Fr. Antiquera Uses Art in Lenten Recollection

Participants of the Lenten Art Recollection show their handiwork
Participants of the Lenten Art Recollection show their handiwork

 

 

Dear Columban Friends,

Gracious Lenten greetings to you! I hope that you find this season spiritually nourishing as we prepare during the coming weeks to celebrate our Risen Savior at Easter.

Columban Fr. Jason Antiquera lives and works in South Korea. Thanks to Columban benefactors like you, after a two-year hiatus due to COVID, he was finally able to enrich the lives of his parishioners by hosting a face-to-face Lenten recollection. I am happy to be able to share with you his thoughts on this very unique and effective way to contemplate Jesus’ journey to the cross.

Fr. Jason's "Way of the Cross" coloring books.
Fr. Jason's "Way of the Cross" coloring books.

The entire Lenten recollection focused on the images and involved meditation on the passion, suffering and death of Jesus Christ through the Way (Stations) of the Cross. However, praying through this five-century-old Christian devotion was done in a method none had experienced previously – through coloring pages.

Instead of using traditional methods of prayer involving Scripture and the usual prayers, recollection participants were asked to prayerfully gaze upon the image of each station. Then, they were asked to apply colors slowly in a contemplative manner. While some colors have their own cultural and religious meaning, participants were encouraged to choose colors that reflected their personal experience and life. If needed, each person was guided on how to apply the colors. The goal for each participant was to create their own color palette and apply it to a moment in Christ’s passion and death that resonated with their own feelings and thoughts. Each person worked at their own pace when coloring. While two individuals may have worked on the same image and used identical colors, the finished images were distinguishable by each person’s unique touch and stroke. The beautifully reflective sharing that followed the coloring exercise was rich and diverse.

A participant reflects after coloring an image of Jesus.
A participant reflects after coloring an image of Jesus.

Through contemplative coloring, people were able to immerse themselves into the suffering and death of Christ and better relate to their own personal life experience. For many of the participants, this was a very emotional time. A few wept as they shared. Each person felt supported as their faith community was there to listen and hold them as they connected with figures like Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, the Women of Jerusalem, Mary mother of Jesus, the beloved disciple, and Joseph of Arimathea. Likewise, we also got in touch with the part of ourselves that is like that of Pontius Pilate, the Pharisees and the High Priests, the crowd and the soldiers. One of the most obvious aspects of the art recollection was a sense of relief from the heavy emotions people had kept inside. As I look back, I realized that our lives have their own color palette as expressed in the colors applied to the images of Way of the Cross.

The idea of coloring pages turned out to be a meaningful way to respond to our need for a Lenten Recollection. Since the Catholic faithful are drawn to devotion, I decided to work on the Stations of the Cross. I asked myself, “How can we meditate on this using less words and still immerse ourselves in these powerful images and colors? Likewise, I was thinking about how individual people could pray the devotion in a safer space in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Would this be a way where people could reflect on Christ’s suffering and relate it to their own? Would they ground themselves in these powerful images and would that sustain them in their vulnerability? I hoped and prayed for all of these things.

Every part of the making of “Way of the Cross: Coloring and Contemplation,” was driven by a pastoral response to God’s desire for humans to experience wholeness and renewal of life beyond the cross. The color palette we choose to fill the Way of the Cross is the color of our lives and our very selves are united with that of Jesus of Nazareth. Our passion and suffering have become one with that of Christ our Redeemer. In this sense, even in difficult times, hardship, and darkness we must find a way to the God who saves us. I have hope that more people will get to meditate the Way of the Cross using this coloring book and through other creative ways of recollection and prayer.

The Lord measures out perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.

Columban Fr. Jason Antiquera has developed a new way to contemplate the Way of the Cross, connecting people to Jesus’ suffering through art and color. I think St. John of the cross would be pleased!

We gratefully pray for you and your loved ones during this holy season. Without your continued and sacrificial support, the work of Columban missionaries like Fr. Jason would not happen. Thank you for your unwavering care, encouragement and assistance – and especially the Gospel joy that you help bring to others.

Gratefully Yours in Christ,

Fr. Chris Saenz, Director

Fr. Chris Saenz | Director, U.S. Region