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Friday 17 August 2012

Christ After the Flagellation Contemplated by the Christian Soul

This painting by Diego Velazquez, painted between 1626 and 1628, has been hanging in my bedroom since I arrived in London in June. The baroque masterpiece depicts Christ, ennobled and yet suffering, being sought and looked at by the soul, depicted as a little child. In that sense, the painting reminds me of the icons, which show the soul as small and innocent. An angel, strong, bold, large, imposing, gender-less, handsome, teacher-like, in red and black, points to the injured Christ. I like to think this angel is my Guardian Angel, the guardian of my soul and every soul of a human who is a child of God.

We are made children of God in baptism and not before. This soul has been given an angel as a child of God and the angel, rightly so, indicates that Christ died for this soul's innocence and salvation.

The instruments of torture lie in the foreground of the painting. Christ is strained, still bound to the pillar. But, He is in control, the Master of His Suffering. He looks at the soul with great love and longing. Love Me and Honor Me, the look seems to state. Christ seems to be asking the soul to think of why He has been brought to this state. But, there is not reproach, only love.

There are no accidents with God and this is not my picture, not my room, only a summer dwelling. One of the oddest things about the painting is that the Christ looks like a member of my family, bringing an intimacy to the portraiture through the gene-pool and the imagination of the artist.

That God wants me to contemplate His Suffering is true and good. He calls me and you to contemplation in the busy world.

May I respond always in obedience to my angel and in the attitude of honor and love of this soul in the painting.

Besides an icon which I brought with me of the Vladimir Madonna, which I carry everywhere, the only other picture in the room is a print of St. Etheldreda's entitled, "Chapel, Ely Place".  I am content with the art in my little room.

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Special Guest Post from JonathanCatholic

Spouse of God, Continued

In my post in the past week, I discussed the humility that God the Son truly assumed to Himself in becoming man, and examined the extraordinary fact of His obedience to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, in the context of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori’s great work, “The Glories of Mary,” and a passage from the second chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Luke. This week I would like to complete the meditation by focusing on the implications this has for the teaching of the Church in other areas, most notably the Priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass.
When our God humbled Himself to become subject to the Blessed Virgin Mary in obedience during His life here on earth, it was part of the larger context of His entire intention of becoming man, a purpose of pure charity, born from all eternity in the infinite fire of charity that is the Most Holy Trinity. In the deepest intention of the Holy Trinity for God the Son to become man, at the heart of this intention was that God the Son joined Himself so intimately to mankind that He made Himself truly vulnerable to humanity, in the person of Mary, and through Mary, the Church. In this vulnerability, He became subject to her throughout His life as an expression of how fully He had joined Himself to mankind.
At the moment of the Annunciation of Saint Gabriel the Archangel, He awaited her fiat before He willed to be conceived in her womb. As soon as the ‘Let it be done’ fell from her lips, the eternal and majestic Almighty came down as simply and sweetly as a Divine Spouse; at the moment of her assent, God descended both to compass her and be compassed by her; to both surround and be surrounded.
Throughout Our Lord’s life, God Himself willed to be cared for by Mary and willed to need her. It was within His power to be utterly self-sufficient; He could have appeared on earth and commanded obedience immediately from every nation, with the glory of the Godhead shining from His Face. Yet, where does He appear, but in the arms of the Virgin? To whom does He cling, now, as a Toddler, but to her leg? When He studies the art of carpentry, what does He eat, but food from her table? As He matures in His humanity, growing in grace in the sight of the Father and of men, to whom does He look, to see the charity she has for Him and how proud of Him she is?
When the time of His Passion came, who followed Him silently? Who gave Him strength to endure the bitter trial of the flogging? In the injustice of the false council and governor that condemned Him, who was in His memories as the one who offered Him consolation? As He carried the rough Cross, who followed the drops of Divine Blood, silently weeping? As He was dying on the Cross, who stood under Him, the Immaculate New Ark of the Covenant, face red with His Blood, eyes stained with tears, and Heart torn in two? Who stood there, having a Mother’s Right to her Son, freely offering Him to the Father for the salvation of the world and giving Him up even as was prophesied afore in the person of Abraham offering Isaac in submission to the Will of God, or in the person of the great Matriarch Hannah, who offered her only son to God in equally perfect obedience?
In the relationship between Jesus and Mary, the Church finds Her innermost being and constitution. All of Her doctrines flow from this bond, all of Her strength is found in their Hearts, all the Truth of Her practices is found in their Sacred Lives; for Christ is the fullness of all Revelation, and He is found nowhere but in and through Mary, and not without her. When the Priest offers the Sacrifice of the Mass, who does he emulate but the one who stood there at Calvary, offering her Son and releasing her right to Him on our behalf? In his relationship to the Blessed Sacrament, which he is the Sacred Guardian and Protector of, and in which he calls at his word Our Lord Jesus Christ into this world, who do we see, but the son who takes after his Mother? When he calls upon the Holy Ghost to sanctify and change the gifts of bread and wine, does not he and the Spirit call with one voice, just as Mary did with her fiat in the Holy Ghost at the Incarnation? For in both cases the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come,” and our Eucharistic Lord comes into this world at that word. For the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Priesthood of Christ, and she is the Mother of His Priests; they are fruit from her Vine, and they emulate their Mother in all things relating to her relationship with God her Son.
In the Church as a whole, spread throughout the world, God is truly mediated through Her; in Her and through Her, by His design, is only where He is to be found. For in the Eucharist the Lord is truly born of Her into the world, and in the Tabernacle She is ever pregnant with Him. Sacred Revelation, Scripture and Tradition, are born of the Church and are protected by Her, and in them Christ the eternal Word is present. Just as Mary relates to God, so the Church relates to God; in Mary as a Son, and in a similar way in the Church. When you look at the Church, see the Blessed Virgin Mary; when you look at the Blessed Virgin Mary, see the Church. In this sacred relationship between Mary/the Church and God, we find the Catholic Truth regarding where God is to be found: in the womb of Holy Mother Church, in the Eucharist and in Revelation, through the protection and guardianship of the Church Herself, which models after the Blessed Virgin.