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The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience.
What may not the hearts of believers promise themselves as the gift of God’s grace, when for their sake God’s only Son, co-eternal with the Father, was not content only to be born as man from human stock but even died at the hands of the men he had created?
It is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate. Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them? When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life? Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?
Who is Christ if not the Word of God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.
Accordingly, he effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.
The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.
He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?
Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.
The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us. Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In loving the creature,
Have you discerned the Creator?
By Joann Nelander
For over 20 years, Timothy has been sculpting large scale monuments for the Catholic church. Working in bronze. Timothy is a figurative artist, his pieces are installed worldwide. One of his most famous pieces, entitled “Whatsoever You Do”, sits outside Santo Spririto Ospital, the oldest hospital in Rome, near the Vatican. Timothy describes his sculptures as visual translations of the Gospels. Timothy also creates large public pieces in bronze. Some of these include monuments that honor veterans and Firefighters. Creating epic pieces that connect with viewers through design and details, not only touching the viewer on an emotional level but also allowing them to feel somewhat a ‘part’ of the piece is what Timothy strives to achieve with his sculpture.
I am devoted to creating artwork that glorifies Christ. The reason for this devotion, apart from my Christian beliefs, is that an artist needs an epic subject to create epic art.
I describe my sculptures as being visual prayers. When I create a three dimensional sculpture in bronze I am quite aware that it will last longer than myself. I realize I am between two things that are much more durable than myself: Christianity and bronze metal. It is between these that I have developed a subtle appreciation for what Saint Francis meant by “instrument”.
It brings me happiness when my sculptures are installed outside; three dimensional bronze works of art are excellent advertisements for any Christian Church. The best compliment these sculptures receive is to amaze and fascinate the most cynical youths of today. If they think that the art is amazing, they will have to think that the message is as well; a ‘cool’ sculpture outside a church may make them think that, likewise, something ‘cool’ is to be found inside the church. My purpose is to give Christianity as much visual dignity as possible. Christian sculptures are like visual sermons twenty-four hours a day.
When visiting the great Cathedrals and museums of Europe, one is given many messages of the Christian faith through the great works of art. However, one message these great masterpieces convey to us in modern times is that the church was all important and glorious….. once, approximately five hundred years ago. Unfortunately, this creates the impression that the themes represented are antiquated and should be viewed in a museum. However, when original artwork is created today and placed in living spaces, the statement expressed is: “the church is all important and glorious….today!”
Saint Gregory the Great wrote that “art is for the illiterate”; the use of images was an extremely effective way to educate the general population. Our contemporary culture is in the same state today, not because of illiteracy, but because people are too busy to read. In this world of fast paced schedules and sound bites, Christian art creates “visual bites” that introduce needed spiritual truths in a universal language.
Christian sculpture acts for many as a gateway into the Gospels and the viewer’s own spirituality. After looking at an interesting piece of art the viewer is curious. “Who is this man on a cross? Why does he suffer?” The more powerful the representation of the art, the more powerful the questions become.
Creating art that has the power to convert. Creating sculpture that deepens our spirituality. Attaining these two goals describes my purpose as an artist.
May my prayers, offered in Your Name, and tucked trustingly into Your Sacred Heart, bear fruit in You, and bring me Your Light, O Savior, Who gladdens the Heart of Our Father.
From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel
Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.
Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.
In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens—the proof, surely, of his power and godhead—his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.
So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.
“Who do you say I am?”
Who do you say I am?
The jars lined the walls.
Each one marked:
A weight and words,
“Products of conception.”
Parts, just parts!
Parts, just parts?
Who do you say I am?
©2012 Joann Nelander
Forsaking the Land of Shadows, yet again,
And prostrate before You,
I enter with my candle,
Wick, barely alive,
Awaiting the gentle breeze,
That will kindle my flame
To blaze forth, anew.
Praise rises in my soul,
As a lifetime of thanks given,
Recall to memory
The reason for my trust.
Can Faith be called blind,
When a thousand thousand yesterdays
Form the foundation of our friendship?
Now, I look upon You,
Upon the Altar of Adoration.
Beauty captures my attention.
The monstrance, a delight to my eye,
As it catches the early rays of morning.
Golden shafts stream from its center,
Ornate with pomegranates, grapes and lilies,
Celebrate the gift of Your Creation.
Yet, You, in Your splendid Humility,
Reside in true beauty, Unadorned, and at rest,
Your work accomplished,
Awaiting only my disfigurement.
What will You with me?
Transfigure in longed for alchemy of Spirit.
By heartfelt confession and remorse,
At Your Word,
Spoken in Persona Christi,
I wash my robes clean
In the Blood of the Lamb.
You do not horde Your beauty,
But send it forth,
To renew all creation,
And, forgetting not the least,
Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander