A beloved Jesus is tenderly laid in His tomb. At peace. Again, the halo remains. Spiritual reality does not die with physical passing, but the torch of faith is now in the hands of the living.
Predelles: Blocking of the tomb; the disciples dispersing into hiding and fear; the sleeping sentry next to the open tomb with the banner signifying the Risen Christ.
The shock wave dissipates. The event is over. The mob scatters. Nothing has changed. Or has it? The lines of dissipation seem to separate what was once unified. Between man and wife. Between belief and unbelief. The burden is now on the shoulders of those who survive. The halo remains intact. The question which endures is whether we the survivors see it.
Predelles: Christ's descent into hell; the pieta; the Sanhedrin returning to the temple to find the curtain torn from top to bottom.
The trusting son is now pinned to His Divine mission. In the penumbra between life and death the Father comes to reclaim His Son. The spiraling Divinity forms a halo around Jesus' mind. The taunting man, the pounding hammer are muted in this transitory journey from one reality to another.
Below, the soldiers string Him up but we have helped in our silence. Jesus Himself separates those who are believers and those who are not. And the parasites gamble for His clothes.
Death is perhaps like a sonic boom sending shock waves in all of passion's directions, obscuring all rationale. Jesus is revealed here through His crucifixion as a testimonial that dying is a fact of life. Outstretched, vulnerable, exposed, accepted. The anguish now is transferred to the living
who must cling to a faith that depends on the Unknown. "Our Savior is gone; what becomes of us?!"
Predelles: The sonic boom of death's shock wave.
It is classic poetry that a man willingly dies for his belief, to be absolutely certain of spiritual reality at the risk of physical termination. Thus is Jesus poised between two others suffering the same fate who must certainly have not the same resolve.
Predelles: On the other end of the spectrum it is a haunting fact of human nature that in one instant one can inscribe that "Here is the Son of God" (lower left panel) and in another instant hand over the nails to do the dirty deed (lower right).
The landscape is heaving under the weight of Divine Will (as represented by the use of geometric "force rings". Even the ground swells. The tragedy is climaxing as Jesus falls this final time marking the end of His march. The soldier calls out for the next phase of events to begin. Another reaches forward with his hammer. The Pharisee is fiendishly smug that Jesus is about to be removed from the picture. The two criminals also are dragged off to their respective fates. A woman clutches her frightened child pointing to the unstoppable rage.
Predelles: Jesus lies exhausted in the dirt face to face with His mortality. There is no return no reclaiming precious life. While He is physically pulled to His feet (pictured in the middle panel) He goes voluntarily (third panel) to His death at the hands of this chaotic and bloodthirsty madness.
Have I become the soldier? What is my role in this silent acceptance of the brutal torture of a man who has obviously broken no civil law? It is here that the Divine element begins to reveal Itself as represented by the formation of the symmetrically shaped clouds. Still, a woman swoons to this unexplainable chaos/order. The man gathers his hood against the oncoming chill.
The predelles ponder this question: Jesus is now an untouchable. How does He lift Himself up and continue on toward Calvary? A normal man weakened from hours of strain and torture would lie there and simply be dragged the rest of the way. There is obviously a single[minded determination for this Man to raise Himself up once again to meet His fate. It is so represented in the middle predella that the hands of God alone raise Him. Nearing deaththe Two are becoming One.
His final bit of advice: "Don't weep for me, weep for yourselves." The fury of this madness is now inherited by us and our children. The child moving forward 'into history' looks up to his mother who cannot bear the weight of responsibility. But the mother on the left, clutching her babe, walks deliberately forward into the knowledge of this prophesy.
The lower panels are a literal representation of Jesus' words in Luke 23:29-31: "The days are coming when they will say, 'Happy are the sterile, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin saying to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.' if they do these things in green wood, what will happen in the dry?"
As the city walls recede, Veronica, in a pose of deference, steps up to wipe the face of an acquiescing Jesus. Mob chasers, children, the curious look on from a safe distance. It is the woman who voluntarily intercedes, who puts her Master's suffering before her own danger of interference with the law.
Predelles: A speculation of where the cloth came from; the image of Jesus' face on the cloth; the wailing of the women.
It is Simon's dilemma that regardless of how he feels toward Jesus any involvement with the authorities creates panic and anguish. It is not a place a man wants to find himself-- forced to take sides at the risk of such consequence.
The story line is referred to specifically in the panels below: Simon is conscripted into service against his will. The needs of both sides laying hold of his emotions. And finally, within minutes his task is over, he is etched in history forever and now has a lifetime to figure out the
implications of what just came down and how better he could have responded.
