See also Stations of the Cross by young people at: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2018/documents/ns_lit_doc_20180330_via-crucis-meditazioni_en.html
By Orlando Hernández
To many of us Good Friday always feels like a day of mourning. We remember how our beautiful Lord was cut down in the prime of His life. Part of us feels like we lost a true friend, family . Maybe we remember those we lost. How we buried them. How we grieved and yet the world went on as if nothing had happened, business as usual. I remember when I was a kid in Caracas, Venezuela in the 1950’s. On Good Friday the whole city would shut down: government, business, entertainment. The streets seemed empty. There was a silence everywhere. Even the few TV stations and the local movie houses would only show films about the life and the Passion of Christ, which I would find very scary.
And yet today, on Good Friday, in New York, most people are unaware. They are out trying to make a living. Tonight they’ll be out in the bright city at restaurants, clubs, bars, and theaters. So different from the way I feel. This poem, by W.H. Auden (maybe you know it) expresses some of my feelings about Good Friday :
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead,
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My moon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
My soul agrees with the feelings in this poem. But it also disagrees with its message. Love does last forever. Good can come out of suffering and loss. This is a message of the Passion : The Resurrection of life and of love. But I think about those apostles in the darkness of the Upper Room!
Their guilt, their desolation, their grief, their uncertainty. I think of Peter, my friend Peter, remembering his question (my frequent prayer to the Lord): “Master, to whom will we go? Where can we go, when You have the words of Eternal Life?” And now where is that Life?
I can think of so many friends who lost their loved ones in the last few weeks, the despair they feel. And those who feel abandoned in nursing homes, jails, and hospital beds, those who feel unloved by God, who have forgotten how to believe. I am reminded of this excerpt from “The Crucified God”, by Jörgen Monltmann: “Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation and doubt about every thing that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality. It must be born out of nothingness.” Only God can do this. And He does.
Again, I think about these apostles in fear and disbelief, at the edge of despair. But I believe that they could not have been totally deaf! Our Lord told them more than once that He would “Rise again”. They had seen His miracles. There must have been some hope against all hope in their hearts as they cowered in that dark Upper Room. Even I, after the benefit of so many graces and instruction, at times like this, I momentarily forget that our Lord Jesus resurrected full of glory, power and love. I truly believe that when you have experienced Jesus in your life, no matter how hard your faith in Him is buffeted by adversity, hope still remains… A hope that is His gift from the cross, which is fueled by His infinite Love.
Dear Lord. By the power of Your Cross awaken in us the certainty of Your Resurrection within our dark, troubled hearts. You live, you live in us. We are not alone. Let us rejoice in your indestructible Love. Give us the confidence to share this joy with others during this Easter season.
by Howard Hain
The best part of getting a gift is the opening and receiving.
No matter how grateful we are to have the gift, the excitement of “having” is never equal to the excitement of “opening” and “receiving”.
Christ’s death is the gift.
The actual hour of the agony, the arrest, the abandonment, the trial, the mocking, the spitting, the carrying, the nailing, the hanging…it is all the “unwrapping”. The unwrapping of a great gift, the greatest gift.
Because we know the resurrection happens. That it has happened. We live post-resurrection.
The gift is the death. The unwrapping the method of the torture.
Good Friday is the closest we come to being alive during his dying process.
The Liturgy falls down.
“I AM” is too big.
Heaven will not allow distance. The Liturgy in all its greatness is still a distance.
No liturgy. No sacraments.
Heaven is total Union.
Heaven on earth is the unwrapping and receiving of the greatest gift.
Heaven on earth is the joy of Jesus being tortured. The joy of Jesus dying.
‘Paradox’ is too little of a word.
‘Mystery’ means nothing in relation to the reality.
“…he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.”
Tenebrae is an ancient Holy Week service celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Tenebrae, a latin word, means darkness, but the 15 lighted candles at the heart of this service say that darkness never has its way. The 15 candles stand for Jesus, his twelve disciples and the two disciples who leave Jerusalem for Emmaus after Jesus’ death, having lost all hope.
In the Tenebrae service, the candles are extinguished one by one, as the scriptures are read. His disciples leave him, one betrays him. Jesus goes to death alone, but his light remains burning.
Psalm 69 is read at Tenebrae on Holy Thursday:
“I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.”
On Holy Thursday Jesus leaves Bethany with his disciples to celebrate the Passover feast in the evening in an upper room in Jerusalem near the temple. At the table he tells them their faith will be shaken and they will leave him.
The Tenebrae readings tell us Jesus is our great high priest whose love never fails:
“We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
(Hebrews 4, 14-16)
These days of Holy Week we approach “the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace for timely help.”
A final reading on Holy Thursday from an Easter homily by St. Melito of Sardis reminds us: “He is the one who brought us out of darkness into light, out of slavery into freedom, out of death into life, and made us a people chosen to be his own. He is the Passover which is our salvation.”
We celebrated Tenebrae this morning, Holy Thursday, at Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica, New York.
By Orlando Hernandez
There are times, when I sit before the Altar of the Lord, and I feel like such a “mess”.
In the Gospel for Wednesday of Holy Week we read :
“On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The teacher says, ‘my appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.’”’The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.” (Mt 26:17-19)
I often wonder about this “certain man” who offered his home for Jesus to dine with His disciples. Did he tidy up his house? Did he get a chance to also participate in the miraculous meal that took place in the “upper room” of his house? I have this vision of my Lord coming to my door every morning inviting Himself to the home I occupy, my very self, body and soul. I think of the beloved verse from Revelation 3:20 : “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”
How intimate, how precious. Sometimes when I receive the Eucharist this image comes into my very heart. I rest in it, with You, my Lord. But often, unfortunately, a set of disturbing characters rush in to join us at the table. They need so much to be with You, but look at who some of them are: a hot head, a cripple, a lech, a leech, a know-it-all, a liar, a miser, a doubter, a coward, a denier, even a betrayer. I am so ashamed and embarrassed! Will You walk out? You never did, in Your many dinners with so many unsavory folks. And You don’t leave this house of mine that You bless.
You even stoop to wash our feet! You give us Your love. You sanctify us. You bless us. You even invite us to join You at Your House, with Your Father. You heal and forgive us. You bathe us with the light of Your Eternal Life. You give us Your Holy Spirit! Why do You love us like this?
Perhaps You look past us, through us, at the beloved little person You created. Your eyes tell me that You see someone beautiful. Is it really me?
Like the deer that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is longing
for you my God.
My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life,
when can I enter and see
the face of God?
Jesus surely said this psalm approaching the temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. He came to be in the presence of his Father. not to argue or dispute with those who rejected him in that holy place. Yet. he was rejected.
My tears have become my bread
by night and by day
as I hear it said all the day long
“Where is your God!”
Psalms like this allow us to know his thoughts these days, when Jesus stayed in Bethany before his crucifixion. Today, we recall a banquet when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured a precious oil on him. She did it “for the day of my burial”, Jesus says.
Why are you cast down my soul,
why groan within me?
hope in God, I will praise him still,
my Savior and my God.
Today we remember Mary, sister of Lazarus, for her gracious kindness.