The Ecstasy of the Cross, Caroline Papa
Over the past few years, I have been drawn into the immense beauty of the Cross. Its beauty was something that at first left me second guessing my judgement of beauty. I thought, “Lord, this is pain. This is suffering, and quite frankly a bit gory. How can I be attracted to your wounds?” After stepping into these questions, I came to understand that yes, there is pain and suffering on the cross. In addition to this, covered in the blood of redemption, there is also a Bridegroom. A Bridegroom fully exposed for his beloved. His vulnerability showed the church what a sincere gift looks like.
As I continued to pray about the cross and what this longing was to be near to him, I became inspired to express my prayer artistically. This led to the painting which the Lord prompted me to name, “Ecstasy of the Cross.” When I first felt him whisper the painting’s name I was honestly in shock. I thought, “Lord, that is so intimate!” I felt him tenderly remind me that the reality of the cross is indeed very intimate. It is a place of total self-giving. A sanctuary of love that pours forth openly, without reserve, in gift for the beloved. I began to see at last! “Yes!” I thought. It is no wonder I am so drawn to your wounds. They are the very source of love. The very fountain of mercy, goodness, beauty, truth, and all that is love.
There is still so much mystery to it all, as there always is with Christ, but I think the greatest shock for me was that I came to understand that he too wants me close to his wounds. He too desires my love, my vulnerability, my gift of intimacy with him. That he is longing far greater than I am.
During this crazy time in the world I invite you to enter into the mystery of the cross. See what beauty you might find in the midst of suffering. What gift of love is waiting for you. Meditate with his passion. Ponder what is looks like to comfort Jesus on his cross. Ponder what is looks like for Jesus to help you with your own cross! Step into the immense opportunity for love that we have this lent. He is indeed thirsting for you.
“After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said, “I thirst.” John 19:28
I think back on the month of June and see a blur of Nutella and Moana. After being drenched in the graces of ECHO Nola, I came home to begin the daunting task of babysitting my cousin’s three munchkins (aged 6, 4, and 2). Soon enough, the words from the talks at ECHO were being drowned out by Disney. My conversations about God and humanity transformed into fantastical stories about Dinosaur puppies, and my time alone with Jesus started to become overwhelmed with thoughts of the kids, what they needed, and what new games we could play.
But God, being the loving Father that He is, being the perfect Lover, didn’t jealously wait for me to return to Him in the Adoration Chapel but instead found me in the midst of this Nutella – covered summer. I could go on and list thousands of way He did this every day, but instead, I’ll focus on one. He met me in the words of a Moana song.
We are beyond blessed with an amazing community of teens, young adults, priests, consecrated men and women, and families who are striving to live out Christ's invitation to authentic love and who have gifts to share their journeys through writing.