The Monster Inside Us

It’s that time again! Pumpkin spice everything, candy is on sale, and costumes galore!

It is also the time that many people try to frighten themselves silly! Because who needs sleep when you can be staring up at the ceiling listening to every little sound and wondering if an axe murderer has somehow sneaked in the house, am I right?

…okay, maybe I just do that.

But it’s true! This is a time that many of us like to scare ourselves silly! In fact, around this time, many people dabble in the occult, just for the thrill of it — something that I would absolutely not recommend at all.

No, really, please don’t mess with Satan. It’s a bad idea, and if you don’t think he’ll take advantage of this, you’re fooling yourself.

Besides, we absolutely don’t need to dabble in the occult to get properly scared! Trust me on this There is enough absolutely terrifying sacred art to scare even the hardest of us and cause us to repent from sin and turn to God.

For only God can save us from our sins.

And so, I would like to share some of this macabre religious art with you! Starting with… this artwork showing Christ carrying the Cross.

Christ Carrying the Cross, by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1510-35. Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Christ Carrying the Cross, by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1510-35. Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium.

This is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, who is well-known for his ghoulish portrayals of sin and life. And this picture is particularly creepy… Christ is in the middle, His face patient, despite going through profound suffering. Out of everybody there, His face radiates peace, when there seems to be no peace at hand.

But then, look at the other people around Him! Most of the other faces are sneering and contemptuous to the point where they don’t even seem human anymore. Instead, they seem to be more like demons, their eyes popped out and bulging while their teeth glitter menacingly.

That doesn’t mean that there are no friendly faces. To the bottom left, Veronica is holding holding her veil, which has the image of Christ’s face on it — a popular devotion in medieval times. Then, directly behind Christ, you can see the bottom half of Simon the Cyrenian’s face as he struggles to bear the Cross for Jesus, his mouth gritted tight as he struggles himself. And, to the top right, you can see the good thief, whose face is pallid and almost blue, grimacing and resigned to his fate.

But everyone else is scary. The bad thief, who is in the bottom right corner and wrapped in ropes, is mocked by people who jeer at him. And he jeers right back, his lips curled in a snarl.

And then there are the people who have stern faces who grimace and look away from Jesus, determined to crucify Jesus. In a way, that almost makes them scarier than the people who are actively jeering at Jesus — at least they look at Jesus and sneer at Him to His face. These people don’t even look, instead ignoring Jesus, even as they condemn Him to die.

Look at these people carefully.

They look like monsters.

I’ve said this before, but it is tempting to think of ourselves as good people. It is tempting to believe that we would stand up for the right cause, no matter what. I don’t know about you, but there was a time that I was certain that, if I were among the people that called for the crucifixion of Jesus, that I wouldn’t join the crowd and call for His crucifixion.

But, if I am honest with myself, how many times do I put God on trial? Where I say, “God, you didn’t do X for me, and I don’t like you right now because of that. You haven’t done enough for me.”

And yes, intellectually, I know that Christ died for me and everything, but how many times do I want — nay! expect! — more from God? How many times do I ask for miracles, and then get disappointed with God — despite everything that He has done for me — because He didn’t give me that miracle?

And I wonder… does this sort of ingratitude turn me into a monster too?

How would my face look if it were put into this picture?

How would sin distort and corrupt my face?

And so, let us always repent from our sins, knowing that our sins turns us into monsters, and turn to God, no matter what.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of three, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer

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