Meeting Mary at the Fair
The 87-members of the class of ’65 at Clarion Area High School took our senior trip to the New York City World’s Fair. I’m surprised by the exhibt I remember most clearly.
I didn’t expect to be impressed by the Vatican pavilion. I grew up in a rock-ribbed Protestant family in an equally Protestant-dominated town. I wasn’t sure what the Catholics were doing inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception with its statues, candles, and crucifix, but I was pretty sure they were wrong. I also had no idea what they were doing on Ash Wednesday with that dark smudge on their foreheads.
I followed the tour guide reluctantly into the pavilion where the focal point was Michelangelo’s Pieta. The tour book called it “The Crown Jewel of the Fair.”
A surprising silence enveloped a bunch of noisy teenagers as we stepped onto the slowly moving walkways that carried us into the dark blue exhibit area where we viewed the statue through bullet-proof, ceiling-to-floor Plexiglas panels. The visual impact was as powerful as it was beautiful. I’ve never forgotten it.
Michelangelo captured in the Pieta the fulfillment of words from Simeon to Mary and Jospeh when they brought their 40-day-old baby boy to the Temple for the dedication.“Sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.” (Luke 2:35 TEV)
A soul friend and pastoral colleague was in the eighth grade when he went to the Fair. He said the visual impact of Mary holding the broken body of Jesus became a significant part of his spiritual journey. The Pieta broke his heart.
Finding the Pieta Today
On Ash Wednesday five years ago today our hearts were broken by the mass murder at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. The picture of a mother with ashes on her forehead and her child in her arms is a contempoary Pieta.
And here we are again!
Last night the mass murder at Michigan State University became the 67th mass shooting this year. Let that sink in! There is a shooting reported in central Florida almost every day. It should be enough to break our hearts!
At the very same time, the Governor of Florida and his NRA-owned minnions are pushing a “permitless carry” law through the Florida Legislature. It will soon be easier to carry a gun than to drive a car.
You can’t make this kind of insanity up! In any sane world, we would be banning assault weapons instread of banning books.
What Will You Do On Ash Wednesday?
One of the readings for Ash Wednesday is Isaiah 58. Based on Isaiah’s words, one of the most religious thing I know to do is to support Prevent Gun Violence Florida. The group’s mission is to reduce and prevent gun crimes, injuries, and deaths via:
- A state ban on all semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity feeding devices
- Comprehensive universal background checks and ensuring that the State provides all relevant records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
- Prevent permitless carry from becoming law in Florida
- Continuing our efforts to defeat unsafe gun legislation including Open Carry and Campus Carry
- Promoting responsible firearm legislation to protect the victims of domestic violence.
On Ash Wednesday I’ll forward this blog to my elected represenatives in both Florida and Washington. I’ll once again call on them to pass universal background checks which are supported by 90% of our citizens.
With a broken heart, it’s the most faithful thing I can do.
Grace and peace,
14 thoughts on “Finding the Pieta in Florida”
Thank you for sharing this message and your heart and spirit through this post. I am so very grateful for your voice, your words, and your actions. Thank you for encouraging and empowering to also be a voice and to act.
Flo Flo Sapp Martin(478)397-4742
I agree thanks
Thank you! Thank you, Jim! I too saw Michelangelo’s Pieta at the World’s Fair and have never forgotten it. So powerful! Your connection with what is happening today among us is so on point. I pray that we wake up and stand up against it.
So well written. Couldn’t agree more. Love your amazing ability to put into words wh
Jim, again, your post began so well. But, then, it devolved into more liberal talking points. The day before Ash Wednesday. So much to share with us that isn’t divisive. But, it is your blog, and your words to write. I do take issue with pulling out Scripture to support your desire to speak up, yet ignoring Scripture as it pertains to abortion, same-sex marriage, multiple sexes (beyond male and female), etc. As you stated, “You can’t make this kind of insanity up! In any sane world, we would be banning assault weapons instead of banning books.” You’re right, you cannot make this stuff up! Celebration of the 63 million lives lost to abortion? Protestant denominations splitting because of disagreements over same-sex marriage and gay clergy (and many other issues if we are honest)? Physical and chemical mutilation of minor children? I wish you would use your voice to “shout loudly; don’t hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet!” over these issues.
And, for the record, the banning of assault weapons and high-capacity mags, will have little, if any, impact on gun violence. A shooter can walk in with one gun and a belt full of 8-round mags, and kill just as many people as he could with an AR15. While our hearts should break for those who lose their lives through gun violence, we need to focus on initiatives that could actually help. Like universal background checks, red flag laws, etc.
Great article, Jim.
So glad we had the chance to meet last month at Southern Lights.
Ed Brewton ( Gil Thelen neighbor)
Sent from my iPad
Jim: Thank You for your faith, courage and leadership. Thank You for standing strong for what is right. We really must regain common sense and mutual respect or at least courtesy if we hope to work together to solve this devastating, heartbreaking problem and other problems that threaten the very existence of our nation.
What a powerful piece. I’m sorry for the circumstances that made it necessary. Civilized people don’t allow the barbarians who live among them to kill children. Which seems to be the backhanded point made by the dissenter in these comments. Sort of you shouldn’t object to the rows of children’s graves until you comply with all of the Bible’s demands. So should we still stone farmers who plant different crops side by side? Or should people who work on Sundays still be put to death?
Thank you for your thoughts and the moving way you lay them before us.
Not exactly… We absolutely should object to the rows of children’s graves, including the 63 million who were aborted. Equating side-by-side crops with abortion and child mutilation is not a valid argument.
Thanks and have a great day. SHALOM, Tom Mc
open their eyes and ears…L
Sent from my iPhone
amen ! L
Sent from my iPhone
Thank you so much for a wonderful post!
My high school band played at that fair and I spent my entire “free day” going through that line to view the Pieta. I think I went past it four times. I had just read Irvin Stone’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy” and was convinced, as I still am, that Leonardo was the genius of the Renaissance but Michelangelo was the greatest artist of all ages. I cried when a crazed gunman shot the statue years later. But that grief can’t compare to the grief so many have suffered because of a group of self centered idiots believe their 2nd amendment rights are more important than the sanctity of human life. The craziness must stop.