Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thoughts and Visions of Heaven

This is one of my favorite paintings. You can find it at the Cathedral of Saint Paul.  Every time we go to Mass there, I try to catch a glimpse of it before I leave.  A couple years ago, an artistic friend who was off to discern Religious Life (now returned), gifted us with a painting she had done of the Crucifixion, from below - from Mary's perspective as seen in the previous painting. I got chills - it was like I was inside the painting at the Cathedral. It now hangs in our bedroom, and it's the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see at night. I am blessed.

That's my preface to the following - I had reason to contemplate the reason for the prominence of the crucifix in Catholic churches. I publicly thank the anonymous person who prompted this. Not surprisingly, this has brought me to a greater understanding of my faith - as these things often do.

First, God plopped this article in my lap, this morning: The Cross, Altar and the Right Way of Praying by Fr. Stefan Heid. Here are some exerpts:

The cross is the focal point of salvation and of liturgical action...
...the altar is the place of prayer: the cross belongs there, and, indeed, even more so, on the main altar. It is the place of raising one’s hands, mind and eyes to “look upon the one whom they have pierced.” Here, heaven opened up at the moment when darkness covered the earth: the Sun of Righteousness on the cross was raised up at the center of the earth, making our darkness light.

After reading the article, I had the following reflections (please correct me if any of this is incorrect!):

I read somewhere that the snake-on-the-pole that Moses made (so that everyone who looked on it would live) was a "type/foreshadowing" of our crucifix, today.

I suppose also, as Catholics since we believe the Mass is uniting time and space and making us present to, and presenting to us, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (rather than simply a memorial), it makes sense that we would have a visual reminder of where we are - present at Calvary. 

On a lighter note, while I was reading/thinking/writing about all that, followed by a shower, apparently Iain had an apparition imagination. He announced to me very excitedly, when I got out of the shower that...

Iain: I saw Mary on top of my bunkbed, so I was throwing a lot presents up there for the little Lord Jesus. ...and Joseph was there and all of Jesus's disciples.
Me: What did Mary look like?
Iain: like a queen and a princess...wearing a was blue. ...and I tried to climb up there to get to the floor of Heaven, but I couldn't reach it.
Me: yes, you're not allowed on top of your bunkbed.

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