Decades ago, I stood in the center aisle of my parish church looking up at the huge crucifix suspended behind and above the altar. Dad, standing at my side, bent down a little to whisper, “If you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have died on the cross for you.” Since that childhood moment, that message of love has remained with me.
Salvador Dali’s painting of the Christ of St. John of the Cross
Dali’s image of Christ suspended on the cross hung on the wall of my parents’ bedroom. Sometimes I would stand and gaze at it in wonder. The view of Jesus looking down on the Earth from high above was unique. It reminded me that God sees all. I also saw the original painting at the Museum of the Art Institute in Chicago. Perhaps it was on temporary loan. Again, I studied it with intense awe. I won’t say that this is my favorite image of Jesus on the crucifix, but it is very striking.I associate this image with “The Prayer of Saint Francis,” which was also on the same wall of my parents’ bedroom, adjacent to the framed painting.
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Where there is injury, pardon.
- Where there is doubt, faith.
- Where there is despair, hope.
- Where there is darkness, light.
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive.
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
In my childhood I often stood reading the prayer and pondering its meaning. In my little heart I wished very much to be the kind of person this prayer describes. What a different world this would be if all of us took it to heart.
As I kiss the crucifix on Good Friday, I will ask the Lord for the grace to be an instrument of peace.