Happy Memorial of St. John of the Cross!
A powerful moment of beauty and inspiration for me on a recent trip to Avila, Spain was coming across the drawing from the 16th century of Christ Crucified by none other than St. John of the Cross, himself! This unique image came to him during a mystical vision that he subsequently documented in this small, but remarkable work of art.
I had only ever seen it reproduced on prayer cards and book covers, and always felt it has an epic quality about it. I was both surprised and overwhelmed to see it in person. It was so very much smaller than I imagined, barely a few inches at it widest!
(Despite it's small size and obscure location, it later influenced Salvador Dali in 1951 to paint "Christ of Saint John of the Cross", a now iconic image and much larger than it's inspiration!)
St. John's drawing is preserved in a reliquary stand (with a fragment of his bone visible underneath) and sits in a glass cabinet filled with other objects and relics from St. Teresa of Avila during his time as confessor at that monastery in Spain.
The image is of the moment Christ breathed His last, and the vantage point is from above, as if God the Father is looking down on the sacrifice of His Son. The feast of St. John of the Cross falls during Advent and this image now will forever be associated with Advent for me, as it is a foreshadowing of the very 'moment', the whole purpose of Christ's coming: in order to redeem us.
During our Christmas Novena prayer, I have been imagining God the Father looking down on the Nativity scene to witness His Son's birth, and knowing full well, the heavy price He will pay to redeem us. What a selfless gift God has given us! What He is willing to give, just for the possibility we might accept, to be returned to Him! What love!
For today, we too can have in the back of our mind, both images as seen from above. From God the Father's perspective, we can meditate on the whole arc of salvation, from the Nativity to our Redemption, in a single moment.
Let us chose to console the Father and place ourselves squarely in that 'moment' of accepting the gift of redemption as it's being given.
Thank you, St. John, for recording this vision of the Father's love for us.
St. John of the Cross, pray for us.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment...
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