Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ash Wednesday

Today, we begin the Lenten Season with the "celebration" of Ash Wednesday.  Today is the day that Catholics receive the sign of the cross marked in ashes on their foreheads.  Each Mass today will last for over an hour as the churches tend to be packed and not only do the majority of people go up to receive Holy Communion, but everyone goes up to receive the mark of the ashes.  As the priest, deacon or Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist traces the sign of the cross on each forehead, they will say the words:  "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (or some other phrase calling for repentance) to which the individual answers silently in their heart something along the lines of:  "Lord enable me to repent during these next 40 days".

I make this introduction today before posting the drawing I want to use as the drawing is not a pretty one.  It is, in fact, a drawing I really did just for myself as an expression of my gratitude for the sufferings of Christ which made my new life in Him possible.  I have debated about showing it publicly, but feel that we all need to be reminded of how great was the price He paid for us and how tragic it is when we cast His sufferings aside as worthless and having no bearing on our lives.  Truly, may we all "repent and believe".

"O Sacred Head", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012 (inversion software used)

"O Sacred Head", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

I used the Pixel Perfect software to try several ways of presenting this drawing.  In its original it is just to graphic for me.  I would guess that today's young people wouldn't even give all the blood and bruises a second glance -- they would probably seem very mild in comparison to these zombie movies!  Anyway, the version above is my favourite -- the black Christ -- these two following ones are pleasing to me as well, but not to the degree of the black Christ which I find very moving.
"O Sacred Head", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

If you find these image too unpleasant, feel free to skip over them quickly, but I hope you will be able to take a moment to try to imagine the suffering of our Lord.  I only seek to remind you, the viewer, of the lengths to which Divine Love was willing to go to show us how special we are to Him -- to show us how much He loves each one of us.

The verse that was constantly in my thoughts as I worked on this drawing are these words from my favourite Lenten hymn which I call in English, "O Sacred Head Surrounded".  Here are the actual words of this ancient hymn translated from the Latin.

O Sacred Head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded, reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory of Thy most Holy Face,
yet angel hosts adore Thee and tremble as they gaze

I see Thy strength and vigor all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor, bereaving Thee of life;
O agony and dying! O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying, O turn Thy face on me.

In this Thy bitter passion, Good Shepherd, think of me
with Thy most sweet compassion, unworthy though I be:
beneath Thy cross abiding for ever would I rest,
in Thy dear love confiding, and with Thy presence blest.

But death too is my ending; In that dread hour of need,
My friendless cause befriending, Lord, to my rescue speed:
Thyself, O Jesus, trace me, Right passage to the grave,
And from Thy cross embrace me, With arms outstretched to save.

The lyrics were translated from the text of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) by Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), 1861. We have here another priceless Catholic hymn dating back centuries! This music is always fitting for sacred worship: dignified, reverent, and inspiring the respect we should all have for the Sacred Mysteries taking place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 
[Taken from the Internet]


Ornithogalum maculatum

Now for a quick change of pace, here is a brightly coloured wild flower.

Ornithogalum maculatum is a flowering plant native to South Africa.  Family: Asparagaceae. It occurs in the provinces of the Northern and Western Cape between the mountains, growing in light, sandy soil, sometimes in the rocks, preferring rainy winters and dry summers.

"Ornithogalum maculatum", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012



miz k.d. and Suki together in a drawing
How many of you remember miz k.d.?  She was the cat I had for 15 years before Suki came into my life.  I am thinking of her today as the anniversary of her death is February 15th, 2010.  After the vet injected her, she fell asleep forever in my arms at 4:15 p.m.  Just before she shut her eyes for the last time, she gently licked my hand.  It is still difficult for me to recall that moment of absolute trust on the part of this sweet, gentle cat.

After her death, I said: "OK, that's it... no more cats for me for a while now -- maybe forever!"  Suki came into my life on her first birthday, March 8th, 2010 -- my resolution did not even last for a full month.  There is just something about coming home to another living creature that interacts with you instead of coming home to emptiness and silence.  I have had animals of all kinds around me all my life and things just don't seem right without them.

As I write this posting, I am listening for the phone to ring.  Remember the appointment I was telling you about last time -- the one scheduled for next week which had been moved to May 31st -- the one with the doctor from the sleep disorders clinic?  Well, on Monday I managed to actually speak with a technician in the sleep lab who just happened to be the young woman who had worked with me while I was going through my testing... a really lovely young woman named Maria (good name).  She called because she had gotten my message for the doctor and had actually sent the doctor an email telling her about my situation.  Well, the doctor was not going to be back in the hospital until today and so she asked Maria to tell me that she would definitely call me on Wednesday and discuss matters with me and see about getting me in for follow-up soon.  And so I wait.  I do hope she will call before I publish this so that I can tell you what she has to say.

[I finally heard from the doctor.  I will now be seeing her either on the 22nd of February or the 8th of March -- I told her that I was having surgery on the 20th but that I would be willing to come and see her, bandages and all, if that was the only time available.  She said she thought March 8 would also work which would, of course, be better for me.  At least it is not going to be the end of May before I see her!  As to the results from the sleep study, she really did not want to go into that over the phone but did assure me that everything they found was treatable.]

BTW, I may be out of the country for a couple of weeks in late May/early June.  I am hoping to visit my sister and her family, attend a wedding of two dear friends and finally attend my first high school reunion 55 years after graduation!  I will keep you informed as I see if I can swing it financially and in terms of my health care needs.  I try not to let myself think about the trip too much as I get overly excited and if it come to pass, it is still over three months away.

Now, may the peace of God, the joy of new life in  Him and the journey of Lent just beginning all be sources of profound grace as you hear the call to "Repent and believe in the Gospel."  Amen

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