31 Mar 2018

Easter Sunday 2018



Christians, to the Paschal Victim Offer your thankful praises!A Lamb the sheep redeems: Christ, who only is sinless, Reconciles sinners to the Father.Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.Speak, Mary, declaring What you saw, wayfaring. "The tomb of Christ, who is living, The glory of Jesus' resurrection;Bright angels attesting, The shroud and napkin resting. Yes, my Christ my hope is arisen:To Galilee he goes before you." Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!Amen. Alleluia
(Sequence from Mass on Easter Sunday)

On this joyous Easter morn, the SS102fm team wish you every joy and blessing of this Easter Day to you and yours! On this weeks programme, we mark Resurrection Day with an extended gospel reflection with Fr Frank Duhig. 

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.

Gospel - John 20:1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Reflections on this Sunday's gospel:

Easter Message of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem 2018

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1.3)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, jointly send our Easter greetings and joyful proclamation of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour to all people everywhere. From Jerusalem, the place where Christ was raised from the dead, we offer our blessings to the faithful who are celebrating the Feast of the Resurrection at this blessed time.

For over two millennia pilgrims have been following the footsteps of Jesus and streaming to Jerusalem to behold the empty tomb. The Resurrection of our Lord was an historic event which encompassed the whole cosmic order and renewed the face of the entire creation. This is the time where the Christian Family worldwide remembers God’s redeeming work in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jerusalem, the City of Hope and the Resurrection, remains a sacred symbol of God’s salvation and a reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem that is yet to come. In fact this sacred, communal, and spiritual character of Jerusalem continues to be a beacon for hope, peace, and life for the people of this region and the entire world. We pray that we here in the Holy Land may continue unhindered to fulfil our sacred duty as manifestations of the living Gospel to serve the poor, seek justice and walk in the light and love of the risen Christ.

The Holy Gospel tells us that before Jesus Christ ascended to joy he suffered pain, and before entering into glory he was crucified. We pray to almighty God that people who are walking in the way of the cross may find it the way of hope, peace, and life. We hold in our prayers all those who are suffering in our region and throughout the world, and also, all those who are suffering in silence; for refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people, for those who live under oppression, for those in want and deprivation, for all victims of violence and discrimination, and for all who strive for justice and reconciliation.

The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is a constant reminder that the powers of evil and death will not overcome life, instead life has victory over death and darkness. God has reconciled us to Himself in Jesus Christ and called us to the ministry of reconciliation. May the risen Lord strengthen us with His Holy Spirit in order to go forth in his risen life to love and serve and bring the good news to all.

Christ is risen. Alleluia! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate

+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator, Latin Patriarchate

+Fr. Francesco Patton, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land

+Archbishop Anba Antonious, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Aba Embakob, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate

+Archbishop Yaser AL-Ayyash, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate

+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate

+Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

+Bishop Ibrahim Sani Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

+Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

+Most Rev. Krikor-Okosdinos Coussa, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Easter Vigil Homily of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica

Following is the text of the Holy Father’s homily during the Easter Vigil, March 31, 2018, in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope also administered the sacraments of Christian initiation to eight new members of the Church from Albania, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, and United States.


We began this celebration outside, plunged in the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.
These are the hours when the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be spoken at such a moment? The disciple keeps silent in the awareness of his or her own reactions during those crucial hours in the Lord’s life. Before the injustice that condemned the Master, his disciples were silent. Before the calumnies and the false testimony that the Master endured, his disciples said nothing. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion, his disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master. What is more, not only did they not acknowledge him: they hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).

It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.

It is the silent night of those disciples who are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (Jn 11:50).

Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40)1 and to clear the way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: “He is not here, for he has been raised” (Mt 28:6). The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.

Yesterday, we joined the women in contemplating “the one who was pierced” (cf. Jn 19:36; cf. Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid... for he has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person, and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.

He is not here... he is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him he makes our hope and creativity rise, so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.

The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?

He is not here... he is raised! And he awaits you in Gaiilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.

“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out”.

From Calvary to the Holy Sepulcher

The traditional funeral procession on Good Friday that commemorates the placing, anointing and burial of Jesus in the Sepulcher. A celebration that takes place only in Jerusalem.

