Friday, April 3, 2015

The Day God Died...That We Might Live

Today is Good Friday, the day God died. In honor of this great mystery, here are couple things to meditate on this morning to allow you to enter more fully into the spirit of the day.

First, C.S. Lewis' imaginative retelling of the Passion from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. For those not familiar with Lewis' children book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, the great Lion, Aslan, is Christ. In the course of the story one of the four siblings who traveled to Narnia through the Wardrobe comes to betray his brother and sisters. The Emperor (God the Father), from the dawn of Narnia, decreed that all traitors would be given over to the White Witch for execution. Aslan can only save the poor child by offering his own life in his place. Here is how the Lion saves Narnia from the evil rule of the White Witch
"The fool!" she cried. "The fool has come. Bind him fast." Susan and Lucy
Susan and Lucy held their breaths waiting for Aslan's roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four hags, grinning and leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. "Bind him, I say!" repeated the White Witch. The hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all.... Then they began to drag him towards the Stone Table.
"Stop!" said the Witch. "Let him first be shaved."
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan's head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children, watching from their hiding place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without its mane....
"Muzzle him!" said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now.... the two girls could not even see him - so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table...
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch... began to whet her knife....
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan's head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up to the sky, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
"And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor?... when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well?... Understand that you have given me Narnia forever... In that knowledge, despair and die." 
Lewis' great feat, by transporting us into a fantasy land and by transforming Christ into a Lion, is to allow us to look on the Passion with new eyes. To see the horror of God dying for us anew. The passage above is powerful, but the whole story sets it up in such a way to magnify its impact all the more. It's a short book, one worth reading.

Of course, as great as Lewis was as a writer, the maxim holds yet true, a picture is worth a thousands words. Thus, we turn to what Father Barron has singled out as the greatest depiction of Christ Crucified.
Isenheim Altarpiece

Christ is nailed to the Cross
Christ Crucified
Christ dead

May beholding the price of our redemption preserve us from sin. Kyrie elesion.

Note: this post originally appeared on AdoroErgoSum on Good Friday 2014.


  1. Few things. The painting is inaccurate as the nails through the hand couldn't support the full weight of someone hung from a cross. The hands would have been ripped open. Through the wrists would be more accurate.

    Yes today is Good Friday. A day for many to remember a man that has not yet been proven to have existed whom was put on a torture device. Whom knew he was going to rise from the dead therefore not making what he did a sacrifice at all. Were Catholics don't eat meat, for reasons beyond me. Where the details about his life are vague. Like why isn't the book of Thomas in the canon? Or the Gospel of Judas?

    Oh well just sit back and enjoy. Beltane is not too far away. Happy Ishtar all!!!

    1. 1) The point of devotional paintings isn't to convey overly specific historical information, but to be an aid to meditation. That being said, you are wrong about the hands. The angle in the painting is wrong, granted, but the entry point of the nail could well have been through the palm with the nail angled so that it exited through the wrist. Such are the wounds on the Shroud of Turin.

      2) Your second paragraph is full of so many errors you remind me of "Mr. Enlightenment" from this post -

  2. Then I will state a question. Why aren't the Gospel of Judas or the Gospel of Thomas in the bible? Also what errors. I am saying that Good Friday is set up to honor a being that sacrificed himself to himself. Where did the practice of not eating meat show up? None of the gospels make mention of it that I know of.

    1. 1) The Gospels of Judas and Thomas were written centuries later than the four Gospels that are found in the Bible. They were not written by eyewitnesses. They also contradict the eyewitness (and early) testimony found in the Gospels. If you had several eyewitness accounts of the life of George Washington and then found a biography written 200 yrs later claiming he was really a black woman, would you really include that as credible testimony?

      2) We don't eat flesh as a reminder that God died in the Flesh to save us from sin. We also sacrifice eating meat (as well as other things) to join our minor sufferings and sacrifices with His supreme suffering and sacrifice.

  3. Then I am glad I had a pizza slice with pepperoni on it. Also do you have proof that the gospels were written by eye witnesses? From all I have learned all of the gospels were written at least 150 years after the event that were supposed to happen. So the gospels of Thomas and Judas as just as credible.

    1. The you haven't learned enough. The entire New Testament was written before AD 60, Christ died in AD 33. I'm sure you can do the math. No serious scholar (even among atheists) would date Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to the time of Thomas and Judas.

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