On this Good Friday, Ellyn von Huben offers a poignant reflection on three depictions of the Crucified Savior which are displayed at the Art Institute of of Chicago. The images and accompanying commentary serve as the occasion for a prayerful recollection of the salvific event of Christ's Paschal Mystery.
In his profound meditation on the last words of Christ, Death on a Friday Afternoon, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus begins with a caution to the reader against a rush to Easter. He asks us to linger a while with our crucified Lord. This is a caution that I now reread every Lent. For there is more to Holy Week than stifling the impulse to lunge at a basket of Cadbury Creme Eggs or making reservations for a leisurely Easter brunch. It is the time to linger at the foot of the cross.
With that in mind - in fact, while paging through this Lenten favorite while on the train - I spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago. I savored time with a variety of exquisite depictions of the Crucifixion, each offering its own specific spiritual gift...
For this Wednesday of Holy Week, the Word on Fire blog features several more of Dr. Denis McNamara's meditations on Leonard Porter's Stations of the Cross, featured first on Creative Minority Report. Read the reflections below.
In Station Five, Simon of Cyreneis pressed into service to help Christ carry the cross. Christ has fallen and is beginning to look more spent than in earlier stations. The glory of his garments remains, indicating his divine action, yet his face shows the effort of his labors. The clouds have gathered in dark storminess.
Throughout this station are images of work and helping which echo the very notion of helping Christ carry the Cross. Notably, Simon himself wears the conventional clothing of the peasant worker, including the knife in his belt. In this station the good centurion Longinusreappears on horseback (the “choice of Hercules” apparent on his belt once again), who in an act of charity presses Simon into service...
At the beginning of this Holy Week, the Word on Fire blog features a meditation from Pope Benedict XVI on "The Suffering Servant," taken from Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 2005.
"In Greek and Latin, the two international languages of the time, and in Hebrew, the language of the Chosen People, a sign stood above the cross of Jesus, indicating who we was: the King of the Jews, the promised Son of David. Pilate, the unjust judge became a prophet despite himself. The kingship of Jesus was proclaimed before all the world. Jesus himself had not accepted the title "Messiah," because it would have suggested a mistaken, human idea of power and deliverance. Yet now the title can remain publically displayed above the Crucified Christ. He is indeed the king of the world. Now he is truly "lifted up." In sinking to the depths, he rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love; he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way, he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love. Now we know who God is. Now we know what true kingship is... He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of humanity, the drama of God's darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world darkened when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born..."
Pope Benedict XVI