Thursday, April 30, 2020


Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, said in a letter sent to all American bishops, April 22, that Marian reconsecration would be done under the title of MARY, MOTHER of the CHURCH.” 

He invited all the bishops of the country to join him in prayer on May 1 at 12 p.m. PDT, or 3 p.m. EDT. The reconsecration is timed to coincide with the bishops of Canada consecrating their own country to Mary at the same time.  The bishops of Italy will also consecrate their country to the Virgin Mary.

“Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic.”

Pope Francis declared that the Monday after Pentecost should be celebrated as the memorial of “Mary, Mother of the Church.” This May 21 will be the first time the feast is celebrated.

Archbishop Gomez said, “The first Christians understood Mary to be the perfect symbol of the Church’s spiritual motherhood. And to know that Mary is the mother of the Church is to begin to understand the depths of God’s love for us.”

For centuries, Marian devotions  have included many examples of personal or collective acts of consecration and entrustment to the Virgin Mary.

 Consecration is an act by which a person is dedicated to a sacred service, or an act, which separates an object, location or region from a common and profane mode to one for sacred use. For the Mother of God we are asking her protection and her maternal blessing on us.

Consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God. 

At the sixth Plenary Council of Baltimore held in 1846, the bishops of the United States unanimously chose our Blessed Mother, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, to be the Patroness of the United States of America

Later, Pope Piux XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe  Patroness of the Americas, and said “We are certain that so long as you  are recognized as Queen and Mother, America and Mexico are saved.”

Pope Saint John Paul II consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Pope Francis sent a letter encouraging Catholics to pray the ROSARY throughout May. He also shared two new prayers to implore the help of the Virgin Mary during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” Pope Francis said in a letter April 25.

He urged families and individuals to “rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May,” which is traditionally a time of increased devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
With his letter, the pope included two prayers to Our Lady to recite at the end of the rosary, which he said he would also pray throughout May “in spiritual union with all of you.”

Our Lady of  Fatima- Stephen Whatley- England

 O Mary, You shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who, at the foot of the cross, were united with Jesus’ suffering, and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of the Roman people”, you know our needs, and we know that you will provide, so that, as at Cana in Galilee, joy and celebration may return after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus tells us. For he took upon himself our suffering, and burdened himself with our sorrows to bring us, through the cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God; Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from every danger, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.


“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Our Lady of Lourdes- Stephen Whatley

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Our old friend, SERVANT of GOD FATHER WALTER CISZEK, S.J. made the news again and very timely it is. When  he started his religious life, he didn't know he'd spend most of the time  within the walls of a prison, and much of that time in complete isolation. But  Father Ciszek found closeness to God in labor camps and prison cells, never knowing what might happen to him next.

The isolation Father Ciszek experienced as a prisoner of the Soviet Union brought out heroic virtues that can help those suffering from the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic today, says a priest who will discuss Father Ciszek’s life in a webcast.
“Father Ciszek lived many kinds of isolation,” Father Eugene Ritz told CNA. “He experienced physical isolation from his family, his Jesuit spiritual family, and friends. He often lived in isolation from the sacraments. He lived in isolation from a culture that permitted a notion of God and worship of Him. He lived in interior and spiritual isolation, especially when he could not present himself as a priest or exercise ministry.”

“Many lost faith during their time in the Gulag, including other priests,” said the Pennsylvania priest. However, Father Ciszek showed the virtue of fortitude in his isolation. Ritz praised  Father Ciszek’s “firmness in difficulty, his constancy in pursuit of the good, and his resolve to resist temptation, conquer fear and face tremendous trials.”

Father Ritz’s presentation, “Living in Isolation: The Story of Father Walter Ciszek,” will be livestreamed Tuesday, April 28 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. The event is presented by the diocese’s Commission for Young Adults.

