Art Advent of Patrick Taban and Ernesto Graciano

By Honore Onana Olah

This year, Hekima Jesuit Community under the leadership of Fr. John Ghansah S.J. has decided to celebrate the Advent Season through graphic art, thanks to the expertise of two Jesuit scholastics – Patrick Taban (from South Sudan) and Ernesto Graciano (from Mozambique) – who have undertaken to work on four interconnected painting to capture not only various Advent motifs but also the movement of the Christian community toward the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ…
The first painting, it will be recalled, represented the Trinity’s contemplation of the earth, an insight appropriated from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. The second painting, entitled, the Fiat, is an introduction to the Second Week of the Season of Advent.
Honoré Onana Olah spoke to Fr Wilfred Sumani, SJ, Hekima’s resident liturgist, who unravelled the ‘mystery’ of the painting. In three points, Fr Sumani outlines the key theological points through which we can deepen our friendship with the Lord who comes to save us.
The second painting of the Advent Art is called the FIAT. There are three levels: heaven, earth and under the earth.

1.Heaven: Having seen what is going in creation, the Three Persons of the Trinity “decree in their eternity that the Second Person should become [human] to save the human race” (Spiritual Exercises 102). The Son’s Fiat, redolent of the fiat of the first creation account, is represented by the rays of light (“Let there be light”) that filter through the firmament of heaven. At the same time, salvation is the work of the whole Trinity; that is why the Three Persons are now looking in the same direction.

Art Advent

Art Advent

2.The Earth: The light from the Fiat of the Second Person of the Trinity illumines, albeit inchoately, the mountain of the Lord. Simeon and Anna, representing those “looking forward to the consolation of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:25), are in prayer; they face the Mountain of the Lord (cf. Psalm 121:1 – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?”). A little branch has sprouted on the dry stump, the Stump of Jesse (Isa 11:1). Further to the right, green plants begin to cover the erstwhile desert land (cf. Isa 35:1).
On the extreme right, the site of the captivity of the Chibok girls has become the site of the Annunciation. The angel of the Lord announces that heaven (see the hand pointing up) has chosen Mary (see the finger pointing at Mary) to bear the Son of God. Mary, holding a broom in her hand (a sign of active waiting), makes a gesture of surrender to the will of God: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Mary’s fiat echoes the heavenly fiat.
3.Under the Earth: The scattered human bones have now been gathered together: “As I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone” (Ez 37:7). The fish in the sea receive energy from the heavenly word and make some movement. However, the eyes remain closed.
O God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever (Morning Prayer, Second Sunday of Advent).

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