A Mission Moment: Paintings and Prayers for Holy Week

By Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J.

During Lent the Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., assistant to the president for mission integration, will share prayers and other reflections related to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

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As we walk through Holy Week during this Lenten Year of Mercy, we also find ourselves thinking of the bombings in Brussels this week. At least 30 people were killed in the attacks, in what The New York Times called “the deadliest assault on the European heartland since the Islamic State attacks on Paris four months ago, hitting the airport and subway system in coordinated strikes that were also claimed by the militant extremist group.”

I find myself focusing on a few paintings by artist Sieger Koder.

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Sieger Koder was a prisoner of war during World War II who was ordained to the priesthood in 1971. His art is both stunning and deeply challenging. Many of his Gospel scenes include a reflection of the face of Christ. You see the face of Christ reflected in the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper. Christ’s face reflected in the bowl of water and the cup of wine. The imprint of the face of Jesus on Veronica’s veil speaks to the meaning of this Holy Week Passion.

Each contains a reflection of the face of Christ, and they are stunning. 

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Agnus Dei

Given that lambs are infant sheep,
that sheep are afraid What terror lies concealed in strangest words, and foolish,
and lack the means of self- protection,
having neither rage nor claws, venom nor cunning,
what then is this “Lamb of God.”
What terror lies concealed in strangest words,
0 lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the World:
an innocence smelling of ignorance,
born in bloody snowdrifts,
licked by forebearing
dogs more intelligent than it entire flock put together?
God then,
encompassing all things, is defenseless?
Omnipotence has been tossed away , reduced
to a wisp of damp white wool?

—Denise levertov

323True Icon-Koder

Find more reflections from Fr. Brown posted throughout Lent here.

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