Kiss of Christ

A 4158

There He hangs — pale figure pinned against the wood.
God grant that I could love Him as I really know I should.

I draw a little closer to share that love Divine
And almost hear Him whisper, “Ah foolish child of Mine!

If I should now embrace you,
My hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to whisper,
The thorns would pierce your head.”

And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
‘Twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ.

by Caryll Houselander

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20 Responses to Kiss of Christ

  1. annem040359 says:

    Thank-you Jesus for loving me this much You gave Your very life!


  2. mmvc says:

    A re-post from Prayer Intentions:
    Please pray for John, a greatly valued contributor to CP&S, as he is received into the Church this Easter. May God bless him and Our Blessed Mother protect him as he grows in faith, hope and love.
    Welcome home, John!


  3. toadspittle says:

    Wonderful painting of course, by possibly the greatest ever, but it looks to me not like a painting of a crucified man, but a painting of a model in the artist’s studio, posing as a crucified man.
    Quite relaxed, standing comfortably enough to hold the pose, blood only where required for artistic reasons. All clean and tidy.


  4. John says:

    Hello Toad. It is strange how we all see different thing in the same image.
    What I see is a symbol of a job done, of a man who has said “It is finished” and who has “Given up the Ghost”. I see a man who has done his best and is reconciled to his destiny. I see a depiction of a great being, The Christ, who is no longer a man but will be remembered forever in this image and all like them as mirrors of our potential for evil, and the potential for forgiveness of the evils we commit, I see a constant reminder of the Meaning of Easter.
    I see an image that shows us what we are capable of doing to each other , an image that tells of his having left his painful mortal prison, his spirit now resting in the father’s love, having done the father’s will.
    I see an image that has been left for us to enable us to recall the shameful sin of mankind.
    This image and all like them tell the same story each in their own way, each with their own emphasis, but in the end they are the one story.


  5. John says:

    Thank you MMVC, and thank you so very much for you enormous support, encouragement and prayers on my amazing journey 🙂 which I will never forget !


  6. Tom Fisher says:

    Thank you for this


  7. toadspittle says:

    Yes, John, your insight is surely a valid one. The Velasquez is all those things, if you see them there.
    Going all “post-modern,” here: Are you and I “reading” the painting, or is the painting “reading” us? (No need to bother answering that.)


  8. reinkat says:

    After watching The Passion of the Christ a couple of days ago, I have to agree with Toad. It is a pretty sanitized image of a crucifixion, definitely pretty.


  9. kathleen says:

    “Suffering is but the kiss of Christ”

    These astounding and very meaningful words brought tears to my eyes. If we go fuller into what they imply we may discover that we should in fact thank God for suffering in whatever form it comes to us, use it to grow in love and mercy instead of our usual anger and complaining that we should be afflicted, and turn what is nasty and useless (in itself) into something precious for God.

    I was greatly moved by this post on the Crucifixion, although according to great saints and mystics, it was Our Lord’s mental anguish of carrying the weight of our sins on His shoulders that caused Him the greatest suffering. (Warning: this link gives a medically verified terrifying account of the real physical agony of Christ.)


  10. kathleen says:

    Dear John, please be assured of my prayers too for you this Easter. It is a great and wonderful joy for all of us who know you to have you “come home” (as mmvc says) after your long and fascinating journey to the Catholic Church, that you have been recounting to us so eloquently here on CP&S over the months.


  11. toadspittle says:

    “….we should in fact thank God for suffering in whatever form it comes to us,”

    Then we should clearly not try to alleviate our own suffering. How about other people’s?
    But should we go actively looking for it?
    Is it all right to thank God for suffering avoided? For an unexpectedly good medical diagnosis, say? Or would that be missing the point?


  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Yet another trite ill-thought-out rejoinder from Toad (14:08).

    It’s a very good habit (and an easy one when you ‘think’ about it) to thank God for His blessings, but yes, you’ve missed the point, the point being that it’s an even more excellent habit to thank Him for sufferings and setbacks in our lives.

    I remember a Protestant minister and very close childhood friend of mine who wrote a book on it as he was dying. I also remember this book: Power in Praise by another evangelical, Rev. Merlin R. Carothers, who had a profound influence on me back in the day, and thanks for the reminder that I should read him again. If you have time between your ‘walkies’, please consider the comments underneath both of these Amazon links.

