Article for St. Patrick Church, McCaul Street, for their Easter Bulletin by Farhad Nargol-O'Neill. April 2010
As a Catholic, and an artist who creates works which are reflections upon our aspects of our Faith, I find Lent an amazingly inspirational time of year. The disciplines which we practice during this period leading up to Easter can be exercised in many aspects of our Lenten life. Stopping to reflect at different times during each Lenten day- we can look back at how our day has been spent and gain wisdom by doing so, thinking of our vows.
Much of my past year has been spent creating a very personal and abstract Stations of the Cross which was, in a sense, a response to the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. The time it has taken to complete each individual station has allowed me to reflect upon not just that particular part of the narrative, but also upon a deep meaning contained within each. This approach has brought home the pain and sacrificial nature of the Passion, but has also allowed me to move past the pain and realize that the end result of our Lords sacrifice represents nothing less than complete spiritual liberation. For me this is the Church Militant at it’s most glorious - a perfect mix of individual and community liberation and the means to achieve it. Freedom not from suffering or injustice, but from sin, the negative habits in our lives that keep us back - a freedom which comes from being in the world, but not entirely of the world.
Station X: “Jesus is stripped of His garments” is a wonderful example of the truth and liberating beauty of Christs sacrifice. In my Station, Christ is the sacrificial lamb of Yom Kippur - that takes away the sins of the world. Wrapped around that lamb was a scroll on which was written the sins of the faithful, and the lamb was then driven out into the desert - showing the ancient Hebrew’s faith in their very personal relationship with God and in His capacity for forgiveness. Our sacrificial lamb is not being driven out into the desert, but rather to the Cross, and His garments which the Roman soldiers strip from him are our sins, which He has worn and borne for the sake of our liberation, and our salvation. Christ being stripped of his garments is a wonderful example of Christ the Victor, rather than the victim, and this part of the Passion says to me very directly that the day of liberation is coming. The day of liberation is of course, for Christians, Easter Sunday - a day of joy, but I find that this type of reflection upon the Passion during Lent can bring clarity of mind, and courage in action to those who believe and want to improve their own lives, and the lives of those around them.