A Wooden Monstrance
God's glory on the Crucifix
Every year with the advent of Holy Week, my family watches the Passion of the Christ. Each time, I find a new truth for contemplation, beautiful and shattering. This year, I noticed a peculiar action at the foot of the Cross.
After Christ’s Hands and Feet have been extended in offering to the Father, the soldiers brutally fasten them in place. From a small distance, Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John watch in agony as Our Lord endures this suffering.
The soldiers lash ropes to the Crucifix and gradually, slowly, they begin hoisting the Crucifix, up, up, up. Mary Magdalene, who has been sobbing during the nailing of her beloved Lord, falls silent as she watches. The Crucifix falls into place, raising Christ up upon it.
She stares up at him, completely silent and seemingly dead to all around her except for Christ. Then, without a word, without taking her eyes off her Lord, she drapes her veil over her wind-blown hair.
At first, I found this small gesture odd. But then I realized Mary’s expression is similar to a woman in adoration who silently drapes a chapel veil over her head. She veils her hair out of reverence and awe of her Lord. She ignores all the turmoil surrounding her, the thousands of throngs encircling her and the thousands of shouts rising up. She only sees Him.
In adoration, we intellectually know that the monstrance holds the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. But I think too often we become numb to the awe of this beautiful gift of kneeling before Our Lord in this way. Too often we forget where we are: at the foot of the Cross with Christ.
If we peel back the accident of the tiny host, we find Christ stretched on the Cross, extending His Arms out and calling out His thirst for us. If we strip the sunny gold of the metal encasement, we find the rough, wooden beams of the first monstrance which bore the Body of Christ. If we remove the wooden pews, stained windows, and cushiony kneelers, we are on Mount Calvary, witnessing the God-Man raised upon the Cross in love for us.
Never must we forget to Whom we genuflect and bow our heads when we enter our pew. Never must the golden shell distract from Who is present in the monstrance. Never must we forget that in adoration, we kneel at His Cross in prayer. Perhaps then, we may remember just how much He loves us.
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