On the evening of Good Friday, in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, the Franciscans, together with local Christians and pilgrims, recalled the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. From Calvary to the Sepulcher. 

(John 19:16-19)

After these events, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate permission to take away the body of Jesus.

Pilate granted it. Then he went and took Jesus' body [down from the cross].

He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about one hundred pounds.

They then took the body of Jesus and wrapped it, with aromatic ois, in strips of linen: this was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Br. Francesco Patton, together with the authorities, the priest and the pilgrims, recalled the anointing of Jesus' body by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. 

After the final prayer in the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher, everyone left silently.


Cross post from Pilgrim Progress - Sr Louise O'Rourke:

There is absolutely nothing we can do on Holy Saturday, and that is the point. It is a day of desolation and nothingness, a day of darkness and utter emptiness. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering...The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible.  There is nothing to do now except wait… and waiting is the hardest part in this digital and instant age. Holy Saturday is the silent pause between what we have done and what God will do – what only God can do.

On this day God is silent, yet God is still at work. Scripture tells us Holy Saturday is the day Christ descended and ministered to those in Hades, or the place of the dead. This is not a trivial or side matter, which is why “He descended to the dead” finds mention in the Apostles’ Creed. Christ goes to Hades not as a victim, but as a victor.  God’s great reversal begins here. Christ is crucified, and Satan and the forces of evil think they have won the day. Yet the Crucified one storms the place to free those held captive. Tradition affirms that Christ led Adam and Eve out by hand. This is significant too, for we are the spiritual children of Adam and Eve and the Fall.

Today we reflect on that period of confusion and silence, between the sadness of the cross and the joy of Easter. From the bewilderment of Jesus’ disciples to the great faith of Mary, we examine our own lives in light of the great “Sabbath of Time” and draw courage from Mary’s example to face the future with deep hope, patience, love and interior peace. As she waited in faith for the victorious triumph of Her Son over death on the first Holy Saturday, so we too wait with Mary on the present Holy Saturday.

As we behold the body of Jesus in the tomb today, and as we contemplate the mystery of our death, we prepare our hearts to receive the Good News of life.  We know that tomb will be empty and remain empty forever as a sign that our lives will not really end, but only be transformed.  One day, we will all rest in the embrace of Jesus, who knows our death, and who prepares a place for us in everlasting life. But for now, we wait...!

Reflections for Holy Saturday - Waiting by the tomb

"He was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended to the dead.............."

Holy Saturday, Sabbatum Sanctum in Latin, is the last day of Holy Week, and the 40th day of the traditional Lenten fast, although Lent ends liturgically on the evening of Holy Thursday. The evening of Holy Saturday begins the third and final day of the Paschal Triduum. In the Latin Church, no Masses are celebrated on Holy Saturday, and the day is essentially a sparse time of reflection upon Christ's death and burial in anticipation of the Great Vigil of Easter (Paschal Vigil). The vigil usually begins the night of Holy Saturday, lasting until Easter morning. Very little happens on Holy Saturday, that is until the beginning of the Great Paschal Vigil.

