We gaze on that cross this week. Enter into that love, be immersed in it, be overcome by God’s mercy — this is the life Christians are called to. So that we might be beacons of his merciful love, transformed by it. So that this is who we are — configured to Him.
And give thanks, too, for our common spiritual director, Pope Francis, and this walk to Christ — to live lives of real Christianity, in all its radically redemptive ways — he is urging.
…so writes Kathryn Jean Lopez as part of a great post on her blog. For me, Holy Week is such a cavalcade of memories and emotions from my youth to my flirtation with seeking ordination to the priesthood, to coming out the other side bruised and battered, yet still alive. Holy Week reminds me of Palm Sundays singing in the choir with family and friends, serving on the Altar Guild, and spending hours in an otherwise-deserted church during the annual “Night Watch with Jesus” at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the solemnity and breathless anticipation towards Easter Sunday during Holy Saturday services, attending the Great Vigil of Easter at the Church of the Advent in Boston (no one does it better!), and, most recently avoiding the Easter crowds by spending a quiet hour or two with my Monastic Breviary in my prayer grove.
As I get older I find myself withdrawing from the large crowds at St. Mary Magdalene parish during Christmas and Easter. I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve seen it all, but the large crowds and boistrous celebrations don’t move me much anymore. And besides, with everything I’ve gone through and been a part of between Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Arizona, I feel I have. Seeking God’s presence amidst the bougainvillea while enjoying coffee and the Breviary are enough for me these days, and I feel I get as much – if not more – out of it as I would attending Mass with the throngs.
What Holy Week does for me is to bring my relationship with God and the Church full circle – the memories of childhood and adulthood all rolled into a big emotional ball that makes it hard to focus on little else except the movement of God in time – my time, my family’s time, and all the memories that go along with it. And in doing so I find the Church and my current relationship with it to be less important than what it once was. Just like everything else, it’s a phase, and perhaps next year I’ll be spending Lent doing the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent and immersing myself in the Church’s commemoration of Holy Week with the best of them.
I remember a Good Friday several years back playing gold with a couple of my Goodboys buddies at Trull Brook and wondering if it were appropriate on such a solemn day. But there came a point just prior to our round starting where I found myself virtally alone on the bench by the first tee and being struck at how glorious the surroundings were – the quiet beauty of God’s Creation, the whisper of God’s presence in the breeze that rustled the dead oak leaves that had yet to be pushed to the ground by the new foliage just beginning to appear. At that moment, I felt I was surrounded by a holiness no sanctaury could ever match – immersed in Creation, surrounded by death and life emerging from the dead of winter. On that Good Friday, it all felt so right.
Holy Week serves as a poignant reminder of what our lives are at any point in time: death and life are always around us, behind us, and waiting just around the corner. Accept it for what it is and embrace the now and everything life both good and bad has to offer. It’s God’s plan for all of us. Just this week, one of my co-workers’ brothers passed away after a long battle with cancer only days after one of her fellow team members became a grandmother for the first time. Beginnings and endings, endings and beginnings.
At the close of Mark’s Gospel the angel instructs the frightened women to tell Jesus’ disciples to meet the risen Lord in Galilee, where everything began (Mark 16.7). The endless cycle of humanity and God’s creation which we are and have been since our conception a part of. Alpha and Omega. Death and Life. Holy Week illustrates both in ways never before seen or since in human history.
My prayer is that all who make Goodboys Nation weblog a regular stop find some time for yourself this Holy Week away from the assembled multitudues to find some quite time to drink in what this most holy week of the Church Year is all about.