Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday! What happened? It seems like I just put away the Christmas decorations. As I get older, time seems to be on fast forward.
As we edge toward Lent, it’s time to decide what we will make of it this year. How will we invigorate our spiritual selves? Repeat our New Year’s resolutions? The Olympians devote years of their lives to get in shape for the Olympics. We have six weeks to get ourselves in shape for Judgment Day! Besides exercising self-control by sacrificing things we like we can put new life into our sagging spirits by any number of programs at our parishes and on the Internet.
Here are some resources you might tap into, compliments of St. Dominic’s church bulletin:
Just Lent: Harden Not Your Heart: A Lenten Journey in Holy Frustration http://@ignatiansolidarity.net/lent
The Generosity Habit: How Daily Giving Can Change Your Life and Transform the World http://@dynamiccatholic.com/lent@dyn
Difficult Teachings: The 40 Most Challenging Teachings of Jesus http://@dynamiccatholic.com/lent
What is Lent? Lenten Calendar with daily reflections and quotes from Scripture, Pope Francis and the Saints http://@usccb.org/lent@
Digital Lenten Calendar: Daily Saint quote and #microchallenge http://@lent.bustedhalo.com
Sacred Space: Prayerful daily walk with the Word of God http://@sacredspace.ie@ sacredspace.ie
Usually the main focus of Lent is the crucifix. As someone wrote, “If you wish to know how much God loves you, look at the crucifix. Today I offer you another icon: Michelangelo’s “Pieta.” This poignant statue captures the essence of Jesus’s sacrifice and Mary’s part in it.
In researching this famous work of art for a project, I came across some interesting facts. Michelangelo was only twenty-three years old when he created it in 1498-1499. He made it from a single slab of Cararra marble. Mary’s body is larger than life and amplified by the many folds of her robe in order to cradle her Son on her lap. Her face is young for a mother of a 33-year-old man. Michelangelo explained that her youthful beauty is the result of her purity. Someone suggested that she is recalling a much earlier year when she cradled Jesus as an infant. She has a look of peaceful resignation.
This face of Jesus is not twisted in agony, but serene. Mary has cloth between her hand and his body as if in respect for its sacredness. The folds of material around her small head increase its size to balance the body.
This is the only piece of artwork Michelangelo signed. His name is on Mary’s sash. It’s said that he added it one night after he heard someone viewing it attribute it to another artist.
Someone attacked the statue with a hammer and shattered pieces. Workers meticulously gathered the shards and for ten months pieced them together. Today the statue is behind bulletproof glass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Pieta was shipped to New York for the World’s Fair in 1964. The triple crates and the statue were almost ten tons. The packaging was such that if the ship went down, the crate would float. If the statue partially sank, a radio transmitter inside the crate would act as a location device.
I offer you a picture of this masterpiece here for your reflection. You might obtain a copy and place it somewhere you can view it during Lent as a reminder of God’s love for you and to motivate yourself to make this season the best one yet.