Author Topic: The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made  (Read 284 times)

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Online Millee

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The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made
« on: April 18, 2014, 11:31:49 AM »

Tucked away in a central Parisian museum that was once a railway station, there hangs an Easter painting quite unlike any Gospel masterpiece created before or after it. It is not painted by a Rembrandt or a Rubens or the patron saint of artists, Fra Angelico. The painting is the work of a little-known Swiss painter.  For those who make a trip to see it, viewing the canvas is a special spiritual experience in their lives.

The work does not even show the risen Jesus.  It merely portrays two witnesses, Jesus’ oldest and youngest apostle.  The youngest who was the only man brave enough to stay by Jesus’ cross and the only one who did not die a martyr’s death as a result of it. The oldest apostle who first denied Jesus in fear, yet ultimately chose to be crucified upside down by the Roman authorities rather than deny Christ’s resurrection.

In “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection” by Eugène Burnand, John clasps his hand in prayer while Peter holds his hand over his heart.  The viewer feels the rush as their hair and cloaks fly back with the wind.  They are sprinting towards discovery of the moment that forever altered heaven and earth.  As you look at it, engage for a moment in what the Catholic blogger Bill Donaghy calls “the visual equivalent of Lectio Divina.”  As Donaghy notes, “This Resurrection scene does not put us before still figures near a stagnant stone, or figures standing with stony faces in a contrived, plastic posture, pointing to an empty tomb. This scene is dynamic; we are in motion.”

During his time, Burnand was fascinated by the possibilities of the emerging art of photography. Ironically, he would later be dismissed in the twentieth century as too “bourgeois” and anti-modernist when in fact he was merging his love of tradition with his interest in new technological ways of capturing the human person.  His painting feels cinematic long before cinema existed as a major art form.

Through the movement and immediacy of the scene, the preceding minutes with Mary Magdalene are palpable.  In a sense, she is in the painting too.  “You can almost hear her voice in the background, can you not, a few minutes earlier, as she burst into their house…” writes the Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell in an Easter sermon meditating on the painting.

Apart from Jesus’ mother, no other three participants capture the closeness of Jesus’ encounter with humankind quite like John, Peter and Mary of Magdala. Their interactions with Christ embody a relationship to God previously unimaginable to mankind.  Jesus turning to Peter as they sit by the fire and asking three times, “Do you love me?”, thereby washing away the sin of the three denials past; Christ turning to John in the midst of his suffering and saying, “Behold, your mother,” giving her to the Church entire.  And, of course, the beautiful moment about to transpire in which Jesus’ merely says Mary’s name and she recognizes Him with a cry of “Rabbouni!”  They are the moments which cause one to wonder how those who truly hate Christianity (not merely disbelief it) can remain so hostile to its narrative beauty.

Burnand’s work was part of a late nineteenth century version of the new evangelization. The public, particularly in the United States, desired original religious imagery.  Burnand lived in an era in which a revived spiritual hunger fought against the push of emerging atheistic philosophies, philosophies that would eventually consume a continent and leave only a struggling remnant of European Christendom in its wake.

He was “an illustrator of popular working types: collectors of coal, sowers in the field and even penitent woodsmen praying at a roadside cross,” writes Gabriel P. Weisberg, a professor of art history at the University of Minnesota. For him the image of two fishermen racing toward a supernatural realization about the death of a carpenter would be instinctive.

Look into Peter’s wide open eyes and John’s intense gaze.  Their eyes contain a mix of anxiousness and hope, the way a parent or grandparent’s eyes look at the news of an impending birth.  A new life is about to emerge, but there is still uncertainty because it is a mystery beyond full human comprehension or control. Peter and John’s faces capture the same sense of anticipation.

Burnand created a sparse, simple painting capturing two of the most important players in the greatest story ever told. Meditate upon their faces as Burnand intended you to do and through them discover the empty tomb.

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Re: The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 11:44:17 AM »

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Re: The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2014, 12:09:22 PM »
The Passion of the Christ The Most Amazing Love Story of all Time

By Alex F. Metherell, MD, PhD

Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” has generated more controversy in the media than any movie in recent memory. One of the main criticisms has been that the violence the movie depicts is excessive. The fact is that neither the flogging nor the crucifixion as shown was as bad or as violent as the actual event – as I will explain later.

I became interested in the medical and engineering aspects of the crucifixion when, as a relatively new believer, I attended medical school at the University of Miami in Florida in 1974-1976. I already had my engineering doctorate so my medical training made it fairly simple to work out the physiology of whole process, which was confirmed later in the JAMA paper published by W. D. Edwards, et. al. in 1986. The engineering load analysis, when added to the physiological information, will make it obvious why the Roman form of crucifixion is the most horrible, cruel, painful and humiliating form of execution ever devised.

I could describe it all in antiseptic impersonal terms removed from the actual event, which would make it easier for our minds to bear. Instead, I will describe it as we are going along following the events as they actually happened to our Lord and Savior as depicted in the movie by Gibson. As a physician it is easy to be impersonal and detached, but the subject matter demands that we experience it in our hearts as well as our minds – so that we can know how great a price he paid to redeem us and so that we may love him all the more. So, bear with me because this is going to be simultaneously a horrifying and wonderful experience for us all.

History of Crucifixion

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians about 1000 BC. It began by tying the person by their hands over their head to a tree so that the body was suspended by the hands. If the person has his feet suspended or weighed down, the rib-cage is held in the inhaled position and breathing becomes very difficult, being only by contracting the abdominal

muscles to force the diaphragm up to exhale a small amount of air. This requires a considerable amount of effort even if in the best of physical conditions. Death comes in minutes or an hour from slow suffocation. The dying process can be prolonged by providing limited support around the buttocks or for the feet to push up.

Crucifixion techniques continued to develop over the years with refinements being made by Alexander the Great, who used it in Egypt and Carthage. The Romans eventually perfected it to produce the maximum pain and suffering possible with the greatest degree of humiliation for the victim. This is why the victims were nearly always completely naked. ...
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“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but rather he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams, April 16, 1781.

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