“One of my favorite lessons of Father Ciszek is that Christ alone guarantees success,” he said. “It was his message to the priests in the labor camp in Siberia that in their struggles of being isolated from their families, friends, parishioners, religious communities, and too frequently the celebration of the Sacraments, Father Ciszek called them to refocus on the person of Christ and His providence.”

The lecture is linked to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed some 200,000 people worldwide.

The pandemic has left many people isolated. Those in the hospital are barred from receiving visits. In dozens of countries authorities have ordered millions more to stay at home, disrupting family life, social life and economic life around the world.

Who better to have as an intercessor in these times, than someone who not so long ago knew isolation and loss of freedom!

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Nikolai Kofanov- Russia
Today is the feast of SAINT GEORGE  (c. 275/280 – April 23, 303), the patron saint of England and also of my family- the Georges!  He is patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers (George means farmer in Greek), riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis. In recent years he has been adopted as patron saint of Scouts.  He is also known as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints venerated together because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases, including those caused by virus!

He is the patron saint of many other countries including GreecePortugal, PalestineEthiopia, Georgia, and RussiaMoscow alone has 41 Churches with the name of Saint George, and the Moscow city Coat of Arms is of St George on a horse killing the dragon.

The Ethiopians attributed their victory over invading Italian colonizers at the Battle of Adwa on the feast day of St George in 1896 to the Dragon Slayer's intercession.

St George stands out among other saints and legends because he is known and revered by both Muslims and Christians.

If we look at the amount of art through the centuries, it can be said that he is the most popular saint in history. There are literally thousands of holy icons surviving, of St George killing a dragon, found in all parts of the Christian world, spanning centuries.

Olaf Rude- Danish
 The story of St George and the Dragon symbolizes when good wins over evil, and is very famous. Compare Book of Revelation chapters 12-13.  According to a legend, St George of Lydda killed a dragon and saved the lives of many people. It is sometimes called 'The Golden Legend'. 

In Sweden, the Princess symbolizes the nation of Sweden, and the dragon represents a foreign army of enemies. The story was passed from parent to child through songs in Russia.

We are all familiar with the tale of the knight on the white steed, coming to the rescue of a princess in peril who is about to be sacrificed to a dragon, terrorizing the local citizenry. Stalwart in his faith in God, George slays the evil monster, converts the pagan state to Christianity, then, gives his reward away to the poor and/or marries the princess.

A holy dragon-killer certainly carries the aura of victory about him, and there have been numerous battlefield sightings of St George. He is said to have appeared in the 11th century to help Crusaders at the Siege of Antioch and lead them in scaling the walls of Jerusalem. He was also a frequent combatant on the side of Christians in their battles with the Moors in Spain. St. George favored the English with a visitation, when they defeated the French at Agincourt in 1415, and there are stories of British troops seeing him with a heavenly cavalry over the battlefield of Mons in 1914 during World War I.

Feodosiy Humeniuk- Ukraine

Sifting through the miraculous dragon and torture tales, is there anything we can say with certainty about St George? Yes and no. 

                           God of hosts,
                           who so kindled the flame of love
                           in the heart of your servant George
                           that he bore witness to the risen Lord
                           by his life and by his death:
                           give us the same faith and power of love
                           that we who rejoice in his triumphs
                           may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection;
                           through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Anglican collect on April 23: the Festival of George)

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Here is the full text of Pope Francis' homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, delivered April 19 at Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome.

Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord’s resurrection; today we witness the resurrection of his disciple. It has already been a week, a week since the disciples had seen the Risen Lord, but in spite of this, they remained fearful, cringing behind “closed doors” (Jn 20:26), unable even to convince Thomas, the only one absent, of the resurrection. What does Jesus do in the face of this timorous lack of belief? He returns and, standing in the same place, “in the midst” of the disciples, he repeats his greeting: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19, 26). He starts all over. The resurrection of his disciple begins here, from this faithful and patient mercy, from the discovery that God never tires of reaching out to lift us up when we fall. He wants us to see him, not as a taskmaster with whom we have to settle accounts, but as our Father who always raises us up. In life we go forward tentatively, uncertainly, like a toddler who takes a few steps and falls; a few steps more and falls again, yet each time his father puts him back on his feet. The hand that always puts us back on our feet is mercy: God knows that without mercy we will remain on the ground, that in order to keep walking, we need to be put back on our feet. 

