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Posts Tagged ‘Pietá’

For part one, click here Christ's Wounds“Caravaggio – The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Original uploader was Dante Alighieri at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Tm using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas.jpg#/media/File:Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas.jpg

We spoke in part one of how Jesus Christ, through His death and Resurrection, takes up the wounded “geography” of our fallen world and makes even the scars of our existence capable of leading us to the Divine.  It is indeed a new Flood, more momentous than the one braved by Noah, crashing upon the world with new life, immeasurable power, and life-giving mercy:

Send forth your spirit (…) and you renew the face of the earth. – Ps. 104:30

Beowulf But before we get into that, it might be helpful to flesh out the “old geography” a bit more with a concrete example.  One particularly fascinating manifestation of the old geography is the worldview of the pagan Anglo-Saxons, which J.R.R. Tolkien touched on in an essay on “Beowulf”:

(…) [H]e who wrote (…) ‘heroes under heaven’, or ‘mighty men upon earth’, (…) [was] thinking of eormengrund, the great earth, ringed with garsecg, the shoreless sea, beneath the sky’s inaccessible roof; whereon, as in a little circle of light about their halls, men with courage as their stay went forward to that battle with the hostile world and the offspring of the dark which ends for all, even the kings and champions, in defeat. – “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”

This is just one example, but you get the idea.  Some variation of this ambiguous outlook on life has been present throughout all ages, and survives in more “modern” forms today. Until Christ returns to restore all things, there continues to be hardship, turmoil, suffering, darkness, and even death in the world.  But the whole of creation has in a sense been “baptized” by Christ’s saving work, so that the darkness of a world “ringed with the shoreless sea” and haunted by “the offspring of the dark” — in short, the mystery of evil (both moral and physical) — becomes taken up into and transformed by the mystery of the Cross. Christ Crucified by Velazquez“Cristo crucificado” by Diego Velázquez – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_crucificado.jpg#/media/File:Cristo_crucificado.jpg

The Cross is very important to the understanding of Christianity — not because it is a gloomy or sadomasochistic religion…far from it; rather, because neither does it lean towards the opposite extreme of “Pollyanna-ism.”  The Christian teaching on heaven, redemption, and the victory of good over evil no more minimizes or negates the very real sufferings of the world than the Resurrection of Christ negates the horror of the suffering inflicted on Him.  But Our Lord has joined Himself to our suffering, and has thus given it a whole new meaning. He has done this as a sign of His infinite love for us, and in invitation to fellowship with Him.  This is how He will ultimately heal us, rather than by orchestrating our deliverance at a safe distance. Pieta

“Michelangelo’s Pieta 5450 cut out black” by Stanislav Traykov, Niabot (cut out) – Image:Michelangelo’s Pieta 5450.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450_cut_out_black.jpg#/media/File:Michelangelo%27s_Pieta_5450_cut_out_black.jpg

What we have now is what I would call Pietá spirituality.  Instead of seeing darkness, we can look at the world and see the scourged body of Christ in the arms of His mother, blood and water pouring out of His sacred side as a “fountain of mercy for the whole world” (to quote a Divine Mercy prayer).  As one person, I cannot solve all the evils of the world.  But if in my immediate situation I can minister to my Lord even a little bit, tending to those of His Wounds that I can see in my fellow human beings (or elsewhere), then perhaps I am not doing too badly. One more post — stay tuned.

Images from Wikipedia

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I’ve been meaning to see this movie for quite some time, and was finally able to do so recently by the courtesy of a relative.

Very powerful and moving film, based on the true story of a family miraculously reunited after being separated by the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.  The film overall shows how certain primal themes of the human soul can come to light in the midst of great catastrophe.

Bennet-Family-The-Impossible

We meet the Bennet family — consisting of dad Henry (Ewan McGregor), mom Maria (Naomi Watts), and sons Lucas, (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oakley Pendergrast) — as they vacation in Thailand for Christmas; they are relaxing and playing by the pool at their resort, and then the tsunami hits…virtually washing everything away.

Maria_Lucas

The first sign of hope we see after this is when Maria and Lucas find each other in the wreckage.  At first, the swift-flowing currents make it hard for them to reach one another.

But they overcome, and they embrace.

Maria offers Lucas the comforting encouragement proper to a mother, and then when she becomes badly injured and, ultimately, ill, he gives her the tender care of a dutiful and loving son.

Some people may disagree with me on this — they’ll say: “Hey, a parent is a parent, and a child is a child.”  But deep down, I think we can sense the reality is something different.  A father’s relationship with his daughter is special in a way that a father-son relationship is not, and vice versa.  A mother’s relationship with son or daughter is special and unique in a way that either child’s relationship with their father is not, and vice versa.  Likewise, a mother’s relationships with son and daughter differ as much as they the father’s.

Such is the incredible richness of the human family.

Lucas_MariaIn Maria and Lucas we see an example of the particular filial bond between mother and son, embracing as it does both the fierce nurturing of the mother and the tender, doting care of the son.  Let’s face it: This moves us deeply, right?

But I think it does more than merely tug at our heartstrings.  Indeed, it strikes a chord deep in our souls that resonates into our thoughts and emotions.  In my opinion, it speaks of a primordial reality older than the ages, yet always pregnant with the hope of new life.

What is arguably the greatest illustration of this was sculpted by Michelangelo in the 16th century:

PietaHere we see the Virgin Mary cradling the body of her Son after the Crucifixion.  Talk about a mother’s care for her child.

But yes, this relationship also went the other way — in fact, in this case the Son’s care for His Mother came first.  This finds expression in the wonderful doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  Knowing from all eternity what kind of mother He wanted, the Word of God granted Mary of Nazareth an unprecedented and singular grace: Freedom from all sin, both original and personal, right from the very moment of her conception.

It was as if He saw her walking toward an unseen hole in the ground and stopped her before she got to it, so that she could have a special partnership with Him in saving the rest of us who had already fallen in.

Maria_Lucas_Daniel(I am reminded of Maria and Lucas helping other people, like the little boy named Daniel, in the wake of the tsunami)

To me, any such mother-son relationship as that portrayed in “The Impossible” is a type of that great archetypal Mother-Son relationship.

This was the aspect of the movie that struck me as most profound.  I have a couple of more minor thoughts I’d like to share as well, but I will include these in a follow-up post (hopefully by the end of the week).

Image of Michelangelo’s “The Pietá” from Wikipedia; others obtained through a Google image search

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