Prayer before the Crucifix 
Iconic image collage(2011) by Bro. Jeffrey Wilson, T.O.R.
Prayer before the Crucifix 
by St. Francis of Assisi
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.
This work takes the perspective of St. Francis kneeling and praying before a crucifix in an abandoned church that has fallen into ruin.
“Seeking out solitary places, he [Francis] used to go to deserted and abandoned churches to pray at night.  […] One day when he went out to meditate in the fields, he walked near the church of San Damiano, which was threatening to collapse because of age. Impelled by the Spirit, he went inside to pray. Prostrate before an image of the Crucified, he was filled with no little consolation as he prayed. When tear-filled eyes were gazing at the Lord’s cross he heard in a marvelous way with his bodily ears a voice coming from that cross, telling him three times: “Francis, go, rebuild my house which, as you see, is all being destroyed!”  […] The voice from the Cross, which repeated three times the command concerning the rebuilding of the house of God, stands out as a prophetic sign. We recognize now that it is fulfilled in the three Orders established by him.” 
Visually, this work is inspired by several works of Salvador Dali, particularly Christ of St John of the Cross, Corpus Hypercubus, and The Ascension of Christ. I was interested in the play between vertical and horizontal perspectives in Christ of St John of the Cross; the detachment of the body, or corpus, of Christ from the cross in Corpus Hypercubus; and the suspension of the body of Christ in The Ascension of Christ.
The image of the crucified Christ can be viewed from both a vertical and horizontal perspective. In relation to the wall and statues, the crucified Christ is viewed from a vertical perspective. This is the more literal and natural perspective. In relation to the Earth, sun, and nebula; the crucified Christ is viewed from a horizontal perspective. This is the metaphorical and supernatural perspective.
In the traditional analogy for the natural and supernatural, horizontal represents the natural while vertical represents the supernatural. I do not intend to collapse the vertical into the horizontal or the immanent Trinity into the economic Trinity.  The inverting of the analogical vertical and horizontal perspectives symbolizes Francis’ insightful vision of the created world. The created order mirrors the Triune God. As the Most High God is perfect Trinity (diversity) and simple Unity (one), so too is God’s creation.  The created universe is diverse yet unified and ordered. 
The sunlight reflecting off of the surface of the Earth symbolizes creation mirroring God. In addition, the sun’s reflection represents St. Clare’s theme of the mirror of contemplation. She instructs, “Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance and, through contemplation, transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself, so that you may feel what friends feel in tasting the hidden sweetness that, from the beginning, God Himself has reserved for His lovers.” 
 The Earth and space images are from NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org.
 Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Vol. 1 - The Saint. Eds. Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellman, O.F.M. Conv., and William J. Short, O.F.M. (New York: New City Press, 1999), 40.
 St. Bonaventure, The Major Legend of Saint Francis, ch. 10, 3.
 St. Bonaventure, The Minor Legend of Saint Francis, ch. 1.5.
 Ibid., ch. 1.9.
 Karl Rahner explains, “The “economic” Trinity is the “immanent” Trinity and the “immanent” Trinity is the “economic” Trinity.” Karl Rahner, The Trinity, (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970), 22. Or in other words, as Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap. explains, “With regards to revelation […] the manner in which the Trinity reveals himself in the economy is in keeping with the manner it is in itself.” Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., Does God Suffer?, (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 142.
 “Most High, Who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified God almighty, forever and ever.” St. Francis of Assisi, A Letter to the Entire Order, 52.
 Weinandy explains, “We clearly perceive now the awesome truth that because creatures, especially human persons, are in the act of creation related to the persons of the Trinity as they are in their own subsistent relations, and so are related to each person of the Trinity in a specific and proper manner, they are assumed in the very mystery of the Trinity itself. Thus, the act of creation mirrors, though imperfectly, the processions within the Trinity.” Does God Suffer?, 142.
 St. Francis of Assisi, The Testament, 5.
 A Book of Exemplary Stories, 98.
 Thomas of Celano, The Life of Saint Francis, 71.
 All scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation unless otherwise noted.
 St. Clare of Assisi, The Third Letter to Agnes of Prague.
 St. Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey into God, ch. 4, 2.