Meditate on the Lord at the MOA
The engravings displayed in Meditate on the Lord are illustrations from Annotations and Meditations on the Gospels, a devotional text created in 1595 by Jerome Nadal, a Jesuit priest. Nadal’s text prompts meditation on the life of Christ through scripture, commentary, and illustrations. His book was intended as a teaching tool for students of the Jesuit Order, training them to carefully read scripture and ponder its meanings.
Such contemplative study was an important form of worship in the Jesuit Order, or the Society of Jesus. The Society was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish soldier who felt divinely called to the religious life. After his ordination, he and a group of fellow priests dedicated themselves to a rigorous life of work and prayer. governed by four solemn vows: poverty, chastity, obedience, and a pledge to travel at the bidding of the pope to all corners of the world spreading the Holy Name of Jesus.
In particular, the Society of Jesus taught meditative prayer, a form of focused worship, in which the faithful “enter” a scriptural narrative in their minds’ eye. Readers would envision the sights, smells, and sounds, and place themselves within the scene as devotees. Nadal’s Annotations and Meditations adheres to these principles of meditative prayer. The engraved images expound on the accompanying texts, which encourage viewers to imaginatively engage with the sacred events represented. Jesuit students spent time in focused contemplation of each narrative.
Meditate on the Lord is on display at the MOA through December 2018.