By Linda Petersen
OGDEN, Utah (OSV News) — As they worship during this season of Lent, parishioners at St. James the Just Catholic Church in Ogden have been able to gaze into the eyes of the Savior in the form of a large painting of Jesus just below the altar.
They also have been moved by a scourge displayed on a pillar nearby.
The painting, “The Lamb of God,” shows Jesus, crowned with thorns, looking directly at the viewer. It is the work of Mark Goodson, a resident of Huntsville. Goodson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agreed to lend the parish a print of the original work at the request of Father David Trujillo, pastor.
In the world today, “when so many people are turning away from faith, anything that can enhance somebody’s faith, or an image like this one that has such a sense of realness that it might spark in someone that hadn’t really gotten there in terms of believing that Jesus was the Son of God, might think ‘Wow, maybe this really is possible’ and consider it for themselves,” Goodson said of his willingness to share his work.
When Father Trujillo saw the original painting at St. Florence Mission in Huntsville, “I was just captivated by (Goodson’s) style and his range of genre, and how he captured a very special and intense and transcending emotion in me when I first saw the painting,” he said.
“Sacred art is a creative ideal or a process that pulls in the use of divinity in inspiration. I found it so moving myself that I had to share this work of art with my parishioners to help them transcend and go into a common spirit — our faith,” Father Trujillo told Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
“Whatever the viewer sees, whatever their interpretation, all depends on where you’re at in your spirituality, in your conversion. Some find it so inspirational that they feel the love and the pull that Christ exuded for taking on all our sins,” the priest said. “Some others are moved in a different way or on different levels. For me, it just drew me into that moment of transcendence where it was quite moving myself so that I had to share his painting.”
He added, “It’s a message of God’s love for all humanity, saints and sinners alike.”
To add to the Lenten display, Father Trujillo asked Natalie and Mike James of Huntsville, who attend both St. Florence and St. James the Just, to fashion a scourge. The full-sized scourge, made of leather and wood, is displayed beneath the ambo near the painting.
“Father David is a wonderfully creative priest who loves to bring Scripture to life,” Mike James said.
A woodworker, James went online to research how to make the scourge, and also watched the scourging of Christ scene in the 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
“It was kind of brutal thinking about how that was used on Jesus,” he said. “It brought up with both of us feelings that are pretty intense. We just felt like all of us, through our own sins, at some point in time have grabbed hold of that scourge and used it on Jesus. It was a sobering, sorrowful thing to build, actually.”
“It’s a harsh realization what Jesus went through for our sins,” he added. “It no longer is just a Scripture we read; you can see and feel and imagine the pain that he went through for us by being scourged. The reality is harsh, and I think that’s what Father David was trying to do, was bring into our own lives not just the reading part of it but the feeling; that this was real, and this is what he did for us.”
Natalie James, who helped her husband make the scourge, also was impacted by the experience.
The display “is just so good for Lent and it just brings it out of you,” she said. “I’m constantly telling Jesus, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’ and ‘please forgive me.’ It’s just the perfect setting.”
Linda Petersen writes for Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.