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Lenten Reflections 2024: Laetare Sunday of Lent

Lenten Reflections 2024 graphi

Dear friends,

For this Laetare Sunday of Lent, as we continue to pair art from our partners at the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art with prayerful reflections from members of our community, Theresa Crnkovich, associate program director with ACE Principal Academy, reflects on Crucifix by Dimitri Hadzi.

We hope that this cross-campus partnership offers us all a welcomed space to practice Visio Divina, or sacred seeing, and through the lens of art consider this Lenten season anew. We recommend taking time to visit the Museum in person to encounter and connect to the art in a deeply meaningful way.

May God continue to bless you, your communities, and your families in this holy season of Lent.

~ The Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Alliance for Catholic Education


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Image of Crucifix by Dimitri Hadzi
Dimitri Hadzi, (American, 1921-2006), Crucifix, 1979, Bronze with stone base, 24 1/2 x 12 x 7 in. Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Gift of Cynthia Hadzi, 2021.018.

What wondrous love is this!
Reflection offered by Theresa Crnkovich, associate program director, ACE Principal Academy

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." It is a fitting Gospel with which to reflect on the sculpture Crucifix by Dimitri Hadzi.

Hadzi’s depiction of Christ crucified is immediately striking, even jarring, to the beholder: the bronze lines detailing the torn skin on the torso, arms, legs, and face of Christ are jagged, the cross is asymmetrical, and perhaps most striking of all, the body of Christ extends forward into the space of the viewer. Rather than hanging against the wood of the cross, in this sculpture, only Christ’s hands and feet are connected to the tree while the rest of his body is straining away from the cross in an intense arched motion. In this sculpture, Christ is lifting his entire body forward, craning his face upwards towards Heaven.

As I reflect on this sculpture, I find myself asking: “What aspect of God’s love has Hadzi captured in this piece of art?” I could focus on the bronze nails that protrude from Christ’s hands and reflect on the suffering of Christ for our sake. Or I could focus on the distortion of the cross and reflect on how sometimes crosses in our lives look different than what we expected. However, over and over again, I find myself drawn to Christ’s face as he cranes his neck upward, offering up everything to the Father on our behalf. This simple gesture draws me to think about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The Son is always revealing the Father to us, in word and work. John the Evangelist writes in the Nicodemus story: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Jesus then manifests this love, and the unity between the Father and the Son, in His passion, death, and resurrection. In the arching of Christ’s body in this sculpture, I glimpse that the Son gives His entire life in perfect alignment with the will of the Father: a love beyond all telling, a love of which there is no greater than this laying down of His life for us all. 

On this Laetare Sunday - when Mother Church bids us to rejoice — as we reflect on the image of Christ crucified, let us rejoice that our God loves the world so much that He gave his only Son to die for us on the cross, to free us from our sin, and bring us with him through death to the resurrection. What wondrous love is this!