Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima and Nagasaki ~ Yellow and Orange Mary

Let me tell you about this little icon of the Mother of God which I've owned for fifty years. It has accompanied me wherever I've traveled, been assigned or lived. It's a rough icon. Perhaps the artist was not skilled, or his materials were limited, or only the hands and faces were intended to show, the rest of the icon hidden under a metal cover called a riza

No matter - the pastel Mary in my boyhood parish church had her hands folded in prayer and she held no Infant Christ. Mary makes the most sense when she holds her Son. This orange and white Mary with her dressed-in-yellow Son, looking out from heaven's orange-framed window, got my attention at once. 

In her children's book, HIROSHIMA NO PIKA (The Flash of Hiroshima) Toshi Maruki tells of the morning of the August 6th 1945 atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima: 
Then it happened. A sudden, terrible light flashed all around. The light was bright orange - then white, like thousands of lightning bolts all striking at once. Violent shock waves followed, and buildings trembled and began to collapse.

I see in the little icon of Christ born of Mary,  God has entered our orange and white atomic world in all of its fearful horror, radiated suffering, burning wounds and black rain. God is with us in our unconsciousness.

And Jesus is dressed in yellow, the color of the sun! In color-symbology, yellow is the color of intelligence and the distribution of wisdom, spiritual maturity and inspiration. It is the color of warmth, love, generosity, peace and purity of spirit.

Among the Hebrews yellow was the color of the marriage canopy. In Christ, God is wedding himself to our exhausted and unfaithful world. In this icon, the Jewish Jesus is already wearing yellow, the color of the star Hitler required Jews to wear.

Having entered our world
of flash and flame 
you dressed yourself
in yellow 
O Jewish Jesus,
Share with us now 
the wisdom we need ~
peace for our home ~
our planet home,
and grant us the joy of your 
healing mercies.


  1. O Jesus, bathed in yellow like the Sun, protect us from the evils that surround us with your warm glow.

  2. Wisdom is truly a gift for which we should be praying. For with wisdom comes better judgment and open mindedness. The world today would have much less troubles if people used more wisdom.

  3. Peace be with you Father Morris. May your days be filled with the yellow and orange of the Sun's rays. For all that you share and all that you do to lead us to God's love, I thank you many fold.

  4. This icon almost looks unfinished, as if the painter intended to go back and complete the colors of Mary's mantle. Maybe it is the glow from the child Jesus that is filling her one side with color. It is beautiful to me though as you give meaning to these unusual icon colors. Much joy to you Father, you deserve it.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts and for your good wishes....and for following the posts.

  6. Color is a wonderful thing. Everyone is affected by color even animals. It allows us to be unique and beautiful in our own way. This icon is especially beautiful and unique. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. I've had the icon 50 years and I still look at it like it was the first day seeing it in Walsh Conelly Religious Article Store in Hempstead. It cost $3.00. Imagine that. But that was a lot of money for me. I had to cut someone's front and back lawn, do the edging and weed the gardens for $3.00! I have color problems too - but orange and yellow I can really see.

    2. You look so much younger than that Father Stephen. You must have found the Fountain of Youth.

    3. Hmm. I don't smoke or do drugs. I'm not a drinker.The dogs walk me a couple of miles each morning I've never had children. Most men have worked harder than I have: the grind of a daily commute, working outside...And I know how good God is to me.

    4. Priests lives can be difficult so I don't know if I would say that most men have worked harder than you. You may have chosen this life that demands celibacy and no family of your own, but that doesn't mean it was easier. Hard is a relative term and I think that your life must be hard in the sacrifices you have made. I am grateful for our good priests.You young appearance may just be God's presence in your soul.

    5. Well, I was being a little funny. But yes, "hard" is a relative term. Lots of men age because they work outdoors or their work is very physically demanding: I'm thinking of the men who do road work, or the fellows around here who are much young than I but whose bodies are all beaten up from logging and stone quary-ing. I've was also blessed in my fifteen years as a chaplain to a school for young people who had lost their way: drugs, rebellion, dropouts..... Being with young people all day for years helps a person to think young - not immature - but to keep moving, being creative, interactive...