the entire basket and proclaimed, “I choose all!”
This story illustrates well how this future saint approached the spiritual life. She understood that there are many degrees of holiness and she wanted the very highest degree. “My God,” she cried, “I choose all! … ‘I choose all’ that You will!”
Kolbe’s was a surprisingly difficult face to paint, with all its subtle slopes and planes, and many many hours went into this painting. But how could I expect any less than the grace to grow in perseverance when I am painting the image of a man who persisted in spreading the gospel in the midst of war, despite persecution and beatings, who willingly gave his life for a stranger, and even at the last, though he was starving, continued to praise God?