Monday, June 11, 2007

Corpus Christi

Body and Blood of Christ, 2004, installation, styrofoam, gold leaf, roses and neon. Ten ft. Exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica as part of Curator’s Eye 1, January 18 - June 19, 2004. Kingston, Jamaica.

Following is how Laura Facey, the sculptor of “Body and Blood of Christ,” describes her work:

Upon invitation for this exhibit, it was suggested I create a religious piece. The seed was easily sown and within a few days a rough five inch clay maquette of the Body and Blood of Christ evolved. The piece would be ten feet tall with the chest wound of Christ and a shadow of red roses.

During experiences of the stigmata (the appearance of the sacred wounds of Christ) the perfume of flowers has been evident. The concept complete, I sought affirmation from the universe.

I opened a small prayer book and read:

The only way we can know
the Spirit of God
is by complete humility.
He does not propound theories
for us to follow. Rather,
he helps us in the self-loss
in the following of our whole
selves into following the
naked Christ, ourselves naked.
Then things happen,
for the Holy Spirit is power
whereby we may learn
to hear truth.

Mother Mary Clare (1899-1987)

This is the Body and Blood of Christ given for you. These words are said at Holy Eucharist services in churches the world over. You also hear, Lamb of God, take away the sin of the world.

This is the emptying, the cleansing of your “inner home.” Then, into that prepared place is poured the body and blood of Christ. His life, shared as a divine example, not exception, is now inside of you!

My Christ is virile, whole, and alive.

At any moment we can choose to be a living Christ.

This is the essence of my work.


Images from around the world of Catholics
celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi . . .

Children in their First Communion attire prepare to walk over a floral carpet during a Corpus Christi procession in the northern Spanish town of Castropol June 10, 2007. In this traditional Catholic religious celebration, the procession meanders through streets decorated with colorful floral carpets which are later walked on by the children who have just celebrated their First Communion. (Reuters/Eloy Alonso)

Haitians sing as they take part in a traditional Corpus Christi procession in Port-au-Prince June 7, 2007. (Reuters/Kena Betancur)

Women wearing traditional mantilla dresses participate in a Corpus Christi procession in Carrion de los Cespedes June 7, 2007. The mantilla is an Andalusian traditional garment which women wear during grand and religious occasions. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo)

A man dressed in a red and yellow costume representing the devil, known as El Colacho, jumps over babies placed on a mattress in Castrillo de Murcia during traditional Corpus Christi celebrations, June 10, 2007. This northern Spanish town has for centuries chosen to protect its young from evil spirits with an unusual ritual in which a man dressed as the devil leaps over mattresses each holding four or five babies. (Reuters/Felix Ordonez)

A Roman Catholic altar boy holds up a cross while leading a procession of worshippers during the celebration of Corpus Christi in Port-au-Prince, Thursday, June 7, 2007. (Associated Press/Nick Whalen)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Receive What You Are, the Body of Christ” – Reflections on the Eucharist
A Christmas Reflection by James Carroll
Palm Sunday Around the World
The Triumph of Love: An Easter Reflection
He is Risen!
The Ascension

Recommended Off-site Link:
Feast of Corpus Christi in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.


Anonymous said...

Seems like artists just love to express Jesus with a penis these days. What's up with that? Shock sells better than loin cloth? He's always really hung too. No tiny penis like Michaelangelo's David, no fig leaf. Nope, today's artists like at least a 5 inch penis (flacid) on Jesus. Perhaps the next generation of artists will demand an erect one to really piss us all off. A Ron Jeremy Jesus. Because with all the prohibitions against lust in the New Testament we just all really appreciate an artist who shoves a giant penis in our face and calls it Jesus. Isn't that supposed to be reserved for a fertility idol somehow?

How bout this rule:

Jesus's penis should always be smaller than his face.

That way the artist has to at least include a face to humanize jesus if they are going to add the desired penis. And if the penis can't be bigger than the face, maybe that will put the tiniest of crimps on the Ron Jeremy crowd-to-come.

Anonymous said...

What if Jesus really was hung?

I mean, he's God, right? Why would God shortchange himself.

Sorry...I couldn't help it!

Anonymous said...

Sigh... Eileen, didn't the nuns explain this to you in school?

Jesus truly has the grace to know how to use it. Size is for us humble sinners. ;-)

Didn't you see Bruce almighty?

If you only had faith the size of a mustard seed. ;-)

And anyway, how come none of these artists are cranking out a really stacked Mary? I think there'd be death and destruction. Somehow we're more protective of Mary.

Anonymous said...

Aaah..but that's because Mary is woman...a pure woman, never touched by man. So, we must depict her as almost, asexual. We wouldn't want her to appear, well, trashy! Christ's mum cannot be trashy...

(Father forgive me for I have's not nice to even think such things about Mary...)

Anonymous said...

The whole conversation, and such art, borders on blasphemy. It's not that sex is bad, or that there is anything wrong with the fact that Jesus had a penis or that Mary had sexual parts, its that we instinctively know that sex is a distraction from the Holy mystery of the incarnation and the divine mission. That artists so desparately want to glue a giant penis on a muscular torso and call it Jesus to 'challenge' us betrays a lack of understanding of the divine. The fact that we need to set aside sexual imagery in order to focus on the divine is not because we Catholics are prude, far from it. It is because we know our limitations and that for us humans, a true focused meditation on the devine mystery requires a certain distance from overt sexuality.

I don't mind joking about it. But I think these artists are silly, pathetic wannabes who think that they are avant-guarde.

The true master artists did not need shock value to create works of immense beauty. They did not need to try to 'challenge' someone's sensibilities with genitalia or violence. Where did they all go? I miss them.

Mary is another matter altogether. Yes she is more sacred because mothers are so sacred. But, the ancients did get a bit weird with the whole ever-virgin teleportation-birth such that the sacred hymen would stay intact. I don't think that's a very popular belief anymore (thank god).

Anonymous said...

I think the reason Catholics feel a need to separate sex from divinity is because we've been taught that sexual desire, and sexuality is base within the context of our religion. I don't personally believe sex and the divine are mutually exclusive, although I do agree that bawdy or exploitative sex is disruptive and destructive to religiosity/spirituality.

Not all sex is base. The human form isn't base in and of itself. It was created by God, afterall, and is representative of his great handiwork.

So, I guess it depends on your perspective as to whether or not a big penis on Christ is divine or not. ;-)

As for Mary and her forever virginity, I think this grew out of the whole sex is base ethos. Mary couldn't be fully a woman, and have sired such a child. Silliness, in my mind. But..that's just me. I have a special place in my heart for Mary - she was a mom after all, and in many ways, a mother-of-our-hearts to so many of us.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eileen,

I think that there is a certain amount of stoic tradition in catholicism that involves a degree of conquering the passions with the rational in order to live a good life. I stand by that ancient stoic tradition. I feel that it is also well represented in Buddhism, judaism, and many other faith traditions.

So I don't think I am just naive or out of touch with the human form or antyhing like that. On the contrary, I think that the idea of attaching giant penises to images of Jesus is simply out of touch with that stoic tradition, and naive to a greater truth that is beyond and outside of the immediate human experience - something that artists have lost touch with all of their smug, avante guard prancing. Something that is beyond and outside of human experience is not immediately concerned with genital realities.

But, because *we* are so geared towards reproduction and genitalia and such, it is necessary to put such things out of our mind in order to get out of ourselves and away from a human perspective long enough to contemplate the divine.

This is not a prudish disdain for human sexuality. This is a simple understanding of what is required to bring ourselves close to the divine during worship.