The Harrowing of Hell
Creighton University Daily Reflection - Holy Saturday 2018:
On Holy Saturday we enter into the mystery.  Today we contemplate Jesus, there in the tomb, dead.  In that tomb, he is dead, exactly the way each of us will be dead.  We don't easily contemplate dying, but we rarely contemplate being dead.  I have had the blessed experience of being with a number of people who have died, of arriving at a hospital shortly after someone has died, of attending an autopsy, and of praying with health sciences students over donated bodies in gross anatomy class.  These were powerful experiences because they all brought me face-to-face with the mystery of death itself.  With death, life ends.  Breathing stops, and in an instant, the life of this person has ended.  And, in a matter of hours, the body becomes quite cold and life-less -- dramatic evidence, to our senses, that this person no longer exists.  All that is left is this decaying shell that once held his or her life. 
Death is our ultimate fear.  Everything else we fear, every struggle we have, is some taste of, some chilling approach to, the experience of losing our life.  This fear is responsible for so much of our lust and greed, so much of our denial and arrogance, so much of our silly clinging to power, so much of our hectic and anxiety-driven activity.  It is the one, inevitable reality we all will face.  There is not enough time, money, joy, fulfillment, success.  Our physical beauty and strength, our mental competency and agility, all that we have and use to define ourselves, slip away from us with time.  Our lives are limited.  Our existence, in every way we can comprehend it, comes to an end.  We will all die.  In a matter of time, all that will be left of any of us is a decomposing body.
Today is a day to soberly put aside the blinders we have about the mystery of death and our fear of it.  Death is very real and its approach holds great power in our lives.  The "good news" we are about to celebrate has no real power in our lives unless we have faced the reality of death.  To contemplate Jesus' body, there in that tomb, is to look our death in the face, and it is preparation for hearing the Gospel with incredible joy.  That we are saved from the ultimate power of sin and of death itself comes to us as a great relief, as a tremendous liberation.  If Jesus lives, you and I will live!  The mystery of death, which we contemplate today, will be overcome - we will live forever!
The Harrowing of Hell
iBenedictines Holy Saturday 2018 Reflection:
Holy Saturday: once more we experience the silence and stillness of this ‘time out of time’ when earth awaits the Resurrection. It seems so bleak: there are no sacraments, no light, no warmth, and we can do nothing. It is as though life itself were suspended; yet it isn’t. This is the day when God alone acts, powerfully, redemptively. This is the day of God’s unseen activity, the Harrowing of Hell. Tonight the darkness will be shattered for ever and heaven and earth unite in one triumphant blaze of glory and new life. Christ will rise, never to die again. We shall be one with the events of two thousand years ago and all our sin and shame will be seen in a new guise as ‘a happy fault, the necessary sin of Adam,’ and we shall know ourselves loved as never before. Our Redeemer will be with us.
(2017 reflection from iBenedictines here

Walking in Darkness - The Evangelical Liberal
Holy Saturday is a day of remembrance, a day of waiting. It is a day of disappointments, of deferred hopes, of dreams in ruins, of the aching void of grief. A day of darkness, doubt and disappointment, even of despair. It is the day for all those struggling with loss, bereavement, uncertainty, chronic depression or any of the other forms of inner darkness. It is a lightless day when the Sun refuses to rise—the Dark Night of the Soul; the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is a day in which there seems to be no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel; a day when all the former certainties and supports on which life and faith were based have been suddenly snatched away. It is a day which for some can last for months, even years.
Holy Saturday is a day in which hope seems dead and God distant, absent, or worse still an enemy. The writer of Psalm 88, one the bleakest passages in Scripture, knew all too well this experience:
“You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths…
my eyes are dim with grief…
Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
…You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.”
Holy Saturday does not chime with our expectations of the victorious, joyous Christian life; of blessing and intimacy with our loving Father. Yet it is a valid—perhaps a vital—part of the Christian experience; one that most of us will face at some time and which will perhaps do more to shape us in Christ’s likeness than any other. We need to stand with our brothers and sisters who are going through this Holy Saturday experience; for Christ’s sake we dare not shun them, blame them, tell them to pull themselves together, or insist that they should just be happy in Jesus. Christ too has walked through the darkness and dread of Gethsemane and Good Friday; has waited in the tomb of Holy Saturday.
To those who have been in the dark for as long as they can remember, the hope of Easter may seem a distant, even a false and mocking one. Yet it is a certain, unshakeable truth that for all who cling to Jesus, the tomb of death will one day become the womb of new life; however long delayed, day will follow night. Then truly those who walk in darkness will see a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death will the light shine.