You may object: “But I keep falling!”. The Lord knows this and he is always ready to raise you up. He does not want us to keep thinking about our failings; rather, he wants us to look to him. For when we fall, he sees children needing to be put back on their feet; in our failings he sees children in need of his merciful love. Today, in this church that has become a shrine of mercy in Rome, and on this Sunday that St John Paul II dedicated to Divine Mercy twenty years ago, we confidently welcome this message. Jesus said to St Faustina: “I am love and mercy itself; there is no human misery that could measure up to my mercy” (Diary, 14 September 1937). 

At one time, the Saint, with satisfaction, told Jesus that she had offered him all of her life and all that she had. But Jesus’ answer stunned her: “You have not offered me the thing is truly yours”. What had that holy nun kept for herself? Jesus said to her with kindness: “My daughter, give me your failings” (10 October 1937). We too can ask ourselves: “Have I given my failings to the Lord? Have I let him see me fall so that he can raise me up?” Or is there something I still keep inside me? A sin, a regret from the past, a wound that I have inside, a grudge against someone, an idea about a particular person... The Lord waits for us to offer him our failings so that he can help us experience his mercy. 

Let us go back to the disciples. They had abandoned the Lord at his Passion and felt guilty. But meeting them, Jesus did not give a long sermon. To them, who were wounded within, he shows his own wounds. Thomas can now touch them and know of Jesus’ love and how much Jesus had suffered for him, even though he had abandoned him. In those wounds, he touches with his hands God’s tender closeness. Thomas arrived late, but once he received mercy, he overtook the other disciples: he believed not only in the resurrection, but in the boundless love of God. And he makes the most simple and beautiful profession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). Here is the resurrection of the disciple: it is accomplished when his frail and wounded humanity enters into that of Jesus. There, every doubt is resolved; there, God becomes my God; there, we begin to accept ourselves and to love life as it is. 

Dear brothers and sisters, in the time of trial that we are presently undergoing, we too, like Thomas, with our fears and our doubts, have experienced our frailty. We need the Lord, who sees beyond that frailty an irrepressible beauty. With him we rediscover how precious we are even in our vulnerability. We discover that we are like beautiful crystals, fragile and at the same time precious. And if, like crystal, we are transparent before him, his light – the light of mercy – will shine in us and through us in the world. As the Letter of Peter said, this is a reason for being “filled with joy, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials” (1 Pt 1:6). 

On this feast of Divine Mercy, the most beautiful message comes from Thomas, the disciple who arrived late; he was the only one missing. But the Lord waited for Thomas. Mercy does not abandon those who stay behind. Now, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind. The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference. A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me. It begins there and ends up selecting one person over another, discarding the poor, and sacrificing those left behind on the altar of progress. The present pandemic, however, reminds us that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer. We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family! Let us learn from the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. It received mercy and lived with mercy: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This is not some ideology: it is Christianity.

In that community, after the resurrection of Jesus, only one was left behind and the others waited for him. Today the opposite seems to be the case: a small part of the human family has moved ahead, while the majority has remained behind. Each of us could say: “These are complex problems, it is not my job to take care of the needy, others have to be concerned with it!”. St Faustina, after meeting Jesus, wrote: “In a soul that is suffering we should see Jesus on the cross, not a parasite and a burden... [Lord] you give us the chance to practice deeds of mercy, and we practice making judgments” (Diary, 6 September 1937). Yet she herself complained one day to Jesus that, in being merciful, one is thought to be naive. She said, “Lord, they often abuse my goodness”. And Jesus replied: “Never mind, don’t let it bother you, just be merciful to everyone always” (24 December 1937). To everyone: let us not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone. 

