Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday: What is happening?

Paolo ~ Venetian Crucifix ~ Byzantine Influence

The whole creation was changed by fear,
when it saw you, O Christ, hanging on the cross.
The sun was darkened and the foundation of the earth was shaken
for all things suffered with the creator of all.
Of your own will you have endured
this torment for our sakes.
Therefore, we the faithful glorify your great compassion.

And seeing you hanging on the cross, O Christ,
The Virgin Mother cried:
"O my son, where is the beauty of your form?
I cannot bear to look upon you crucified unjustly.
Make haste, then, to arise my Son, 
that I may see on the third day your resurrection from the dead."
Byzantine Service of the Twelve Gospels

Notice the two-toned background over the Jerusalem wall and around the cross in the painting. It feels like a tunnel that might take us beyond: beyond our pre-occupations, beyond our usual thoughts, beyond our unfeeling.

The Apostle John is close to Jesus on the right, but behind him are the soldiers geared up in metal, with shields, helmets and swords. 

And on the left is a tight cluster of women supporting Mary, Jesus' Mother, who is in a great collapse of sorrow. 

We're so familiar with the crucifix, it's easy to admire but in a kind of disconnect. What's happening in this scene? Maybe it's like a mother who bleeds to give birth to her child and then throughout her life, immediately willing to suffer anything, even to give her life for the sake of her child, especially when the child is lost, sick, vulnerable or troubled. Jesus our Mother - Saint Juliana said. And Jesus speaking of himself as mother; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused." (Matthew 23:37)

And women collapse still, suffering for love and crying out over the deforming of their children and loved ones by injustice, and hoping against hope for resurrection, healing, life, peace and fairness.


  1. Your images are incredible. I always have to scroll up to see the detail you chose to describe. This time I studied the image first, I saw this and that and still had to scroll up to "see" the tunnel of 'unfeeling'. Last night began a great time of grace in our calendar year. I thank you for this Lenten season, God is always faithful through so many people and experiences. Yet when good Friday comes it is an unfeeling, to go there is draining . I can only stay for so long and then that 'unfeeling' comes back. And of course that goes for all who suffer around me,

  2. It is as though we are peeling away the layers of indifference to feel the pain that Mary felt as she wept at the foot of her crucified son. O Mary, forgive us for walking through life indifferent to the pain of others. That we may never experience this despair so that we might gain our own understanding. I will strive to be be more motherly to the people that cross my path.

  3. The services during these 3 days and your Lenten posts, bring me to a real appreciation of the faith I was given. I love my faith in Jesus Christ and Mary and am so grateful for all the many beautiful posts, the words, the paintings, the music and even though my church gets itself into unforgivable situations. It has shared the pleasures of the Mass and all its wonderful benefits.

  4. Sometimes there is so much despair and the news of the day is all bad. I find myself so depressed and filled with worry. I will continue to pray and hope that this too shall pass. Otherwise I will feel myself slipping into that dark cave in the painting.

  5. I understand and so sometimes I put myself on a news blackout. Paul Simon sang in his song "Only Living Boy in New York" - "I get all the news I need from the weather report..." And while I don't know where you live it is a great help to be able to be outside and to see what's growing and greening and alive. Watch what's coming up out of the ground; how the light and trees and grass are changing. That's the message of Easter - we can change. I find that helpful.