Lent Course. Observing Lent through Art and Prayer.2023
“This painting, which measures 50.5cms x 26.7 cms (approx.. 20” x 10.5”), was obviously created not for a public space such as a church, but for a domestic setting. Its purpose was to enable the viewer to concentrate his or her mind on the suffering and the wounds of Christ. The cult of the Wounds of Christ was a fourteenth- century development in spirituality, in which mathematics played an important role. It was calculated that Christ’s body received 5,475 wounds, based on the computation that if a worshipper said 15 Aves and Pater Nosters each day for a whole year, that would equal the full number of wounds Christ endured (David S. Areford, ‘The Passion Measured’). While it is clear that in this Memling image there are not 5,475 wounds, each drop of blood has been painted with immense and almost patterned care. On the floor to the right-hand side of Christ is a scourge placed in the shape of a cross, the broken handle of a whip and a bunch of lacerating twigs. Christ himself, wearing a radiate crown of thorns, is tied to the column. He is entirely alone, the torturers have left him, for the moment, in the torture chamber; his disciples have scattered. Yet the Christ-figure maintains a serene demeanour, in spite of the suffering already inflicted and in spite of his knowledge of the greater agonies of the crucifixion, which is yet to come. Memling asks us, as it were, to keep our eyes on this figure and through our prayers draw near to God’s redemptive love for us.” Rt. Rvd. Christopher Herbert, Seeing & Believing, p.12
Poem A dream the old song has it, just a dream. I was driving the old beige Camry going round and around and around searching for the Jeep I was sure I’d parked or would have parked near the decaying wharfs down by the sea the day before but unable now to find it though I kept circling back and forth and back alley after alley without any luck then finally thought to press the panic button on my key fob and yes I thought I could just make out the beep beep sound so that I had to believe my car was waiting out there somewhere as now fog and night descended. It was then I remember seeing two middle-aged women witting in an old van one at the foot the other at the head so I rolled down my window to ask if they could hear the beep beep and if they could would they please please be good enough to tell me where the signal was coming from because as I explained my hearing wasn’t very good now and I couldn’t tell if I was even headed in the right direction. They were friendly enough and both smiled back at me and asked if it was a pizza truck or an ambulance I was looking for or if the thing was red or white the whole time these pleasant smiles fitted to their faces until it dawned on me that I would have to keep on searching by myself though by now everything was dark and the signal I was sure I’d heard I think kept growing dimmer though it had to be out there oh God it had to be out there somewhere still waiting for me to find it. Holy Saturday, Paul Mariani (1940 – )