by Felicitas Russell, RDC
I would like to invite you to visit the Chapel of the Divine Compassion, the stone building on the Good Counsel Campus. As you open the heavy wooden door, an awesome feeling of peace envelops you. Your eyes are drawn to the magnificent stained-glass windows purchased by Mother Mary Veronica in France. Each window depicts a scene in the life of Jesus, from his birth through the preparation for his burial.
As you travel up the center aisle, you come upon the scene of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus on the way to Calvary, carrying his cross. Legend tells us that Veronica dared to step out into the crowd on its way to the execution of Jesus and two thieves. She was moved with compassion to see the pain, dirt and sweat on Jesus’ face and used her own veil to wipe his face. As a reward, the image of that holy face appeared on her veil. That scene is very special to the Sisters of the Divine Compassion. In place of Veronica’s face is the face of our own foundress, who chose as her religious name “Mother Mary Veronica.” What a selfless act of compassion Veronica portrays.
Besides the stained-glass windows on either side of the main aisle you will see the Stations of the Cross depicted in marble. These are representations of fourteen events along the way from Jesus’ sentencing to death, through the long walk to the hill of Calvary where he was executed by being nailed to a cross, to the placement of his body in the tomb. Each invites us to bring our own sorrows and pains to the compassion of our God who suffered with and for us.
Many who are seeking comfort and strength have found it in the sanctuary above the main altar – a massive white statue of Jesus. This is not a kneeling or praying Jesus, but a welcoming Jesus.
Nowhere can I find pictures of Jesus that show closure in his body. He is always pictured as hugging and blessing, being with children, sharing meals, or in his final act of love – the Crucifixion.
On the statue in our Chapel, you cannot help but notice the hands of Christ. His hands are not at his side, behind him or clasped together. They are extended in hospitality to all, no barriers of color, gay, straight, mentally challenged or deformed, but welcoming ALL.
Take a few minutes and be aware of your hands and how you welcome people. Are your hands folded, preventing the flow of openness and causing closure and resistance, selectivity, or are they welcoming?
In closing, I would like to quote a neat bumper sticker I have on my car: God bless the whole world – no exceptions.
Now that’s an expression of open arms and hospitality.