Benedictine Brother Claude Lane wrote an icon of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani. It was hung this fall in the sacristy at Mount Angel Abbey. (Courtesy Mount Angel Abbey)
Benedictine Brother Claude Lane wrote an icon of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani. It was hung this fall in the sacristy at Mount Angel Abbey. (Courtesy Mount Angel Abbey)
ST. BENEDICT — Abbot Jeremy Driscoll of Mount Angel Abbey reflected on two sacred images recently in his regular video talks.

In November, he stood in the sacristy of the Abbey Church in front of a new icon of Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemani. Written by Benedictine Brother Claude Lane, it shows a distraught Jesus dressed in red. An angel stands behind with a blue cloak.

The icon is appropriate for a sacristy, Abbot Jeremy said, because Gethsemani is where Jesus prepared for his sacrifice on Calvary, the act that priests prepare to commemorate when they vest in the sacristy.

“I hope it can remind us that the sacristy is already a very sacred place,” Abbot Jeremy said. “As we vest ourselves in the sacristy, we are preparing to offer the sacrifice that our Lord prepared to offer as he suffered in the garden. It requires of us the utmost respect, devotion and silence.”

The image is remarkable for its vivid colors. Jesus is vested in a bright red garment. Abbot Jeremy explained that in iconography, red is a sign of Jesus’ humanity – and even more of the blood he is about to shed on the cross for humans.

The blue in the cloak represents divinity. It is unclear whether the angel is giving or taking the blue cloak; that’s because it’s both.

“So, as the cloak is removed, you could say he is divesting himself of his divinity as he goes to the cross,” Abbot Jeremy explained, citing St. Paul’s phrase from the letter to the Philippians: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”

“In the same instant, if we see the angel wrapping Jesus in the blue cloak, God is showing us his divine power in the weakness of the cross,” Abbot Jeremy said. “Either way, Jesus on the cross is a new revelation of the divinity of God.”

In the middle of Advent, Abbot Jeremy gave a talk from his office, discussing the great hymn that refers to God as “Creator of the stars of night.” On the office wall hangs a painting by Michael O’Brien that was done for the late Oregon church architect David Richen. It shows Christ with a draftsman’s compass aligning sun, Earth and moon.

Abbot Jeremy said the image elicits hope and trust during a time of year when it is dark and in a year that has made everyone weary and anxious.