Vic O’Callaghan & Susan Daly IBVM

In this place many dramas have been enacted, so the torture and public murder of an innocent man should not have made a dint on the wheel of history. But the death of a certain Galilean cracked the rim. In theatrical terms, the story has everything; hero, villains, conflict, betrayal, denial, anguish, death and more…

“Attuned to moments of healing.” Assoc. Prof. Anne Benjamin ACU

Book Review by Marilyn Rodrigues

This creative re-telling of Christ’s passion is the fruit of a pilgrimage Vic O’Callaghan undertook to the Holy Land in 2010. In it he invites and accompanies the reader on a pilgrimage through the final day of Jesus’ life to his resurrection, providing rich and imaginative texture to the historical context, the people and cultures, along the way.

He begins with a vivid overview of Jerusalem and its surrounding regions as a pilgrim would find it today and as imagined in Jesus’ time, before introducing the reflections as speculations of what may have happened in the hearts and minds of characters who had significant parts to play during Jesus’ passion.

Evoking the Ignatian method of placing oneself within the Scripture text, O’Callaghan takes poetic license in an effort to draw out prayerful reflection, including in the book the voices of fictional characters as well as those recorded in Scripture. For example, there is a moving description of Jesus stopping to talk to the women of Jerusalem (as told in Luke 8: 2-3) by Sarah, the imagined daughter of Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Chuz: “There is something wrong. If this man was a criminal, people would not be shedding tears. All my mother’s friends and many more were wailing and crying out…He fell. My breath stopped short as his head thudded into the dust. Soldiers hit and kicked and sneered.”

Each station is arranged in five parts to facilitate individual or group reflection. The first part, Hold the Word, is the station as recounted in Scripture, second is Remember, the event as described through a witness, either real or imagined. The third part is Dive, which is a finely wrought poem reflecting on Jesus’ own reaction to the event; the fourth, Dig, is a short story linking the station to a situation in contemporary life, and the fifth part, Rise, is a closing prayer.

Poignantly accompanied by jewel-coloured stained-glass illustrations by Susan Daily IBVM alongside dark, haunting graphics, Days of Passion explores themes of death and life, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, despair and faith.

This is a beautiful, searching book, ideal for use during Lent and Holy Week, and in enriching the reading of Scripture.

Marilyn Rodrigues is an author and journalist with The Catholic Weekly, NSW