by lefever on August 16, 2011
The pierced feet of Jesus, His hands, His side, the punctures to the crown of his head, the lacerations and bruises on His body, the swelling, the tears and rips, and the dried blood.
A quote from Beauty Will Save the World, (Gregory Wolfe) p.12 :
“…what ultimately drew me to the church [Catholicism] was another facet, one about which too little is spoken. It’s what the great Basque philosopher Miguel de Unamuno called “the tragic sense of life.” At the center of this sensibility is a profound awareness of the ambiguities and divisions within the human heart, along with a stress on the importance of suffering and contemplation. I came to understand why Catholics venerate the crucifix, not the empty cross…”
Many would disagree with me, claiming we praise a risen Lord and have taken Him off the cross, or stating that the crucifixion is not the saving grace but the resurrection; with out the resurrection there is no salvation. I have also heard to display Jesus crucified is to re-crucify Him over and over again.
Perhaps it is just I who is moved by the tragic. The resurrection has little meaning with out the crucifixion. Had Jesus just fallen asleep for our sin, and then rose from the dead, then the pain he endured for our sake is minimized. Seeing the wounds reminds me of the price that was paid on our behalf. A statue or painting of the crucifix are not Jesus, nor a Pieta, but are reminders to me and to others – to all of us corporately – of the “tragic sense of life” and the “profound awareness of the ambiguities and divisions within the human heart,” the “importance of suffering and contemplation.”
What happens for me is my intellectual awareness from academic and practical study, drops from head knowledge to my heart through my imagination: I am united body and soul with the notion of culpability and love.
Nor is it a blame that is scornful or diminishing, rather it is a blame that conjoins me with the Love that pays my way. It is beyond words or description, and that is precisely the place where the Holy Spirit works.
It all works together.
I like the wounds we depict in the arts to remember the suffering, my suffering, and the suffering servant, who yes, is no longer on the cross.
And THAT is another subject of art for contemplation.
“There have been times when critics have confused the tragic sense with mere fatalism. I suspect that is because Americans still suffer from the illusion that they can escape tragedy and remake themselves in the process. The truth as I come to see it is that the tragic sense of life is the ultimate antidote to religious arrogance and sentimentality as well as to the ideological triumphalisms of Right and Left“
~Gregory Wolfe, Beauty Will Save The World