Today the simple and disarming love of Jesus revives the heart of his disciple. Like the apostle Thomas, let us accept mercy, the salvation of the world. And let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a new world. 


Today we celebrate MERCY SUNDAY and more than ever before the world of today begs for and needs the mercy of God.  Priests and some Bishops the world over are trying to find creative ways to bring the Lord to people in isolation.  

As Catholics throughout the western world have been cut off from the Sacraments and often find themselves locked out of their churches due to the coronavirus, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, stationed himself at the busiest intersection in his city, armed with the Blessed Sacrament held high.  

Accompanied by a deacon and vested in a cope, he blessed the people of God with the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Blessed Sacrament. He said: “I urge every priest to do the same in their city. Bring the LORD to His people!” 

The bishop said that the book In SInu Jesu  has greatly influenced his work as a Bishop in this city of few Catholics. He knows the importance of Holy Adoration, especially at this time in our world.

Our old and very dear friend, Monsignor Robert  Tucker, Pastor of St. Anthony’s in Litchfield, CT, was in great form and high spirits as he took his place on a rolling wagon stage with a large amplifier to his left and a crowd of approximately 75 cars filled with congregants in front of him, sitting in their vehicles  lined up in the parking lot to await an outdoor Mass. Ever creative and one to always find a way to bring comfort to others, this dread virus did not stop him.
Photo- JoAnn Jaacks

Each carload was instructed to tune their car radios to a specific radio station, where the service would be broadcast beyond Litchfield as well. Since all churches in Connecticut had been officially “closed” by Gov. Ned Lamont as part of the state’s attempt to curb further outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus, a great many churches were sharing Sunday services via Zoom, Facebook, or other means.

Photo- Jo Ann Jaacks

St. Anthony’s decided to hold a live service on-site for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, while taking all precautions against contagion. The leaflet noted “St. Anthony Church is always open for the past 22 years, since we don’t know where the keys are. So, you may quietly visit but keep yourself at a distance from others. This is a perfect time as an individual and family to read the Bible, or at least the New Testament.”

Church members who had not seen friends in a while due to self-quarantine were beeping car horns and waving at each other. The overwhelming popularity of the event was  to be repeated on Easter Sunday but the local bishop intervened! 

On April 15, the Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces, New Mexico, lifted a diocesan ban on the public celebration of Mass, issued guidelines for distribution of Holy Communion, and told priests they may resume sacramental ministry if they follow state-ordered health precautions.

“We [as priests] have been called by Christ and ordained to serve the people of the Diocese of Las Cruces, to bring them hope and consolation during this difficult time… It has become increasingly clear that the state shutdown will last for some time. Depriving the faithful of the nourishment offered through the Eucharist was indeed a difficult decision, one that I deemed necessary until I had further clarity regarding our current state of affairs, but it cannot become the status quo for the foreseeable future.”

In other parts of the world priests and Bishops have responded, bearing the Blessed Sacrament to the people.

Pastor Msgr. Bruno Lefèvre-Pontalis of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church blessed Paris with the Blessed Sacrament on his church‘s rooftop in France. The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Alepetit  stood in front of Sacre Coeur and blessed the city.

Photo- Francois Mori

Panama’s Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa went to new heights to deliver the traditional Palm Sunday blessing as the coronavirus pandemic forces churches to close their doors. He held the Blessed Sacrament as he sat on a helicopter at Howard Air Force Base in Panama City on April 5, 2020.

Photo- Luis Acosta

A priest in Villatalla, Italy, a small village close to the French border, boldly carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession through his town, blessing his parish, his diocese, and the whole country stricken by the coronavirus.  

Dom Tomaso Jozef Jochemczyk, a Benedictine, sang the litany of saints while processing with the monstrance.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Mike Torevell has been drawing and painting since childhood. He has frequently exhibited and undertaken commissions, primarily in the UK.

