Palm Sunday, we begin with such celebration as we recall the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Quickly though, we enter into the solemnity of this Mass, as we hear the reading of our Lord’s Passion, a reading that brings chills to me whether I read it silently to myself or hear it delivered as a Reader’s Theater as it was shared today. I have been graced by a profound Lenten journey this year and now I prepare myself spiritually for the anniversary of the Washing of the Feet and special recollection of Holy Orders, the Veneration of the Cross, time spent in the garden with Jesus, the Holy Stations of the Cross, the Holy Sacrifice through our Lord’s Crucifixion and finally, the Baptism of the Catechumens, the Rite of Initiation for the Elect and Catechumens, the renewal of marriage vows and the sharing and celebration of the Easter Resurrection. It is such a beautiful journey…full of heart ache and of celebration. I am grateful and filled with anticipation!
Many Christians are inspired, warmed and in some ways experience a sort of conversion by viewing these works of art. The paintings have become iconic in their interpretations and are known as some of the greatest religious paintings of the contemporary world. This is a convincing argument for art speaking for itself, without context. One can be completely ignorant of the antics and disturbing ‘reality’ of the artist in the day. There has been great speculation and discussion about the sincerity of his later conversion to the Catholic church (probably politically convenient for the time). There are detailed autobiographical records of Dali’s dreams and fantasies captured in Andre Parinaud’s book, The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali. These are both spectacular and disturbing. After reading this book, it was difficult for me to ever look at these religious icons, however beautiful technically and symbolically, in the same way.
I think that the following series of films really do justice to the background on the work, Christ of St. John of the Cross. I hope that my readers will take the time to view these.
My daughter joined me in the Chapel this morning. She worked on the vineyards as I continued with the crowds outside of the two windows. Father came to visit with us for a short time and a mother stopped by to tell us that just before our arrival, there were no fewer than thirty grade two youngsters in the space…looking at the wall…as they were taught about the symbols of the wine and the bread in preparation for their first Holy Eucharist.
From there, they were seated in the church itself, rehearsing and learning about this huge opportunity. The two of us were happy to be listening to the teaching voices and the voices and laughs of children while we worked. We quietly spoke to one another and wondered about The Last Supper as we painted. It was a treasured time for me…it meant so much for her to be sharing this space with me…and for her to be painting.