The Crowning of Thorns

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

Jesus Christ had thorns forced into his flesh. The Evangelists’s claim — that if everything about Jesus were recorded “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” — approaches literal truth. How can enough be said of this Crowning?

Jesus Christ had thorns pressed into his head. It is bitter, yes. But turn the world on its head and see that Christ blooms up from the thorns. He is the blood-red Rose we offer to the Father, that we might be reconciled and brought back to our home. Christ’s Sacrifice reaches the Father and is pleasing to him — not only because it is beautiful, but because it is raised on a thorny stem. For Love, in order to be Love, demands suffering. The image of Christ crowned teaches us of what a lifetime of friends, lovers, and children gives a glimpse — you cannot grow a rose without its thorns.

They struck him on the head. The thorns were pressed into the wellspring of life itself. They were embedded in the most fertile soil of flesh, blood, water, bread and wine. How could they do anything but flower? And they do: The thorns woven around the Sacred Heart of Jesus flower in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

For Mary is the first to be given the title Immaculate, the first to be free from sin by the death and resurrection of Christ. The sacrifice of Christ is brought to fruition in Her — it blooms in her. She is an example of what we are all to be. And she represents the Church.

The suffering of Christ blooms within the Church and rises with the incense, a pure sacrifice to God the almighty. Because of Christ’s death, we have eternal life. Thank God for the thorns that bring forth such a flower.

Death as Orgasm
Eyeball the Enemy
The Spirit of Rebellion
The Real World
  • Tony Escobar

    Amen! Great post.

  • clares

    Wasn’t Mary freed from sin at the moment of her conception by God the father? Not by Jesus cross death and resurrection? Sorry, I may have misunderstood you. X

    • Brian Formica

      If I recall the Church’s teaching correctly: Mary was freed from sin at the moment of conception by the transcendent graces given through Christ’s passion and death.

      • Anonymous

        I think Brian is right. It is a big circle of sorts. She was preserved by a retroactive grace extant from all eternity by virtue of Christ’s Passion and Death. I’m sure I am not saying this right. You have to realize how limited time is in the equation- Christ’s incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection are for us entwined in time, bounded by time, but that is because we are bounded by time, but Jesus, the Son, is not- so the grace was efficacious for eternity- in effect, outside of time- therefore-stay with me here- the grace gained by the work of the Christ can be applied to Mary in a type of circle as she was saying yes to God- from, I think, her very first moment of conception. It is a singular unrepeatable privilege, for the purpose of Jesus’ being fully man and fully God simultaneously- and to reintegrate women into the salvation matrix to undo the error of Eve. I think there is way more to this but that it is best considered in prayer in front of a monstrance with Christ exposed!

        • clares

          many thanks everyone! Actually I have seen recently calls for Mary to be honoured with the title “Co-redemptrix” for her part played in the salvation of mankind. What do you guys think about this?

          • Anonymous

            In the west, I think it is better if we maintain emphasis on Jesus, the Son of God, second person in the Holy Trinity- not because Mary is not co-redemptrix, but because we tend to fragment things that should not be fragmented. It seems to me one cannot love or honor Mary too much as Jesus’ mother, our mother, Queen of the Universe, icon of all we aspire to become- and that true devotion to her leads only to the greatest possible love for Christ and spousal union with the Holy Spirit in a grand incorporation into the Holy Trinity- but(!) because of the way we tend to think about things, our weaknesses and limitations and temptations- I think in our present history some cults of Mary can become easily convoluted, one-sided and idolatrous. She has no desire to grandstand or to rise up as a symbol of some neo-feminist crusade drawing attention to herself as central to the mystery of human salvation- even though all of those aspects of her apostolic presence are wholly accurate. If western women of faith had proven more trustworthy in our own right as custodians of family life and culture then there would be no second thought about promulgating an emphasis on Mary in her role in our spiritual lives- but we have not done our part, and if the Church were to give itself over in some fashion on this point to our unfaithful stewardship, the effect would be less than optimal at this time. I think we need to be renewed in our devotion to her, to be renewed in submitting to her guidance and following her example, renewed in our obedience to St. Joseph, and then we might be a real witness to her place in the salvation matrix- and able from that point to advance a proper understanding. (But all of this is my own personal opinion not at all any teaching of the faith I have read or heard.)

          • clares

            Thanks jo, interesting.

          • Grace

            Mary actually IS the co-redemptrix, that’s one of her titles and refers to her singular role in salvation history because of her “fiat”. it does NOT refer, as some have mistakenly thought, to her being “co-redeemer”. There is but one Redeemer.

