THE WAY OF BEAUTY
THEME: Individual sin
FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: The following meditation will help us to own our role in the world's brokenness. We have inherited a broken world, yet sometimes we add to the repugnance that exists around and within us. Destructive behavior keeps us from knowing the full love of our heavenly Father. Here we will attempt to become more aware of ourselves in relation to the world's plan.
Sistine Chapel altar wall
"It is never particularly enjoyable to meditate on the reality of sin, yet we reap bountiful fruit in our souls when we regard ourselves in the light of God."
"The only figure in The Last Judgement scene that breaks the visual plane and looks out at the viewer is the penseroso (contemplative man)."
"Still, this character remains a mystery, both removed and yet staring intimately at every individual viewer, inviting us to understand this important reality that will be for all. He is depicted in a moment of realization, with toned muscles clenched in fear. This is the moment of judgment, the moment when we become fully aware of ourselves as sinner's in Christ's light."
"No pay heed to the grayish figure who wraps his strong arms around the shins of the sinner, keeping him from walking freely. The action here can be likened to the temptations offered by the world. Recall the parable from the Gospel of Matthew that compares us to seeds sown in the ground. The seed of God is sown in the world, but often the world houses other plans that arise and choke our growth toward virtue."
"By choosing sin in our lives, we deviate from our true end—God."
"Though God always desires to move in our souls, our choices can deter God's action. We must repent, ask God's pardon, open ourselves to the Lord's aid, and freely receive from the fount of mercy that is being extended to us by our Lord Jesus Christ."
Matthew 13:24-30; 37-42
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
"A simple definition of sin is a refusal to love. Even in our weaknesses, our refusal to love is the root cause of our fall. Recall your struggles and weaknesses today, asking God to ignite your heart with love for others so you might stop separating yourself from the people of God."
The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.