I modelled for this image and all Christians are called to do so: Harrowing Hell is at the heart of our vocation. Christ is our model & not only is it only through His work, His “liturgy”, as the One True Holy & Immaculate Victim & Sacrifice, that we and the whole world are redeemed, but also, in an upside-down & inside-out world, the world and the evil threof, only exist to be redeemed.
Anthropology & Psychology can help us to see half of the picture, even with the eyes of disbelief: Christianity is the cult oif the willing & knowing victim. We are called, whether we are able to hear or not, to be willing victims & sacrifices to redeem our world.
The news of the world is always of Hell on Earth & is only made sane by the possibility, the necessity & the inevitability of its redemption -already accomplished, in the process of accomplishment & yet to be accomplished.
The news of the world is inevitably and necessarily of spiritual, social, environmental & ecomomic disaster. The “Bad News of the World” is of “Hell on Earth”. The protagonists, we are urged to see are Men of Power (presidents, generals, politicians & experts) striving to “contain” Men who Disempower (evil dictators, criminals, murderers & threats to our safety).
Men of The World seem to struggle heroically to “neutralise” disruptive elements & the unimaginably worse: unconscious agents of evil: The Good News of The Gospel, of “Heaven on Earth” is only possible because of this need & necessity for the World’s Redemption.
It is the final act of Christ’s Passion, His Descent into Hell & His freeing of the damned souls that speaks peculiarly to our age of natural & man-made disaster. We Christians & believers in the true Gospel are the yeast that leavens the loaf. We are necessarily a tiny minority, we are called to dare all & to lose all, & to enter Hell, ostensibly on behalf of others, but truly to fulfil our own vocation: to redeem the world from the evil thereof, armed only with Love. Without the fight & the ensuing willing defeat there can be no unearthly victory.
We are called to sever the physical laws of cause & effect, to break the chain of action & reaction, & to senselessly destroy the madness of the logic of our world by stepping beyond & outside it.
The Harrowing of Hell is the last act of the play, an act of which we can know nothing, almost a lacuna in The Gospel, that changes tragedy into divine comedy. Only by exceeding the tragic brief can this be achieved: only by being armed with the utterly unrealistic aim & impossible aspiration of being perfect, of following in Our Lord’s footsteps & of failing can we begin to hope to win the day. It is only through defeat & failure that we may hope to turn the world upsidedown to bring Heaven down to Earth & redeem it from Evil.