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Wax, Marble, and the Imitation of Mary

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Jay Ross of Orlando, Florida

After consecrating himself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Jay Ross was inspired to create "things of gold, silver, or bronze" (see Ex 31:4). He left a tenured position to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a jeweler. Jay and his wife, Angie, are co-founders of 31Four Artisan Jewelry — an all-Catholic design and manufacturing studio based in the Orlando, Florida, area.

In his book 33 Days to Morning Glory (Marian Press), Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, refers to a sentiment attributed to St. Louis de Montfort; that becoming a saint through Marian consecration, as opposed to becoming a saint through any other way, is "like the difference between a sculptor who makes a statue through long weeks of hard labor, hammering away with a chisel and another artist who makes the same statue quickly and easily by using a mold" (46).

With a master's degree in fine arts in writing and as a professional Catholic jewelry designer who uses molds on a daily basis, I want to weigh in on this profound statement.

First, you have the subtractive method of creation, wherein the sculptor uses, say, marble. He chips away and polishes, unburying the beauty within. Consider Michelangelo, who took two years to carve the David before the art he intended was revealed. Although impressive, this method of carving is laborious, long, uncertain, and has a high risk of failure. Kind of like life.

If we consider our path to sainthood through that lens, we find that we all experience a certain chipping away. Similar to Michelangelo, our Creator had a vision for our lives. We are His masterpieces. Just as in the David, this chipping away is how the inner beauty we have reveals itself to the word. And it ultimately gets displayed in Heaven. But unlike statues, we actually get to experience it!

In contrast to the sculptor's subtractive method, a jeweler's molds can represent a meticulously crafted artwork. We use heat, a frame, and pressure to vulcanize silicone around jewelry. We slice the mold in half and remove the artwork. The negative space within makes a perfect representation of the jewelry. The thing is, when we inject that space with wax, we can create unlimited models. It is accurate, efficient, beautiful, and sure. We cast it in silver or gold. We set precious stones. In short, we build onto that jewelry with an additive method, further embellishing that which was already beautiful. Kind of like life.

When we look to Mary as an example, we can form ourselves according to her example. She becomes the mold, the beauty that we build upon. Each iteration is different. Each one of us can be further carved. We have different experiences, imperfections, and talents. But using Mary as an example allows us to get a better starting point. We can beautify something that's already beautiful. All great Marian saints have reformed the shape of themselves, a shape that will be further carved, that will be added to in beauty. They start closer to God's vision of the Immaculate Conception than many of us, and in so doing, those who choose Marian imitation move further from their fallen nature, closer to the divine vision of humanity.

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