Last week my brother & i visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond again on the occasion of his birthday (my older brother Dean came to ‘hang out’ with the Savvy Saints : ) … while there we so enjoyed seeing 2 Rembrandts from when the artist was 18 years old (!!! such incredible Light detailed in ordinary settings, such unique talent & effervescent art that is totally BRILLIANT 400+ years later!) But we also noticed this poor Headless Bishop on our way through the gallery:
Saint Denis was a 3rd Century Bishop in France who was beheaded for his faith. Tradition says that after his execution he walked several kilometers carrying his head while preaching a sermon, hence the depiction in art & sculpture of him holding his head. Saint Denis is the patron saint of France.
That was a Very Long Time Ago — but many people today still pay that price for their faith. Given our freedom of religion, ’tis hard for Americans to understand – but there are places around the globe where people are killed for their faith, where persecution makes living out the Gospel decidedly challenging… torture, loss of land, loss of jobs, imprisonment…
And we get embarrassed when people deride our ‘ashed’ foreheads at the beginning of Lent!
So, on this Lenten Thursday here’s a prayer to ponder:
“May the fiery and honey-sweet power of your love, O Lord, wean me from all things under heaven, so that I may die for love of Your love, Who deigned to die for love of my love.” (attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)
…& keep in mind ‘dying’ for love of God’s love might not necessarily mean only martyrdom like our headless Saint Denis in a physical sense, but also ‘dying to self’ – something very appropriate to contemplate during Lent…
grace, peace & faith