Tag Archives: meditation

Meditation on the Passion of Jesus

St. Leo the Great, in today’s Office of Readings, tells us why we meditate on the Passion of Jesus.

“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognising in him our own humanity…

Who cannot recognise in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognise that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding of tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave?

It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of  human nature and the fullness of the godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled in the sight of all: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.”

Mission at St. Thomas More: Tuesday Evening

Tuesday evening at our mission in St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota, Florida, we’re going to reflect on the Passion of Jesus Christ. Those who can’t attend our service at 7 PM (and maybe some who attended too) may find this great presentation by Rembrandt something to study. He’s a great visual teacher of scripture.

 

Here’s some thoughts on it:

Rembrandt’s Crucifixion.

Light from above falls on this dreadful scene, falling first on Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World, even in this dark hour.

The same light bathes those on his left (Is it because blood and water from his pierced heart flows on them?). The thief, his face turned already toward Paradise, has a place among those who followed Jesus from Galilee. Some of them sit on the ground overwhelmed by it all; some comfort Mary his mother; some stand looking on. Mary Magdalene comes close to kiss his nailed feet.

The centurion kneels before Jesus and cries out his confession of faith, “Yes, this is the Son of God.” But his soldiers look ready to leave their grim duty for the barracks and dinner.

On the left, Jesus’ enemies are heading home too, into the darkness. The other thief’s face is turned to them, as if he wished he could go with them, away from this place.

But I notice some light seems to reach out to them too. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

Reflecting on the Gospels

 

People came up yesterday after I gave my homily on the paralyzed man in church and said they liked to hear the scriptures, especially the gospels, explained in the light of archeology and the other historical sciences. I think this approach is a way of doing what older meditation methods called the “composition of place,” using one’s imagination and senses to enter the gospels and the scriptures.

Formerly, we would set a gospel scene as best we could, sometimes using the descriptions of mystics or artists who imagined the time and place as they would, often using the topography, the dress, the world they saw around them. Their depictions are still helpful, not so much because they accurately described things, but from the lessons they drew from their meditations.

The picture above from the 1500s or so of the beheading of John the Baptist is an example. Nothing like 1st century Palestine, but the little light in the distant sky tells us what the gospels say: God sees it all and will vindicate his prophet in the end.

Two engineers were listening to my talk yesterday. One said “There were two miracles in that story. Those fellows and the paralyzed man on the roof should have fallen through. No roof I know could have sustained that weight!”

And someone who knows insurance told me: “Peter wouldn’t have any worries if he had a good policy!”

I think we are on to something.

The Last Templar

For a while now, I hoped that someone would critique TV programs that touch on religious history, but that may not happen. They’re usually too boring to stay with.

I watched The Last Templar on NBC the last two nights.  Just about got through the first night and fell asleep halfway through the second.

The DaVinci Code revisited. Conspiracy theories sell, with a little sex, violence and archeology thrown in, I guess.

Too bad, because religious stories have material you would love to see some good screenwriter explore. They’re human to the core.

Take Peter the Apostle, for example.  He left home–wife, mother-in-law, kids, a fishing business–to follow Jesus.  Did he just pack his bags and walk away?

He was not well-educated, probably spoke Greek or Latin badly, if at all. How did he get to Rome and communicate with people so different from himself ?

How did he get along with the Jews there? Paul had a hard time in some synagogues he visited. Did he get along with Paul?

Where did he live?  One tradition says he lived with a Roman senator in his spacious house on the Esquiline Hill.  Some change from Capernaum.

What was it like to get caught up in Nero’s dragnet for suspects after the fire that burned down most of the city in 64 AD?

But maybe we shouldn’t blame screenwriters for shallow religious dramas, maybe we should take a look at ourselves. Do we depend too much on learned scriptural commentaries and careful scholarly theologians and not enough on our own imaginations?  Not that we should neglect them, but don’t we have access to our religious history too? Why not let our minds roam over our religious stories.

Maybe we need a revival of ordinary meditation?