Readers of Hope Sings, So Beautiful and regular visitors to this website may recognize in this image the distinct iconography of William Hart McNichols, or Father Bill, as his many friends know him. The subjects of his icons are not always “saints” in the official canon. And by that very fact, Father Bill invites us to see with new eyes the holiness of God shining through all things. Thus this haunting icon of “Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge,” the Franciscan priest and chaplain to the New York Fire Department, who many have called “the Saint of 9/11.” Hope Sings Chapter 8 includes Father Bill’s arresting image of “The Passion of Matthew Shepard.”
A number of Father Bill’s icons are now available for purchase reprinted beautifully on tempered glass. He has named the new series “Windows Into Heaven,” to embody his philosophy that “what you gaze upon, you become.” As Fr. Bill writes: “You gaze on the icon, but it gazes on you too. We need to gaze on truly conversational, truly loving images, images that will return our love.”
I can say that coming to know Father Bill’s work and his friendship has been one of the most extraordinary and unexpected graces in my life. It seems that when I most need a word of hope, a word or image of consolation, Father Bill comes quietly to my rescue. From a place of deep prayerfulness, silence, and courage, he gives birth to “images that return our love.”
I invite you to visit his website and especially to view his new series of “Windows into Heaven.”
shelter Him our flame of hope
with your tender hands.
And in our times of dread and nightmares,
let Him be our dream of comfort.
And in our times of physical pain and suffering,
let Him be our healer.
And in our times of separation from God and one another,
let Him be our communion.