visual act of contrition

Today I spent a few hours trying something new. I was wanting to create with my hands an act of contrition that would be displayed on my altar. I’ve been thinking a lot of Judas recently as his actions coincide with something I am currently working through.

A few weeks ago, I had picked up a book in the thrift store that had an image inside that called to me. I didn’t want the book, just the picture, and so I bought the book and brought it home with a plan to simply cut out the picture that I wanted. However, I left it a few weeks because I wasn’t sure just what I was going to do with the picture when I cut it out. Today it was time to do something with the image, and in the end I cut out two images.

One of the images was of Judas accepting the payment for the betrayal of Jesus, and the other was a picture of Judas kissing Jesus. I first laid out a black piece of lace that I had bought to use as a veil for church but that had not been what I needed. I wanted to do something amazing with it, and I did. After laying down the lace, I put the first image out on a bracket for holding the picture. I laid a wooden cross in front of it, and also a skull that I had in a random location.

Then I pulled out a brown easel that my youngest daughter had painted, a put the larger image, the one of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss on it. I also put out a frame with a picture that has the text of the Jesus Prayer on it. In front of the easel I placed an icon of Jesus in the center, and a modern icon of the Sorrowful Mother on the left. On the right I put my modern icon of the Eucharist.

It needed something more, this was a penitential act of prayer that I had spent a good amount of time on putting together. Eventually it came to me to put a small bowl of ashes in the scene. I think it’s very poignant and it is everything I wanted for it to be. I’ve been working through something huge from a time in which I betrayed Jesus completely, with an act of desecration. Once Lent is over, I’ll be keeping the images, but will likely take the altar down and make something else.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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