… the words conceal a still greater descent, an even deeper entrance into the world of matter, of the body. God takes this lowliness of humanity onto Himself, its fragility, its fallen state, what the Fathers will call its capacity for suffering, its transitoriness and its mortality. He penetrates deeply into our mortal nature, seeking and entering into all the corners and crevices of our being in order to imprint the trace of His love. He seeks to create a point of contact in the darkest corner of our psyche and our body. From now on our entire humanity is known to God from within. The light of His love that is hastening towards us shines everywhere, even into the grave. From this point on God’s inviting love can touch us wherever we are, inviting us to accompany it through everything to resurrection.
Joris van Ael, Jezus’ lijdensverhaal in 16 iconen, (Averbode / Ten Have, 2007) 13.
One of the things that I have been working on recently in little bits and pieces of stolen time is translating an essay from this beautiful book. Joris van Ael is a Flemish iconographer and the icons reproduced in the book – which can be seen on his website here (go to bottom of the page and look under “Passiecyclus Brasschaat 2003”) – provide a meditation on the Passion and Death of Christ that is true to the iconographic tradition but whose subject matter is not that often represented in icons. The textual commentary is also rooted in the Patristic tradition – and particularly in the theology of Saint Maximus the Confessor – and, together with the icons themselves, is a most appropriate aid for entering into these Mysteries in their never-ending depth.
If I can succeed in turning this essay into readable English I want to have a go at translating the rest of the book.
There is also a French translation, with a longish foreward by Dom André Louf.