Learning to Wait In the Dark: A Holy Saturday Reflection
Holy Saturday reminds me that one has to learn how to be Christian. When I first came to Christian faith, the day meant nothing to me. It was the blank day between the high dramas of Good Friday and Easter, the day when nothing happened. Jesus was dead and buried. Everyone had gone home to get some rest. In the morning he would rise triumphant from the grave but meanwhile there was nothing to do. The church service — if there was one — lasted no more than fifteen minutes. It seemed rude to go shopping after that, or to check the movie listings. So I puttered the day away, rattling around the house doing nothing much while the clock ticked toward Easter. Holy Saturday was a placeholder, an empty set of parentheses, a waiting room for a train that would not come until morning.
.................Sometimes I lay down on a pew, which was how I began to imagine Jesus lying on a stone ledge in the dark. I had been to Jerusalem, so I knew how tombs looked in those days: low holes in rock walls, with narrow bunks inside to hold the dead bodies until the flesh on them was gone and the bones could be gathered up for safe-keeping.
That was where Jesus spent Holy Saturday: in a dark hole in the ground, doing absolutely nothing. It was the Sabbath, after all. His friends had worked hard to make sure he was laid to rest before the sun went down. Then they went home to rest too, because that was what they did on Saturdays. Once it was clear that there was nothing they could do to secure their own lives or the lives of those they loved, they rested in the presence of the Maker of All Life and waited to see what would happen next.
Though Christians speak of “witnesses to the resurrection,” there were no witnesses. Everyone who saw Jesus alive again saw him after. As many years as I have been listening to Easter sermons, I have never heard anyone talk about that part. Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. Whatever happened to Jesus between Saturday and Sunday, it happened in the dark, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. It happened where no one but him could talk about it later, and he did not talk about it — at least not so anyone could explain it to anyone else.
That is what Holy Saturday has taught me about being Christian. Between the great dramas of life, there is almost always a time of empty waiting — with nothing to do and no church service to help — a time when it is necessary to come up with your own words and see how they sound with no other sounds to cover them up. If you are willing to rest in this Sabbath, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face and none of your self-protective labors can do you one bit of good, then you may come as close to the Christ as you will ever get — there in that quiet cave where you wait to see how the Maker of All Life will choose to come to you in the dark.

Laurence Freeman OSB - Holy Saturday
A day of transition. Of choosing between patience and restlessness. Of ‘waiting in joyful hope’ or of anger at loss of control.
I told someone recently of a mutual friend who was ‘in transition’, meaning they were at one of those in between periods of life. The person I was telling looked shocked and utterly taken aback. ‘I would never have thought..’ they started to say. As we could say ‘in transition’ of ourselves or of anyone on pretty well any day or in any phase of life, I was surprised by their response. Then the misunderstanding crept out of the corner where all misunderstandings hide. By ‘in transition’ they thought I meant gender change.
This would indeed be a major transition, filled with fear, hope and anticipation by whoever feels compelled to undertake it. But, in fact, the transition of Holy Saturday for the patient Christian is not less. When we reflect on what is happening deep down in the earth, out of sight, far out of reach of the dualistic mind we see an irreversible, evolutionary change is underway. Having crossed the valley of death, Jesus dives deep into all the layers of matter and consciousness from which the human has arisen, through all the stirrings of planetary and cosmic consciousness.
Icons illustrate this as the ‘descent into hell’, the nether regions that remain untouchable and unknowable to the ordinary functions of the human mind. They are  alien to what we think of as civilisation. Reaching this deep mind of creation, Jesus – and perhaps all who die – touches the source where it is also seen as the point of return. In every cycle there is a turning point, where yin transitions to yang and in time yang yields to yin. In every journey there is a point where we shift imperceptibly from being the one who left to one who is arriving.
Hamlet peers into this journey over the event horizon ‘from whose bourn no traveller returns’. What if one traveller does return? What if that unity that allows us to speak of humanity as a whole, not just as a mass of individuals, were to be touched and gathered into one who makes this journey not just for himself but with and, compassionately, for us? What would that say about our life on the daily surface, about the unity of the human family unity and about the meaning of death, our final finality?
It would be worth waiting patiently for, just to see. We would need patience for the coming of that moment of consciousness, called the vision of faith, where we see that the return has happened because it is happening. To rise from this depth would be more than a transition to another point on the spectrum. It would be a complete transformation, a bridging of opposites, the conquest of fear. Not less, in fact, than a new creation. While still going through the cycles of life, we would be already sharing in the mind of the one who returns, seeing through his eyes. We would feel as if – along with all humanity before and after us – that we were, finally, waking up.

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday - The Lord's descent into hell

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday
The Lord's descent into hell

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages." 

