Love’s photograph…..


Painting by Francisco de Zurbaran

Occasionally, I enter a Catholic church where I can find no visible crucifix.  Instead, there is sometimes displayed the confusing (to me) image of Our Risen Lord on a cross.  And I am saddened.  I need my Crucified Savior.

When I raise my eyes and behold my Crucified Jesus, I am captivated by the look of total peace and submission on His Face.  He is incomparably beautiful in this moment when He drew His last breath to accomplish our salvation.  My heart melts at the sight of the Son of God, so innocent, so pure, and yet completely yielded to the instrument of His torture, because as He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself.”  It is the yearning of His Heart that we would look upon Him and see Love —  Love poured out for us.

In my breviary, I keep a beautiful picture of Jesus Crucified.  I turn to it, especially when I am sad, or worried, or lukewarm in love for Him.  In this little picture, I find an encounter with Jesus.  I love to ponder His Wounds, tracing them with my finger, pausing at each precious One, trying to comprehend what my salvation cost Him.  We seem alone, Jesus and I, in these moments…

I savor the feeling of a devotional sized crucifix in my hands.  While tenderly kissing the wounds of Jesus represented on this sacramental, I never doubt the He, Who so longs to be loved, is consoled by my poor efforts to quench that Divine Thirst.  He is so gracious, that He is grateful for the least sign of affection from His children.

St. Therese had great devotion to the crucifix.  She loved to adorn her personal one with fresh flowers — sometimes plucking them and “wiping” the wounds of Jesus with the petals.

In the monastery garden, she often led the novices in her care, to gather only the freshest rose petals to toss at the large crucifix erected there.

One of my favorite crucifixes is located in the church of my childhood –St. Dominic’s in New Orleans.  It is larger than life, and cast in bronze.  It hangs in the rear of the church, where one can light candles and kneel closely, at length, in prayer and meditation.

Gazing upon this crucifix, I always feel transported back in time to the hill of Calvary.   Because of the size of the corpus, the wounds of Jesus are riveting.  But, it is the expression on His Adorable Face which totally captivates me.  He is exhausted.  The pain is overwhelming.  He has reached the limit of what He can bear.  Yet, His Face is suffused by a look of total surrender, and an ineffable gentleness and goodness.  He is irresistible.

Yet, such beauty is only the work of an artist.  What must have been the breathtaking loveliness of the Divine Countenance as the true Lamb of God approached death!

Behind the altar in my current parish church hangs a beautiful wooden carved crucifix.  On Good Friday, it is carried in procession, and carefully laid on a platform in front of the sanctuary.  Everyone present is then invited to come up, and individually venerate this crucifix which is so especially our own.

The first time this was done, I stood by the statue of Our Lady, watching in awe.  The faithful approached by the hundreds, each expressing their love and tenderness in a personal way.  Many kissed the feet of Jesus.  Others pressed their lips to the wound in His side.  Some kissed or caressed His cheek.  Others kissed the wounds in His hands.

Standing near Mary’s statue, I was reminded of what she endured on that first Good Friday.  I imagined her in my own church now, standing beside the crucifix, witnessing such a very different scene than the one 2000 years ago.  I felt that all of Heaven must have fallen silent to watch these good people come forward in reverence and homage to cover Jesus with a thousand kisses.  They stooped; they knelt; they reached for Him.  They loved Him.

I thank God and the Church for the treasure of the crucifix.  While it is true that Jesus suffers no more, may we never, ever forget the extravagance of His Love for us!  The crucifix is like a photograph of that Love.  If we look upon it, it will remind us of our worth in Our Father’s eyes.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16)

Thank You, Jesus.  We love You, Jesus!

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11 thoughts on “Love’s photograph…..

  1. I don’t like to see the risen Christ on the Cross, either. People need to understand what exactly Jesus suffered for their sake and seeing Him risen on the Cross bypasses the whole Crucifixion. I loved your beautiful words in this post. I like to run my fingers over Jesus’ wounds on the the Crucifix attached to my Rosary beads. On one pair I wore off the silver coating on the crown of thorns and the nails.

    God bless! (I’m not on Facebook…let’s see if this works.)

    • Mary, you did it without Facebook! Hooray! I have trouble posting on your blog too. I have to be sure to use my URL as my “name” for some reason. But, whatever works!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and how your rosary crucifix has had the silver “loved” off of it! All the more beautiful to Jesus…..
      Yes, I can’t imagine not having the crucifix. How beautiful Jesus is, and how could we ever want to forget? Even now in glory, He still bears His Wounds, so He must love them too.
      How lovely He is! Thanks for stopping by, dear Mary.

  2. Beautiful post! But, sadly, Jesus does still suffer today from all of our neglect and indifference, from all of the sins for which no one atones. All of the love you offer to HIm in your tender devotion is such a blessed relief for his pains! Thank you for loving HIm so much!

    • Anne, and thank you for loving Him so much! I meant that He isn’t suffering the pains of crucifixion anymore, but in some mysterious way, He does seem to still suffer from all the sin, indifference, rejection and worse hurled at Him constantly today.

      I have heard an interesting explanation of how we can still console Jesus in our day, even though He is reigning in Glory in Heaven. When He suffered the Agony in the Garden, the angel who came to comfort Him showed Him all the love and adoration and tenderness that would come to Him over the future centuries, and this consoled His Dear Heart and strenghtened Him throughout HIs Passion and Death.

      Wouldn’t it be painful if we thought He didn’t “need” our love now?
      Blessings,
      Patricia

  3. I cry out with you Patricia…to our crucified Lord with thanks and joy mixed with grief and sorrow.
    In the chapel of our church is this enormous cross over the altar..Under it I had my profound conversion in my 20’s and my reversion back to the faith 6 years ago. We also had our marriage blessed under that glorious cross.
    What other joy can life offer us, but the cross of the Savior ? +

    • Caroline, what beautiful words you share. “What other joy can life offer us, but the cross of the Savior?”
      It is so true. As beautiful as He is in Glory, in all the pictures and paintings we have of Him, it is on the Cross, that He is most beautiful. And it is there that we can go for love, strength, comfort, perseverence…truly all that we need, And of course, salvation…from the sweet Lamb of God Who poured out ALL for us. Thank you for sharing your encounters with His Cross.

  4. Beautiful reflection, Patricia.
    I love His Cross also.
    I usually fall asleep grasping a crucifix.
    Just to hold it and stroke it brings peace and a sense of His closeness.
    My church has very large crucifix suspended from the ceiling – you can’t miss seeing it.
    I’m thankful for that as I know some churches have removed such images from plain sight.
    blessings..Trish

    • Oh Trish, how lovely….to fall asleep holding a crucifix. You are comforted, but I’m sure Jesus is comforted and consoled by you.

      Did you read the comments between Caroline and me where I posted a link to your beautiful poem? We were planning an imaginary trip to Australia just to visit YOU : ) I’m so glad we will all get to meet
      in Heaven someday! God bless you, my friend.

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