Welcome to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau!
As our Lenten Immersion Trip comes to a close, we are visiting seminarian Andrew Williams from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri. Andrew is currently in his third year of theological studies at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois thanks to support from Catholic Extension donors.
Thanks to Catholic Extension donors, I have the opportunity to be of greater service to my diocese, the Church, and, most importantly, to my future parishioners. -Andrew Williams
Fra Angelico, an Italian Monk and painter from the 15th century, painted the image above. In English, the title is “The Harrowing of Hell,” and it depicts what we say in the Apostles Creed, “...He descended into hell...” The point of this descent into hell (or “the dead”) was to bring to eternal life all those who had died in God's friendship, but before the time of Christ. Without getting too caught up on how time works after death, we can definitely agree that all salvation ultimately comes through Christ, and therefore even Abraham, the first of God's chosen people, must be redeemed by His sacrifice. I invite you to look at the painting.
You will surely notice Christ and His Banner, Adam & Eve, the Patriarchs, and the demons in the corner, but perhaps you didn't notice two other details. Look at the door under Jesus's feet. First, there are two nails, hinges that the door to hell was hung on, now bent and on the floor. Second, and I laughed the first time I saw it, there is a devil squashed underneath the door!
While the painting has much significance, I think that we really missed out on what happened three seconds earlier: The One through Whom all was created has come for what is His, and when the devils try to keep him out, he busts down the door! You won’t find this in a holy hour devotional, but I propose that there is room for spiritual reflection and nourishment with this very uncommon image: Jesus front-kicking down the doors of hell.
Anticipating the joy of Easter, believe it or not, I truly invite you to consider the image of Christ, eyes and muscles full of Love & Divine fire, kicking down the doors of hell and coming for his people, coming for you. You see, nothing can keep Christ from us. Jesus gently knocks at the door of your heart, but give Him permission to enter and there is nothing that can stand between you. When you feel beyond God’s love, remember this painting, remember the broken hinges and squashed demon, remember the hand reaching out to you, remember that all of Holy Thursday and Good Friday were for this one purpose of knocking down every locked door between you and God’s love. He has come for you, He is coming for you, and He will come for you.
Andrew Williams' seminarian education is funded by Catholic Extension. On this Holy Saturday, please consider a donation to support our future priests serving in the poorest areas of the United States.