30 Mar 2018

The Way of the Cross led by Pope Francis at the Colosseum

This year, the meditations on the fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross were written by fifteen young people between the ages of 16 and 27. Two things are unusual in this regard. First, there is the age of the authors: they are young people and adolescents, nine of whom are students at the Liceo Pilo Albertelli in Rome. Second, there is the “choral” aspect of their work, which is a symphony of many voices of different tonalities and timbres. These are not “young people” in general; instead, they are Valerio, Maria, Margherita, Francesco, Chiara, Greta and the others.

With the enthusiasm typical of their age, they took up the challenge presented by the Pope in this year devoted particularly to the younger generation. They did so using a precise methodology. Gathered around a table, they read the accounts of the passion of Christ from the four Gospels. In other words, they stood before each scene along the Way of the Cross and “saw” it. Then, after a certain time had passed, each young person spoke about a detail of each scene that had struck him or her the most. In this way, it became easier and more natural to assign the individual stations.

Three key words, three verbs, mark the development of these texts: first, as already stated, is seeing, then encountering, and last, praying.

When we are young, we want to see, we want to see the world around us; we want to see everything. The scene of Good Friday is powerful, even in its horror: seeing it can lead to revulsion or to mercy that provokes an encounter. This was the way of Jesus in the Gospel and every day, including today. He encounters Pilate, Herod, the priests, the guards, his mother, the Cyrenean, the women of Jerusalem and the two thieves, his final companions on the way. When we are young, every day we have a chance to encounter another person, and every encounter is new and surprising. We grow old when we no longer want to see anyone, when fear closes doors and defeats trust and openness. It is the fear of change, because to encounter means to change, to be prepared to set out once more on our journey with new eyes. To see and to encounter leads, finally, to prayer, because seeing and encountering give rise to mercy, even in a world that seems pitiless and, in times like our own, abandoned to senseless anger, meanness and the desire not to be bothered.

Yet if we follow Jesus with all our heart, also on this mysterious journey to the cross, courage and trust can be reborn. After we have seen, and opened ourselves to encounter, we will experience the grace of praying, no longer alone but together.


Read the reflections HERE.

Watch the Stations of the Cross HERE.

Miserere mei, Deus - Have mercy on me, O God

Beauty and suffering are always hand in hand. At the top of the mountain is also the painful reality that we must descend. The beauty of truth also embraces offence, pain, and even the dark mystery of death, and that this can only be found in accepting suffering, not in ignoring it. 

The One who is Beauty itself let himself be slapped in the face, spat upon, crowned with thorns. However, in his Face that is so disfigured, there appears the genuine, extreme beauty: the beauty of love that goes "to the very end"; for this reason it is revealed as greater than falsehood and violence. 

This is Love Transfigured, it is the ‘beauty that saves the world’. This is Love lifted up on the Cross for me, for you, for the whole world

- Sr Louise PDDM

Who is hanging on the Cross today? Who is it? An innocent man, wrongly condemned? A great man, put to death by the small-minded? A radical free thinker, cornered by conservatives? The Incarnate Word of God, suffering for us?

How we identify Jesus Christ entirely determines our experience of Good Friday. For a Catholic, standing in the heart of the Church, the identity of Jesus is clear. In fact, it’s proclaimed every Sunday: ‘I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father’.

If what we say in the Creed is true, whom are we looking at on the Cross? We’re looking at one of the Trinity, the Creator of all things, who holds all things in being, including each of us, including those who crucified him. In all of literature no greater irony has ever been imagined: the almighty God-man is overcome by mere humans, who themselves receive all their power from him. The One who ought to be ‘adored and glorified’ and set on a throne is instead pinned to a piece of wood and bleeds to death. The Liberator is bound. The Source of all life and colour and energy in the universe breathes his last, and leaves behind a grey corpse.

If we look at the Cross through the lenses of Christian orthodoxy, we see an unbelievable, unimaginable event, a theo-drama which renders us awestruck. Humanity has never seen anything like this. In all our religious and philosophical imaginings, we have never conceived of anything like this.

In the liturgies of the Church, East and West, the extraordinary nature of the crucifixion is powerfully expressed, nowhere more so than in the 15th antiphon of Good Friday matins (held on Holy Thursday evening) in the Byzantine liturgy. This is the song which introduces the veneration of the Cross, and it places the crucifixion in the full context of Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy.With equal parts sorrow and amazement, the cantor intones:

'Today he was hung upon a tree, He who hung the earth upon waters,
A crown of thorns was placed on the king of the angels,
He who wrapped the heavens with clouds was wrapped in a purple robe of mockery,
He who freed Adam in the Jordan was struck,
The bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails,
And the Son of the Virgin was pierced with a spear'.

