Wilfried Joye


Bernie Mullen

In my Father's House...

In my Father's House...

Wilfried Joye was born in Dadizele, Belgium in 1939. He was ordained a priest in 1964 in the order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He has been working as a missionary in Potchfestroom in South Africa since 1966. He has often been exhibited in S A and in Belgium and his paintings often portray rural life and the human situation. His works are vibrant and appealing and he uses the fish as his symbol in most of his works. This is because the fish represents insight (it never closes its eyes) these remain open for the reception of life and truth. The mouth of the fish is always readily open and this symbolises capacity for the ‘food of life’ in its purity and fullness. The paintings of Joye are often religious and he presents to the world a journey of deep faith, the sacredness of life and the joy of hope. Fr Joye was a close friend of Fr Frans Claerhout and he often exhibited with him in South Africa and internationally.

Opening Prayer:

I wait with my thin line of life
At the door of your entrance.
I stand confronted with my poverty.
I stand in need.
My lank arms and hands not stretched
In beggar’s stance of pleading.
I stand confronted with my poverty.
I dream dear Father,
Of your house, of your dwelling place
Of your promised home for me…

I look with hollow, open eyes
At my being dressed in poverty.
I do not slink away and hide.
My humble home is bared
For all earth’s eyes to see.
I wait at the door of your entrance
With hope that you will feed.
I look, confronted with my poverty.
Dear Father, I dream,
While I wait in all my want.

I stand with my small-child heart
Against the tin wall of patience;
Against my wall of waiting.
I long with growing love
I long, dear Father, that you will come
With all that Love can give
And make your dwelling place
In me.
Dear Father, I dream;
I wait in all my need.
Dear father, dream in me.

Pause for reflection:

Centring Music:
Dear Father: Neil Diamond
CD: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Scripture Reading: (African Bible)

John: 14: 1-7

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way. Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Pause for reflection:

In his portrayal of the shanty life of millions of the poor in our land, Wilfried Joye, as is often the case in his paintings, provides us with two separate pictures. The one is made purely of what is human and the other of what is divine. The one rescues the other. On our right we look at a solid, traditional, made for comfort, warmth, protection and proper shelter, home. The walls are thick; the roof thatched with nature’s grass and the window is deeply set into the firm walls of endurance. The window frame is blue and speaks of light and freedom. We are drawn to this house. We feel it awaits our entry. Indeed its entrance, dark though it is, is filled by a figure intent on ingress. We note too that the door is missing. The way in is possible at all times. We are never shut out of this house. We are meant to always feel ‘at home’ here.

Pause for reflection:

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom do I fear?
The Lord is my life’s refuge;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Pause for reflection: There is more that draws us to the home of tradition. Upon the doorstep stands a bucket of what we think is water. This graphically tells us that before we gain access to this dwelling we need to be cleansed. We also need to recognise our thirst and assuage it. Our real home provides what is fundamental for us. Light, water, shelter. We are allegorically coaxed into our real and most essential home, the home of the human heart: The home for which we are created. Love’s Heart and Home invites us in. The door to Love is fundamentally dark. Mystery conceals the Light. It is in the dark that we are able to receive it. This is our bliss and provides harmony for our being. It is the door of simplicity through which we must all pass. All life all creation journeys towards this.


One thing I ask of the Lord;
This I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
All the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
To visit his temple.
The Lord is my light and my salvation…

Pause for reflection:

So what is it that prevents our bliss in the home of our hearts? Perhaps, Joye uses the common shanty to depict our human struggle, our deprivation that we bring upon ourselves and upon others. The shanty is made up of all that is picked up along the way. Ill formed window frames, ill fitting sheets of iron shoved into a shape that very basically serves need. The figure that looks from the window seems silent and still. The women who are resident stand in abject misery like soldier puppets ready to follow any pulling of the string. The only sign of animation comes from the man who sits on the makeshift bench with hand on hip that seems to signify authority and demand. We feel dejection and humiliation. We sense too, that the women share powerlessness. Poverty demands from us. It wields authority over us. The very small child stands facing the makeshift wall and his/her hat and head are almost invisible as they are painted into it. In some African cultures those who have some inkling that their death is near, face the wall and speak to nobody. They do not eat nor drink. They simply fade away. Perhaps Joye alludes to the fact that when we realise our spiritual poverty we become like small children. We begin to die little deaths until God is our all.


For God will hide me in shelter
In time of trouble,
Will conceal me in the cover of God’s tent;
Set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high
Above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in God’s tent
Sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the Lord.
The Lord is my light and my salvation…

Pause for reflection:

The only suggestion of real life is that of the pecking fowls that it seems are better off than the people. There is a natural ignorance about them. They do what they are created to do and respond without argument. All but they wait in isolated worlds for rescue from their misery. We find nowhere to go for comfort and alleviation unless we return to the traditional home. Unless we take the first step into it and allow our rescue to happen. Poverty, whether material or emotional and spiritual, needs our involvement and willingness to work with Love so that the riches of the Kingdom can be lavished upon us. We can only live in magnificence and splendour if we allow God to love us to death…If we ourselves fade away and give way to the incomprehensible mystery of being totally cherished. It is this that brings us to our true dwelling place, the heart of God…


Lord, show me your way;
Lead me to a level path
Because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the will of my foes;
Malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
But I believe I shall enjoy the Lord’s goodness
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord, take courage;
Be stout-hearted, wait for the Lord.
The Lord is my light and my salvation…

Closing Music:

Neil Diamond
CD: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Track 8

Copyright © 2009 Wilfried Joye. All Rights Reserved.

Website design and Hosting by DE WET Software Development Studio, Potchefstroom
[ Recommended Browser: MS IE 7+ or Google Chrome 1.0 ]