He says, "I have come to understand over the years, whilst growing stronger in my Christian faith, that the arts (and for me the visual arts in particular) are inspired by, and have an aesthetic and spiritual connection with, the Divine.  In the eye of the beholder, works of art can reflect the beauty and wonder of God."

He is Risen: Look Here is the Place...
For the past few years Mike has been focusing on Christian artwork for educational and church settings, incorporating designs for Christmas, Easter and Sacramental occasions. His current work derives from a merging of styles and techniques from the renaissance and contemporary landscapes and portraiture, in a range of media - oils, watercolor, and digital artwork. 

Mike is a practicing Roman Catholic and lives near Preston, in Lancashire. He is married with two children. He kindly wrote me with permission to use his works here.

Who will Roll Away the Stone for Us?

I love his work for its seemingly mixed media, combination of tapestry and paint (though I am not sure what media is used here) and vibrant colors which set a mood that draws one in.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Julia Margaret Cameron’s “Three Marys” is different than the other works of art we have seen for this week of Easter. It is a photograph from the mid 1800s. (1864)

Most of  this  Scottish artists's female models came from her immediate surroundings, and she often photographed her housemaids in various biblical and mythological disguises, which reflects her belief in the transformative power of art. This photo is a cunning double play: not only does the picture depict a biblical scene of the three Marys but also all the women modeling for the image, are called Mary: Mary Kellaway, Mary Ryan and Mary Hillier.  The young women have that far off look of one who cannot believe, the pain is still fresh, yet they have a duty to perform, to get the body of their dead Master taken care of before corruption set in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


An artist I appreciate  for her color and simplicity who achieves great expression is 
Hanna Cheriyan Varghese's  (Malaysian, 1938–2009), “Who Will Roll Away the Stone?” ( 1999- Batik)

This lovely work emphasizes the suspense and excitement of  a great discovery. Three women in blue dresses and headscarves, whipped by a wintry wind, walk to the burial site of their master. A sudden thought gives them pause: are they going to be able to move the heavy stone out of the tomb’s entryway? But when they arrive, their concern is for naught, because they find, to their surprise, that the stone has already been rolled away. They put down their jars and investigate.

Batik is a wax-resist method of dyeing pictures onto fabric. It was primary form of art.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


The names and number of the women vary from one gospel to the next, but most artists have chosen to follow Mark, who says there were three.  (
Mark 16:1-7)   "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen."

Japan’s foremost Christian artist, Sadao Watanabe (1913-1996) converted from Buddhism to Christianity at 17 years old. He soon combined his new faith with an interest in preserving the traditional Japanese folk art of stencil dying, or katazome, by creating colorful representation of biblical scenes that he hoped would speak to his people. He said, ‘My task is to stand within the artistic tradition of Japan…Theology will not take deep root in Japanese soil if it is merely an import.”

He clothed all the biblical characters in the Japanese dress of kimonos. And the symbolism used in his art are those his people would understand.

I have often used his art in my Blogs, as I love his style, which so often tells a story in a few strokes.

In the Orthodox Christian tradition the these women are called the  Myrrhbearers, a title lost to  the Western Church, but one that is very appropriate.

Monday, April 13, 2020


The Three Marys

During Holy Week we dealt with the women in Rogier van der Weyden’s masterpiece, “Descent from the Cross.  All four women present were Marys.

For the glorious week of Easter I have found some modern and perhaps lesser known works with our Marys.  One, is by the American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner (d. 1937), who was the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim. Henry was born when our country was on the brink of its Civil War, in Pittsburgh, 1859.  Though his paintings are profound, he normally doesn't get the recognition as he deserves.

This almost austere painting depicts the three women arriving at Jesus’ tomb at sunrise, only to find that the massive boulder at the entrance has been rolled away, and Christ has risen.

This is what I would call a very “moody” work. The artist manipulates light and shadow, thus emphasizing his figures’ reactions to the events, which are not seen, but which we want to know more about.    

