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Reflection Title: 
Remember Me
Reflection Content: 

Two thieves. Both convicted and crucified according to the law of the day. Both are dying. In this awful moment, they show us two entirely different responses to what their life has come to. The thief on the left strikes out in rage: “If you are who they say you are, get me down from this damn cross.” Even in the moment of dying, he is consumed by his predicament, unable to open himself to facing what he has done and who he has become, unable to see who is being crucified beside him. Even in dying, he blames others and dwells in denial. Then there is the thief on the right. He, too, is dying. But unlike his companion, he is present to the moment. He faces the mystery of dying that is opening before him and speaks to Jesus Christ: “Remember me today in your kingdom.” Re-member. Make me a part, a member, of the place where you are present, the place where even dying is taken up into the grace of life. Christian tradition teaches that the kingdom of God is present in the world, and even in our dying we are invited to offer what is real, no matter what it is, into the hands of divine grace.

Story Title: 
The Place of the Skull
Story Content: 

And when they came upon the place which is called Skull, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right and the other on the left. And, Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And when they divided His garment among themselves, they cast a lot. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them were deriding Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if this One is the Christ, the chosen of God.” And the soldiers also were mocking Him, approaching and offering vinegar to Him, and saying, “If Thou are the King of the Jews, save Thyself.” And an inscription also had been written over Him in Greek and Latin and Hebrew letters: “This is the King of the Jews.” And one of the malefactors who were hanged kept on blaspheming Him, saying, “If Thou are the Christ, save Thyself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Dost thou not even fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving things deserving of what we did; but this Man did nothing out of place.” And he was saying to Jesus, “Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Verily I say to thee, today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” And it was about the sixth hour, and there came to be a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. . . .

—Luke 23:33–44a

Contemporary Story Title: 
Let This Cup Pass
Contemporary Story Content: 

Video: CNN’s Larry King interview with Karla Faye Tucker. 1998. 

Karla Faye Tucker, (1959–1998) was convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 for the brutal murders of Jerry Dean and Deborah Thornton. Soon after being imprisoned, Karla began reading the Bible in her cell and later recalled, “I didn't know what I was reading. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of my cell floor on my knees. I was just asking God to forgive me.” Over the next eight years, she requested appeals, and pleaded that her life be spared on the grounds that she was a reformed person. She received the death penalty by lethal injection fourteen years later on February 2, 1998 and was the first woman to be executed in the state of Texas since 1863. On January 14, 1998, just weeks before her execution, Karla gave a special interview with CNN’s Larry King from the Texas prison. 

Artwork Title: 
Turning Toward Life
Artwork Content: 

Theophanis Strelitzas (1527-1559), (known also as Theophanes the Cretan) was the leading painter of the Cretan school of icon painting, which thrived in the fifteenth century after the fall of Constantinople (1453). His distinct style imported Western influences into the Byzantine tradition. The fresco Crucifixion with Two Thieves, with its sharp contours and slim silhouettes is characteristic of ancient Byzantine style. The meticulous attention to detail and highly modeled figures are drawn from the emerging painting tradition in the West. The icon shows the execution of Jesus Christ along with two criminals. The penitent thief, named in the tradition as Dismas or Rach, is shown on the right hand of Jesus Christ, mirroring the features of Jesus both in his face and torso. The thief on the left, Gestas, is shown with his back toward us and in the posture of struggle. The Three Marys (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary) are shown on Jesus’s right flanked by John, the beloved disciple. A soldier pierces the side of Jesus Christ and the blood and water from his body is caught in a chalice held by an angel. Longinus, a centurion behind John, raises his arm and declares, “Truly this is the Son of God.” We have an account of his story in the apocryphal Acts of Pilate, and tradition holds that Longinus died a Christian martyr in Cappadocia in AD 58. Legend has it that Golgotha was the burial place of Adam. Just as Adam had brought death into life so Jesus Christ, through his dying, redeems human nature from the bondage to death.

Question Title: 
May I become whole?
Question Content: 


Without being forgiven, released from the consequences from what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we could never recover.

—Hannah Arendt, (1906-1975). 

Two Sides of Ourselves

The ancients say this is an image of the human struggle. The three crucified men are on the cusp of dying. Where are you in this picture? Are you like the thief on the right? When faced with the approach of various forms of death in your life, do you seek, as he does, to be open to why it is happening? Do you turn to those nearby who still long to be in communion with you despite the alienation that has led to the dying time? Or are you like the thief on the left? Even in the awful moment of dying, do you continue to nurture denial, filled with vengeance, filled with the blame of others? Has your ability to respond to what you are facing dried up? Times of dying come often in life. When were you last “nailed down” and hung out, suspended between heaven and earth to slowly suffocate? In which direction did you turn?

Music Content: 

The Good Thief

An Expostilarion from the Orthodox Service of the Twelve Apostles for Great Friday in Holy Week.

“The Good Thief.” M. Burmagin, Credo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone, St. Petersburg Chamber Choir, Nikolai Korniev, director, Philips 1996. Track 2.


Kyrie eleison 

Kyrie eleison is the penitential opening to the Latin rite. By the nineteenth century the setting of the mass became an occasion for grand oratorial style. The Cecilian movement called for a return to the more compressed a cappella style of Palestrina. Bruckner wrote his Mass in E Minor in a Renaissance polyphonic style, but often added wind instruments to double bass lines. 

“Kyrie eleison.” from Mass in E Minor, Anton Bruckner, Bruckner: Mass in E Minor/Motets, CBSO Chorus and Wind Ensemble, Simon Halsey, conductor, Conifer Records 1990. Track 1.


The Beatitudes

“The Beatitudes.” traditional, Vox de Nube: Voice from the Cloud, Nóirín Ní Riain and the Monks of Glenstal Abbey, Sounds True 1996. Track 13.

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Crucifixion with Two Thieves, mid-16th century. Theophanes the Cretan, 1527–1559. 

Story Audio: 

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