Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ecce Lignum Crucis: Behold the Wood

We come here, we observe, we see where the young hearts are, what they are listening to, what helps them to pray.  And after we survey this landscape, we try as best we can to add to it.

That's what is at the heart of our advocacy of Taizé prayer here at Newman Church.  I hesitate to say that this French community is a "trend" or the "latest thing," for the brethren themselves would reject such a notion.  It's too calming to be trendy.  And it's not new – Taizé came to birth as a sanctuary for people fleeing the perils of the Second World War, and have now become quite a different sort of sanctuary, especially for young people seeking out spiritual truths in an age sucked dry by secularism.

Frére Roger, Taizé's founder, was a man of the Spirit, and as such simply allowed the winds of spirituality to bring their craft where it would – which, in this case, would be the entire world... including Ireland.

There is a Taizé Dublin Facebook site, and they promote gatherings around the Archdiocese (as they did for us, graciously, on Tuesday of Holy Week this year).  Those who love this spirituality know no age bracket.  But a good many are from the ranks of young professionals here in Dublin – a demographic we really hope to engage here at Newman's University Church.

The focal point for Taizé prayer is a large wooden cross, most often Byzantine in shape, style and theme.  Early this year, my colleague, Fr. Bill Dailey, c.s.c., and I decided that it would be well worth it to commission a cross for Newman's University Church.  And we knew of such an artist: a young Romanian woman who had created a similar Taizé cross just down the road, in Dolphin's Barn.

Our artist, Mona Maria Damian, started work on the project as soon as the plywood template was finished.  And like any good artist, her work needed to begin with a blank canvas; the cross was first covered with a white primer as she commenced her work.

Most Byzantine representations have, on both sides of the corpus of Jesus, images of Mary and St. John standing on either side.  But to accentuate the placement of this cross, ours will instead display the figures of Bridget and Patrick.  You can see these, roughly sketched, in the accompanying photo.

Over the next several days, I'll be posting Mona's progress as she creates a new spiritual centrepiece for our gatherings.  And starting in the autumn, this will serve as a weekly focal point for our singing and praying in the style of our brethren from France.

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