Friday, 2 April 2010

Holy Week : Good Friday

Good comments all day today about yesterday evening's Mass of the Lord's Supper. Several folks saying things like "I didn't know what to expect, but it was very moving." People particularly appreciated our Gethsemane in the candlelit courtyard garden at Corpus Christi School.
For this afternoon's Liturgy of the Passion I was at St Paul's, where the planning group that I met with decided to follow a simple approach. As I often do on this sacred occasion, I read the Passion alone at a stool in front of the altar. Then we listened to a recording of Purcell's beautiful eight-part anthem "Hear my prayer, O Lord." The Hebrews reading then took us into the great Intercessions, which I led, with everyone kneeling throughout. The Isaiah reading then moved us towards the Veneration of the Cross, which I always find so moving, especially when the young and old approach... And finally, of course, all approach to receive the Bread of Life. Ultimately, although focussed on a death, today - this week - Christianity is a celebration of Life, one big Easter.
The last of my four Michelangelo Pietas can be found in the Sforza Castle Museum in Milan. Unlike the other three, I haven't actually seen this Rondanini Pieta. The scene is now stripped right back. The chisel kept chipping away at the hard resisting marble. Not much is left - bits of arms from previous, discarded visualizations of this eternal scene are left suspended away from the bodies. Those two bodies, of Mother and Son, are now more or less one, like a stone tree struggling up out of the earth, Mary half supports, half clings to Him for dear life, as we all must do.  
The first Pieta dated from 1499.This one Michelangelo worked on from 1550 until his death in 1564.  Fourteen years on one statue... never satisfied, always reaching for some unattainable perfection. But we can't reach it here. We must wait... 

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