Though the Son of God, she is His mother. A mother does not bow to her son, she embraces him. Even armed with the knowledge of Divine Will the
mother desperately tries to share or take from the child the pain he or she suffers. There is no escape from the agony of human suffering and loss.
In the predelles are represented motherhood: The rearing of the Child; the diminishing of parental influence as the Child grows into His own destiny;
the fulfillment of the Child's destiny and the succumbing of the parent to that destiny.
Perhaps inured to violence from the frequency of seeing it, or maybe it is our instinct of detachment from the actual pain, we may shudder at the thought of it happening but it is impossible to keep from looking.
Jesus, the victim, does not recoil from the attacker so much as the attack. Not so much in fear and pain as for sorrow to what must be. He looks not away so much as within. For strength. To where His Father resides.
Below center: Unaware of the significance of this event a bewildered rural people look upon the storm roiling over the city. Ignorant also to the immensity of his own action, Pilate (below left) returns to his breakfast: It is just another day. Judas, on the other hand, fully conscious of the
severity of his deed throws back the pieces of silver and reels in horror toward his own fate (lower right).
Tangled in a web of hands the guilty and anonymous bear the cross down upon Jesus' shoulders. The soldiers are but mouthless, opinionless cogs in the greater wheel of the will of their superiors, obediently performing their task. Below, the mob assembles. Reflecting the heightened emotional gamut from anger through despair, all are caught up in the frenzy of the kill.
Jesus is hauled before Pilate by His accusers who, holding the sacred text in defense of their petition, point to the spear and demand death. Pilate acquiesces while washing his hands of responsibility. The servant mutely attends his authorities, kneeling above the broken palm fronds waved in admiration just days before. In the background the chief priests retreat in pious repose of absolute certainty against the eerily lit skyline of Jerusalem at daybreak.
The bottom panels, or "predelles", allude to the events of: Peter's denial; the scourging; the releasing of Barabas.
The Stations of the Cross provide an excellent opportunity to address an already captive audience to not only the Passion of Jesus Christ but to the emotional impact on Jesus and the spectators alike. The fourteen steps of the theme are so powerful in themselves it is a temptation to present a small visual aid for each and let the significance of the event carry the weight of the image. But for me it is not just a definition of each step that is important but the psychology of both the event and the witnesses that capture my imagination.
By placing myself as a contemporary in the crowd I become spectator to a gamut of opinion and emotion that escalated in the course of those few hours. It is also our advantage of some two thousand years history to make use of the true significance of this tragedy; that this was more than the brutal torture and death of an innocent man. Consequently, the main picture of each panel is raised to a more poetic and symbolic portraiture, more conducive to the stature of Jesus the Christ. With our foreknowledge of the third day hence we have the advantage over the mob that they are putting to death the Son of God. I have attempted to show this discrepancy of the viewer to those participants in order to heighten the emotional impact.
As an aid to this intention I have made use of small subpanels called "predelles". They provide the viewer an opportunity to be at different places, or witness different emotions simultaneously to help describe more of the whole story and the impact created by this glorious tragedy both in physical and mental capacities.
We are pleased to present this folio of original art work by Bill Lutz, portraying the fourteen Stations of the Cross at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, Nevada. Mr. Lutz found his inspiration in reflecting on the last days of Christ as portrayed in the Sacred Scriptures and the devotional practices of the Church over the centuries. The original concept for the "Stations" or "Way of the Cross" as they are known, dates back to the 13th Century and the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis, a romantic, is popularly known as the patron of animals, nature and the environment. He focused on the human side of the Divine, showing a loving Christ who struggled in birth and death. From the first crèche to the last days of Jesus, he sought to portray a human God who understands what it means to love and suffer. His efforts have inspired many and popularized the now familiar Christmas Cribs and Stations of the Cross.
Mr. Lutz has uniquely captured this spirit in his work, reminding all who would look and reflect that there is a God who has been there, who understands pain and suffering. These are not abstract images, conjuring up pious thoughts about Jesus alone. Through careful and artistic blending, they are powerful emotional statements involving all who are part of the scene, be they spectators or participants. Most importantly, they draw the viewer into the drama that unfolds. We all become involved in the agony and ecstasy.
Fr. Ronald Olson OFM Conv. Rector
Booklet Back Page
Booklet Front Cover
The Fourteen Stations of the Cross
at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral
310 West 2nd Street
oil paintings on panels
Commissioned April 1, 1993
Completed March 11, 1994
Blessed March 25, 1994
Copyright © Billy Lutz. All rights reserved.