I purchased Christmas cards from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston back in 1989 – a patient had brought in this really unique Christmas card entitled – “Repose/Rest on the Flight into Egypt” a print of the painting by Luc Olizier Merson. Over time, I sent out all the cards, except one (even then I knew there could come a time when the card would no longer be available). I found most people either adored the card and found it unique and interesting or they just didn’t get it, asking, ‘Why would Mary and the baby Jesus be sitting on/resting in the paw of the Egyptian Sphinx?’ I ask, why wouldn’t they? The sphinx existed before the birth of Jesus. Sadly, I made a search tonight of the museum’s website and they no longer offer this Christmas card for purchase and it seems it’s not available elsewhere either.
(Update 2021: I found the cards available again at the site Catholic to the Max.com. It’s the full painting, so it’s orientation is a bit different, but still quite lovely. They also have other beautiful Christmas cards, I am in Christmas card heaven at their site! – Christmas Cards: Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Merson (catholictothemax.com))
As most of my family and friends know, I take a special joy in sending out Christmas cards, taking care to send different styles of cards to each relative and friend. For many years, I would have all the cards written out, sealed, addressed, stamped and waiting to be posted on the very day after Thanksgiving! But in recent years, due to life circumstances and experiences over the years, I allowed some of my joy – the mirth of this holy time – my childlike awe, wonder, and delight to be lost. This year, I plan on reclaiming the joy! The bliss of celebrating the birth of the Messiah will emanate from me this Christmastime season. After many long, dry seasons grieved by various trials, I will once again rejoice! I will start this holy season off by returning to my past ritual of sending out my cards, and setting up a small tree, the Friday after Thanksgiving. JOY to the World, the Lord is come!
***The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:13-23), in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area. The episode is often shown in art, as the last episode of the Nativity of Jesus in art, and was a common component in cycles of the Life of the Virgin as well as the Life of Christ.
Matthew 2:13-23 –
13 And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. 14 Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: 15 That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry: and sending killed all the male children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: 18 A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child. 21 Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But hearing that Archclaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. 23 And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by the prophets: That he shall be called a Nazarene.— (Douay Rheims Catholic Bible Online)
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