April Publishers Newsletter

Posted by ida decesaris on

Dear Friends,

           Father William Hart McNichols is widely known as one of the world’s great religious artists and iconographers. We have previously published several volumes featuring his work, including Christ All Merciful and Mother of God, Similar to Fire. My friend Sister Wendy Beckett said of his icons, “When I look at them I fall into prayer, and that’s it. . . They’re not ‘works of art’ in the worldly sense but functional, living theology, uniting us to Our Lord as we look at them.”

            Yet the writing of icons came relatively late on his long spiritual and artistic journey. In an extraordinary new book, All My Eyes See: The Artistic Vocation of Fr. William Hart McNichols, we learn the full, remarkable story. Told through conversations with his friend and theologian Chris Pramuk, we follow the path by which Bill sought to integrate his dual vocations as priest and artist.

            From early childhood Bill sensed that all reality was embraced by the love of God. At the same time he felt compelled to draw, to bear witness to “all that his eyes saw.” After becoming a Jesuit (he is now a priest of the Archdiocese of Albuquerque), he continued formal training in art. But during the AIDS pandemic in New York his priestly and artistic vocations converged in a new way—both in his ministry with those dying under miserable circumstances, and in devotional works such as his AIDS Crucifixion, which spoke directly with “arrows into the heart of the church.”

            Later, after studying with the great iconographer Brother Robert Lentz, he found a new vocation, producing hundreds of icons, including traditional images of Christ, Mary, and the saints, along with modern figures of our time, including Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Sister Thea Bowman.    

Beautifully illustrated with full-color images on every page All My Eyes See is more than an “art book,” or even a portrait of the artist. Through this book we come to know the heart of a great spiritual master, a heart that remains deeply vulnerable to the wounds of the world, while pointing toward that Beauty, as Dostoevsky said, that will “save the world.”

            The heart of the world, imperiled by human behavior, is the theme of another striking book by Mary Frohlich: The Heart at the Heart of the World: Re-Visioning the Sacred Heart for the Ecozoic Era. As Wendy Wright comments: “Dipping down into the emotive power of devotional imagery she finds a practice suited to the present age: to have our hearts pierced in anguish to become a place of true refuge for our human and more-than-human kin.”

            Pope Francis has spoken often of the church as a “community of missionary disciples.” That image forms the theme of a magisterial new treatment of missionary ecclesiology by Stephen B. Bevans, SVD: Community of Missionary Disciples: The Continuing Creation of the Church. Peter Phan calls it “an instant classic,” an essential contribution to any course on ecclesiology.


In this spring season, may our hearts remain open to sorrow, joy, and continuing creation,


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