    Happy Easter (btw)


  13. John says:

    Thank you Kathleen ! Everyone has been so supportive throughout this amazing journey, and have made the often tortuous road a great deal smoother for me. At the moment, and following the cumulative events of Holy Week, I would not be truthful if I did not own to being a tad overwhelmed by the ensuing prospect looming ever closer; particularly, as it is I think quite natural to recap on the various “highs” and “Lows” that have been inevitable companions along the way, given my Christian antecedence.

    For sure in a very small way, I can relate to John Henry Newman’s struggle,I say “small” but then all struggle is relative isn’t it ?

    The way ahead is unknown from today. Something akin to arriving in a foreign land and having no map and no road-signs, a state of affairs that does not suit well my character or temperament well !, but perhaps this is the whole point , thus I place my trust in God, knowing that in due course of time he will make his plan for me known, I can but say ” I am here Lord.. Do with me what thou wilt”


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad, perhaps one has to be born deaf and blind to know that such conditions can be blessings:

    “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work and my God.”


  15. toadspittle says:

    “…. but then all struggle is relative isn’t it ?”

    Of course, John – like everything else.


  16. Darling says:

    Is it part of Catholic doctrine to thank God for suffering? Christ helped those who suffered. He Himself did not wish to suffer, though he chose it. Otherwise why did He cry ‘ Father why have you forsaken me?’ in His last suffering.

    He gave us our bodies for good purpose, not for torment. Or we would never take medical advice, I think.

    I have never been taught to like suffering in any part of my Catholic development.

    If I am wrong, please tell me. Thank you.


  17. johnhenrycn says:

    Darling: I think part of the answer to your question is to be found in the fact that because of Original Sin, suffering is inevitable. We don’t ‘like’ it, but it is through suffering that we share in God’s plan of salvation. We don’t welcome illness into our lives, and we do what we can to avoid it or cure it, but some illnesses cannot be avoided or cured; and when faced with that predicament we should accept it as part of God’s plan and, yes, thank Him for the cross we have been given, whilst still hoping it will be lifted from us in the fullness of time after its work in our lives is accomplished.

    We can all think of people who have endured tremendous suffering, but who look back and say, if it wasn’t for that experience, I would not be half the person I have become because of it.

    A fuller treatment on the problem of pain and suffering is found in this Catholic Answers article by Dr Christopher Kaczor (you may have to scroll down a bit after the link opens):


  18. toadspittle says:

    Put more straightforwardly, by Dr. Johnson, “What cannot be cured, must be endured.” …And that’s it, really.

    We are condemned to live on a seething, unstable, hostile, planet – subject to torments, disease, accidents, floods, and earthquakes – inhabited and dominated by a race of “conscious” human beings, who are congenitally insane and daily bent on making life even worse than it need be – as the Pope’s address yesterday affirmed.

    …And, apparently, it’s all our own fault – because we are sinful. So, naturally, we thank God for all His blessings. What else are we to do?
    La Rochefoucauld famously remarked, “Death, like the sun, cannot be looked at straightforwardly,” This is true, but I think he might better have said “Life,” instead of “Death.”


  19. Tom Fisher says:

    We can all think of people who have endured tremendous suffering, but who look back and say, if it wasn’t for that experience, I would not be half the person I have become because of it.

    Perhaps that’s sometimes true JH, and as Nietzsche dubiously claimed in Twilight of the Idols what does not kill me makes me stronger But it remains the case that some suffering has no such value. Nietzsche himself lived on as a quivering wreck for several years after his breakdown. Utterly destroyed, but lingering on. He became an ironic commentary on his own assertion


  20. johnhenrycn says:

    In response to the last two comments: like a said to Darling, my answer to her question was “part of the answer”. If you really seek a fuller treatment of the problem of pain and suffering, I suggest you read, or re-read, St John Paul’s meditation, Salvici Doloris and Dr Kazcor’s commentary on it (see link above). When it comes to suffering, JPII walked the walk.

    As for thanking God for suffering, keeping in mind Jesus’ teachings that there are blessings to be found in poverty, hunger, thirst, bereavement and persecution, it stands to reason that, if perceived in the right light, such lots in life can be occasions for gratitude, not just endurance.


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