Praying the Gospel through the Rosary: The Crucifixion

Submitted by Deacon Jim Krupka

An emotional connection to the Crucifixion is not easy. As we meditate on this mystery, we need to move from our world today to the reality of the Crucifixion. That’s why taking time to meditate on this fifth sorrowful mystery is important. We miss much if we announce it and move on. One tool over the last millennium to help this spiritual connection is art. Many great paintings, sculptures, music, and poetry were created for the churches of Europe. A traveler to Rome will find masterpieces in churches and museums. Paintings by masters like Caravaggio or Michelangelo belong in churches. They were created to help us get fruit from the mysteries of faith.
From the Gospel of Luke, “And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Lk 23:33-46).
Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, described artist Matthias Grünewald’s “Crucifixion” as perhaps the most moving depiction of the Crucifixion. It was painted in the early 16th century for a monastery where the monks cared for the sick. The painting was comforting to those suffering from the Plague. They could relate to the wounds in Christ. The artist chose to paint Jesus suffering sores and blisters like those of the Plague. Church Fathers called this the “admirable exchange.” God suffered our pains, so we can be healed and live a new life.
We all experience pains in the course of life. Most are not on the scale of the Plague or wounds of the Crucifixion. By meditation, we can connect with Christ and find some purpose in the difficulties we face. We can also find the strength to find forgiveness from those who have wronged us as Jesus did on the Cross. A meditation tip: find an image of some great art depicting the Crucifixion. Have it in your prayer book next time you pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. Pause and reflect before moving ahead with the ritual prayers.