One can see the light from the tomb on the face and arms of the second Mary, while the light is reflected on the clothing of the first.  The third Mary in the back is a ghostly white. The witnessing of this miracle has a profound effect on each woman and each experiences it differently, as each of us experiences Christ in our own lives differently, one from another. 

“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.”    (Pope Francis  Urbi et Orbi, March 27)

Sunday, April 12, 2020


He is Risen-  Wayne Pascall

He is risen: His sacred head
Rests upon the cloth no more;
He is risen: to one side
Of the lonely sepulcher
Lies the shroud He tossed away:
Like a strong man flushed with wine
Wakes the Lord upon this day.

                            Alessandro Manzoni

 “Future generations will look back on this as the long Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth... But we know that our Redeemer lives. Even in this extraordinary and challenging moment, we give thanks for what Jesus Christ has done for us by his life, death, and resurrection. Even now, we marvel at the beautiful mystery of our salvation, how precious each one of us is in the eyes of God.”

                                                  Archbishop Jose Gomez, Los Angeles

Saturday, April 11, 2020


Pieta- Franz von Stuck (Germany d. 1928) 

So He came, the long-expected,
Not in glory, not to reign;
Only born to be rejected,
Choosing hunger, toil and pain,
Till the scaffold was erected
And the Paschal Lamb was slain.

Sweet the timber, sweet the iron,
Sweet the burden that they bear!

No disgrace was too abhorrent:
Nailed and mocked and parched He died;
Blood and water, double warrant,
Issue from His wounded side,
Washing in a mighty torrent
Earth and stars and oceantide.

Faithful Cross the Saints rely on,
Noble tree beyond compare!
Never was there such a scion,
Never leaf or flower so rare.

Friday, April 10, 2020


 Finally, we come to our last Mary, the Mother of our Savior. She has fainted and her body takes the same shape as her son. It is a visual artist’s way to illustrate how Mary was so configured to Christ that she united herself to His passion. Hence her grief is beyond measure.  Arnold of Chartres said, “The wills of Christ and of Mary were then united, so that both offered the same holocaust. In this way she produced with Him the one effect, the salvation of the world.”

The work is unique for this period because of Mary's swoon. Her collapse echoes the pose of her Son's. 

This pose was entirely new for Early Netherlandish art. The sentiment, however, is a direct reflection of the mystical devotion expressed by Thomas à Kempis' popular treatise  "The Imitation of Christ", first published in 1418. The text, just as the image here, invites the reader or viewer to personally identify with the suffering of Christ and Mary. 

I am reminded of one of my favorite images in art, that of Matthias Grunewald's Mother of Jesus, in his Isenheim Altarpiece now in Colmar, France (which I saw several times when living in Germany).  Here Mary also is swooning with a  deathly  pallor.  It was painted almost one hundred years after Rogier's Deposition.

The doctrines of Denis the Carthusian also emphasized the significance of the Virgin Mary and her belief in Christ at the moment of his death. Denis expresses the conviction that the Virgin Mary was near death when Christ gave up his spirit and Rogier's  painting powerfully conveys this idea.  

Note the pallor of her skin against the bluest of garments.  This white contrasts sharply with the lilac of her lips, the washed-out pink of her eyes as they roll backwards. Five tears trickle down her face, one about to drop off her pale chin.

Was Rogier aware of a sequence of grief when he created his masterpiece?  The younger Mary Salome has an almost quiet grief, while the older Mary Clopas sobs into a cloth. Both stand upright, while the third  Mary, (Magdelene) is almost prostrate with sorrow  and the sorrowful Mother Mary  has collapsed with only St. John and her younger sister holding her up.  In her fall, her body takes on the same shape as her Son's, implying that her suffering is close to His. We know Mary’s own suffering for her Son makes her co-redemptrix. 

(The title “co-redemptrix” is not a claim to equality with Jesus, but an obedient and free cooperation with Him in suffering. Mary is “co-redemptrix” because of her unique maternity. She holds the title for all of us since she is the Mother of all.)