When sacred and multimedia artist Jill Metz began her depiction of Saint Monica, little did she know that one day she would adorn a book cover or be named, The tears of the heart.
The naming did not happen until Ascension Press contacted Metz earlier this year requesting the use of the image for What would Monica do? my new book about the grief of loved ones who have left the faith.
With the piece still unnamed, Metz did what she always does by approaching her art. “I prayed, asking St. Monica to help me,” she said. “I think I’m quite docile to the will of God, and when I was praying it was really because of the tears. It has always been about tears.
In fact, after she finished and even varnished the piece, she felt God commanding her to “go back and add a tear.” It has been lifted from the rest of the image and is not discernible on the rendered book cover. But Metz knows it’s there, just as Our Lord knows the intricacies of all hearts.
“The enemy wants us to believe that this world should not be filled with tears,” she added, “but we see that is not the case through the work of the cross.”
Ascent to God
Metz grew up in a hotbed of drug addiction and divorce. Without any fundamental faith, she delved into the occult, exploring tarot cards and astrology. “The enemy was always there, tempting me,” she recalls, and like at St. Augustine, her heart was restless.
At 17, Metz feels an impulse and stops at a small country church. “I walked in and just poured out my heart to the Lord, singing (amazing Grace) at the top of my lungs,” she recounted. “I think God marked me at that time, and I really started to pursue religion.”
Metz eventually met and married her husband, Ken, a Catholic birthplace, and readily agreed to raise their Catholic children. “This gaze towards God had arrived. I opened the door and he came,” prompting a desire to be part of something bigger, she explained. But she was not interested in Catholicism for herself.
“If I ever became a saint, I would be the patroness of stubbornness,” she admitted. Although she attended mass with Ken, she did not believe in the real presence. “I just didn’t see it could be real the way that [people] received and dressed. There was no witness that there was anything different here.
But in 2009, going through a period of spiritual aridity, Metz began “longing for the comfort he had always given me”. God was telling her it was time to join the Church, but upon hearing that call she said, “I banged my fist on the kitchen counter and said, ‘Anything but that!’ »
She challenged God, saying that if he really wanted her in the Church, he should say so very clearly. That evening, she went to tuck in her son who was preparing for his first communion.
“Only a mother can understand the way a child searches and talks,” she said, noting that when she threw back the covers she saw him holding a plastic rosary with beads in the shape of a bead. heart. “His little hand went up and he threw it at me and said, ‘Here, mum, I want you to have this.'”
That was all it took. “It was God using the smallest to bring down the strong,” she said. “I knew then that, yes, I was called into the Catholic Church.”
Her rise helped inspire her husband’s reversion, and soon after her reception into the Church, she was coordinating what was then called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA) in her parish.
Finding Sacred Art
Metz chose Elizabeth Ann Seton as Confirmation Saint, noting that the saint once said that if people knew of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist, they would crawl on their hands and knees to receive Him.
“It was only grace,” she said, noting that the priest who trained her was very Eucharistic and that she spent holy hour with him every Friday. “He was a good teacher of the faith, and God sent me what I needed at the time.”
Metz consecrated herself to Mary and her children to the Blessed Mother too. “I had my conversion, then our Blessed Mother chose me,” she said. “After that, I really experienced quite a miraculous freedom and freedom that I no longer had to worry about the well-being of my children.”
They were young at the time, 9 and 10, she added, “so I hadn’t experienced a lot of the worldly issues that our young people face yet.”
Metz appreciated his work as a multimedia artist. When a friend asked her to paint a saint for a Catholic radio fundraiser, after some hesitation she gave in, eventually producing a depiction of Saint Lucia.
Shortly after, Metz discovered a dark spot in one of his eyes, causing partial blindness and requiring medical intervention. A friend suggested that she pray to Saint Lucia, and when, a few days later, the stain disappeared, Metz powerfully awakened to the intercession of the saints.
Before the drop fully dissolved, however, it took on the shape of a heart, Metz said. “Since then, I haven’t done anything [artistically] but paint the saints.
Meeting with Saint Monica
For each work, she appeals to God and seeks to know the saints through their intercession.
“With St. Lucy healing my eye, I was totally okay with what they were there for: to teach and guide us,” she said. To create the right atmosphere of prayer while she paints, Metz incorporates sacramentals, “everything from having relics around me to using holy water. I also have an exorcised candle burning. I really try to create a sacred environment and step into it.
She also invites the Holy Spirit to join her. “It really taught me to trust the Lord. I learned to distinguish the voice of God from other voices. It’s a great gift that I can’t take credit for, to be honest.
Metz didn’t know much about Saint Monica when she began to pray, but she felt her presence and “true love” when she asked for her intercession. “We know these saints choose us,” she said, noting that she was also inspired to make her eyes blue. “I wanted his eyes to reflect grief. For some reason, blue represented the color of grief to me.
In Sainte Monica, Metz sees “persevering in our sufferings, our disappointments, and hoping for the goodness of the Lord. I am still in awe of her. I just think she’s a mighty saint for this time, because so many of our children are so lost.
Ultimately, Metz returns to the most divine element of his monica art: tearing. “That’s what I hope women in particular will see [in this image]; never to deprive the Lord of your tears, of your dreams, of your desires – and to know how much he delights in giving you an answer in those tears.
Roxane Salonenwife and mother of five from Fargo, North Dakota, is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer, Catholic radio host and speaker, and co-author, with Patti Armstrong, of What would Monica do? (Ascension Press, 2022). Roxane also writes a pro-life column, “Sidewalk Stories”, for her diocese. His work can be found at RoxaneSalonen.com.
Find more works by Metz on his website, TruOriginal.com.