            We direct “dulia” (honor) to the saints, and “latria” (worship and adoration) to God alone. The correct term for the special honor Mary is to receive is “hyper-dulia”. She is not God; we do not properly adore her. But she is also not a “mere” saint. She is THE saint of saints. Co-redemptrix is a proper title for her and it’s not theologically controversial. In fact, I have heard priests and bishops say that while praying the rosary during mass and directing ALL of one’s prayer efforts toward Mary, as some did in the first half of the 20th century was certainly improper, we have now allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction and have lost some of the important honor and focus on Mary that is rightly part of our faith.

    • Kevin

      clares, she was freed at conception through a singular grace of God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.

    • Libby Marie Barnes

      Both! Mary was prevented from ever having sin (rather than being freed from sin) by God through the saving graces won by Jesus at Calvary. The grace of redemption he would win for us was applied earlier to her than to anyone else. My professor used to give the analogy of throwing out your arm and stopping someone from falling into a mud puddle – that’s saving grace applied to Mary – as opposed to cleaning someone after they already fell in the mud puddle – that’s saving grace applied to us.

  • clares

    “thank God for the thorns that bring forth the flowers.” Lovely line. It reminds me of “God takes lemons, and makes lemonade!”. Ha! Ha!

  • Anonymous

    I think one can grow a thornless rose, but I do not think it is a fragrant rose- and memory lacks the fullness of the impact of the rose as it truly is, apart from the fragrance and the experience of the hazard of the thorns. The thrill of the rose, in all its perfection includes its exquisite beauty, the softness of the petals, the fragrance- so important, and the danger of the sharp stab of the thorns. Otherwise what one has is a facsimile of a rose- the shadow of it- fleeting vicariously across the senses- leaving no change by the interaction. I prefer the real deal- thank you for these thorns, O King of Hearts- those embedded in your brow, from which Your Mother’s Immaculate Maternal Care blossoms toward me; this bridal bouquet for your Church, and embedded in my flesh keeping me ever mindful of my desperate longing for You alone!

  • Ryan

    That’s really, really good.

  • Jay E.

    Wow… that comment about the Immaculate Heart of Mary… You should do meditations like these for the whole Rosary, and then publish them as a companion booklet for praying the Rosary. I’d totally use it.

    • Anonymous

      **seconding the motion for a Bad Catholic’s Pamphlet Of Rosary Meditations**

      **and perhaps a Bad Catholic’s Method: The Way of the Cross**

    • Belle

      ***Third Motion for all of the above.

      • clares


        • Anonymous


          • pjc

            “All in favor say aye!”

  • Mary Liz Bartell

    So beautiful. Thank you!

  • Pearty

    “…a sacrifice breathing out fragrance as he offered it to God.” – St Paul to the Ephesians

    • clares

      Is that true? Really?! Last night when I kneeled down at the crucifixion station, all I smelled was roses.

      • Angela

        Five years ago, I was a co-director on an ACTS retreat. During our teaming, we began each meeting w/ the Rosary. It really cut into our time of work and planning and I complained to my best friend, who was also on the team, about how much time we were praying the Rosary when we really needed that time to plan, etc…. Well… during part of the retreat weekend we were in a circle praying the Rosary and we had a statue of Our Lady of Grace at the head of the circle. Well, we had some technical difficulties with the CD player during this Rosary and we completed it w/out. Anyway… after the Rosary was finished we began to sing Behold, by David Kaufman. I had my eyes closed and my friend Penny and I were holding hands. I felt her move beside me and I opened my eyes to look at her. She had this strange look on her face and I asked, “What’s wrong?” She was looking at the statue of Mary. Penny replied, “I smell something.” At that very moment that she uttered those words, I, too, smelled something. Roses! Not having the time to even process this thought, I asked, “Do you smell the roses?” We both looked at each other and just burst into tears. No flowers were in the room. Mother Mary made herself known to us w/ her fragrance. THAT is why we were to pray the Rosary before each meeting. She was letting us know that she loves us just as Jesus loves us and that by praying the Rosary, we are loving her Son, Jesus Christ. “Thy Will Be Done”, not mine.
        Instaurare omnia in Christo+

        • clares

          Yes, I have experienced this a few times, here at home and of course in medjugorje. But I have never heard that piece of scripture! Beautiful!

        • Adam

          I’m not crazy, then! I once was reading The Secret of the Rosary, which I recommend if you haven’t read, and I promise you I could smell roses when I later prayed the Rosary and even while just reading. Mama Mary is so beautiful.

      • Kayte

        Woah, at a retreat I attended last week I received a Rosary where the beads were made from crushed roses, and smelled very strongly of such. I hadn’t realized the connection/importance…

  • Mary

    I noticed the use of the Caravaggio paintings on this one and the Scourging at the Pillar one… I thoroughly approve! Lovely! Especially this one… I saw it in Vienna and I will never ever forget that. Lovely paintings, lovely articles. :)

  • Soulja

    thanks Marc :) I’m copy pasting this on my blog…

    hope you don’t mind..