The antiphon concludes, ‘We kneel before your Passion, O Christ’. In the presence of the Cross, this is all the awestruck Christian can do.

- Br Conor OP

He is lifted up on a tall tree, and a placard is attached to show who has been murdered [executed]. Who is it? To say is hard and not to say yet more fearful. Listen then, shuddering at him through whom the earth shook. 
He who hung the earth is hanging. He who fixed the heavens in place has been fixed in place. He who laid the foundations of the universe has been laid on a tree. The master has been profaned. God has been murdered. 
For this reason the great lights turned away, and the day was turned to darkness; to hide the one denuded on the tree, obscuring not the body of the Lord but human eyes.For when the people did not tremble, the earth shook. When the people did not fear, the heavens were afraid. When the people did not rend their garments, the angel rent his own. When the people did not lament, the Lord thundered from heaven, and the most high gave voice.
- Edited Br Columba OSB

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me. 
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. That you may be justified when you give sentence and be without reproach when you judge. 
O see, in guilt was I born, a sinner was I conceived. Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. 
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. 
Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you. O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness. 
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise. 
For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse; my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. 
In your goodness, show favor to Zion: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, holocausts offered on your altar.

Good Friday - He was despised and rejected by men

White Crucifixtion - 1938 - Chagall

Originally sourced online from Ignatian Spirituality quoting "Stages on the Way" from the Iona Community:

It was on the Friday that they ended it all.
Of course, they didn't do it one by one.

They weren't brave enough.
All the stones at the one time or no stones thrown at all.
They did it in crowds.... in crowds where you can feel safe
and lose yourself and shout things you would never shout
on your own, and do things you would never do if you felt
the camera was watching you.
It was a crowd in the church that did it,
and a crowd in the civil service that did it,
and a crowd in the street that did it,
and a crowd on the hill that did it.
And he said nothing.
He took the insults, the bruises, the spit on the face,
the thongs on the back, the curses in the ears.
He took the sight of his friends turning away,
running away.
And he said nothing.
He let them do their worst until their worst was done,
as on Friday they ended it all....
and would have finished themselves had he not cried,
"Father, forgive them all."
And the revolution began.

A number of years back we did a series of posts on the stations which you can find links to below. 

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Good Friday is the mirror held up by Jesus so that we can see ourselves in all our stark reality, and then it turns us to that cross and to his eyes and we hear these words, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." That is us! And so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We see in that cross a love so amazing so divine that it loves us even when we turn away from it, or spurn it, or crucify it. There is no faith in Jesus without understanding that on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for the sinner whoever he or she may be.
- Sr Louise PDDM

What shall I give you, Lord, in return for all Your kindness?
Glory to You for Your love.
Glory to You for Your mercy.
Glory to You for Your patience.
Glory to You for forgiving us all our sins.
Glory to You for coming to save our souls.
Glory to You for Your incarnation in the virgin's womb.
Glory to You for Your bonds.
Glory to You for receiving the cut of the lash.
Glory to You for accepting mockery.
Glory to You for Your crucifixion.
Glory to You for Your burial.
Glory to You for Your resurrection.
Glory to You who were preached to men and women.
Glory to You in whom they believed.
Glory to You who were taken up into heaven.
Glory to You who sit in great glory at the Father's right hand.
Glory to You whose will it is that the sinner should be saved through Your great mercy and compassion.

Ephraem of Syria (ca. 306-373

Is that the son nourished at Mary's breast
"Alas and woe to me"
Or is that the son I carried three terms
"Alas and woe to me"

Or is that the son born in the stable
"Alas and woe to me"
My son my darling your nose and mouth are cut
"Alas and woe to me"

Blunt nails were driven through his feet and hands
"Alas and woe to me"
The spear was put through his beautiful chest
"Alas and woe to me"

A beautiful audio version of psalm 22 in English is available from Corpus Christi Watershed.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
"He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him."

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
"You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!"

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?