That was my first thought when I heard about the eight-foot bronze "Christ of the Abyss" statue that is located beneath the waters of the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Genoa, Italy. Then, when I saw photos and videos of it, I was moved and even became fixated on the statute.
"Christ of the Abyss" was crafted in 1954 by an Italian artist named Guido Galletti. Our Lord's arms and face are lifted, from the dark and murky depths, from the eerie soundlessness of the vast sea, toward the light and surface, towards life, in prayer. He is offering Himself – as schools of fish swim around Him indifferent and unaware that there could be another way of living beyond the world they know. On the ground beneath and around Him are grotesque looking things. One cannot even tell if they are alive or not.
Over the years the statue has become quite tarnished green, disfigured and covered with barnacles, seaweed, and coral. It has become crusted-over and fossilized as if having taken on the effects of sin on the human spirit. Our Lord's love for us knows no depths.
I have never been scuba diving. I might have to give it a try. There is a replica of the "Christ of the Abyss" statue off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. What a holy pilgrimage it would be to seek Christ by plummeting down into the depths. How I would want to stay and linger a while immersed alone there with Him – but I would feel the pull always trying to lift me away. Eventually I would have to give in and I would leave Him to go back to my life of noise and agitated frenzy.
"Christ of the Abyss" is a fitting image for us as we enter into Holy Week. This is the week in which we reflect on how Christ descended into the depths, bearing the full effects of sin, for us. It is a week in which we long to draw near to Him – but we recognize how easily we are drawn back or fall away. We hear echoed the words Jesus spoke to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37).
Together we plunge into the abyss of this sorrowful mystery and into the depths of prayer. Only through His grace can we abide and arise with Him at Easter. Blessings on your Holy Week.