The Color Palette of Way of the Cross
By Fr. Jason Antiquera, SSC
In Lenten Art Recollection
Face-to-face Art Recollection finally came back in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Art recollection is a time of introspection, prayer, and reflection to find God’s presence in ones experiences expressed through drawing, coloring, painting or any other form of visual arts, and usually done with a group. The first communities that got to pray and reflect on their faith life through visual arts were the Filipino Catholics of the Diocese of Daejeon. Through the initiative of Columban Father Jude Genovia, the Lenten season was once again personally experienced in a safe space. The whole recollection focused on the meditation on the passion, suffering and death of Jesus Christ through the Way (Stations) of the Cross. However, the praying through this five-century-old Christian devotion was done in a method no one had ever done before: through a coloring page.
Instead of a loud reading of the Scripture and its accompanying prayers, recollection participants prayerfully gazed upon the image in each station. Thereafter, they applied colors slowly in a contemplative manner. While colors have their own collective cultural and religious meaning, participants were encouraged to choose a color that reflected their personal experiences in life. The result was a unique color palette significant to a moment in Christ’s passion and death which resonated with their own. Each one followed his own pace, pulse and strokes in coloring. Two people may have worked on the same image and used identical color combinations but the outputs were totally distinguishable by its uniqueness of touch and stroke. Such was its beauty that the reflection sharing, which followed the coloring, was rich and diverse. Other participants burst into tears as they shared and felt connected with figures like Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, the Women of Jerusalem, Mary mother of Jesus, the beloved disciple, and Joseph of Arimathea. We also got in touch with part of ourselves that is like that of Pontius Pilate, Pharisees and the High Priests, the crowd, and the soldiers. As I look back, I realized that our lives have their own color palette as expressed in the colors applied to the Way of the Cross during the Lenten Recollection.
In Lenten Workshop and Individual Prayers
While I created the coloring page with the thought of the Lenten Art Recollection, I thought of other groups and people who may find the material helpful. So, I turned it into a full self-guided coloring book titled “Way of the Cross: Color and Contemplation” with a digital version for easy distribution. One of those to whom I shared the material was Fr. Noel O’Neill, founder of Emmaus Rainbow Community that assists people of special needs in many ways.
Fr. Noel, on Holy Thursday, gathered the community for the coloring of their Way of the Cross. Later, Dr. Chun Yung Hui judged the colorings. The winning artworks were awarded on Easter Sunday during the Mass.
Apart from distributing it to those who work with group facilitation, the digital copy was also shared to individual people. They may reproduce it freely as long as they have the digital copy. Any person who is not able to do it with a group can do it alone in his or her preferred space and convenient time. In this way, there is no pressure to finish all the stations in one time. Such is the flexibility and beauty of the material.
The Making of “Coloring the Way of the Cross”
The idea of coloring pages for reflection was a response to questions I received earlier on. What can I do for our Lenten Art Recollection? Is there a way through which people can reflect on Christ’s suffering and their own through something beautiful? How can I facilitate people to do the devotion in their own time, space and, to a certain extent, their own way. These were significant questions that led to the making of coloring pages. The work that followed were demanding: from drawing works of fourteen different yet harmonized templates, to drafting guidelines for coloring procedure and reflection questions. I have chosen the mandala shape due to its spiritual character and universal meaning of wholeness. Every part of the making of “Way of the Cross: Coloring and Contemplation”, was driven by a pastoral response to God’s desire for human to experience wholeness and renewal of life beyond the cross.
I have fervent hope that more people will get to meditate the Way of the Cross using this coloring book and through many other creative ways.