Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/22/2011 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I witnessed the mystery of a love stronger than death which transforms suffering

Every Good Friday is an encounter with Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ, who stretched out his arms to embrace each one of us.We are reminded that death is no longer the final word. For those filled with hope of the Resurrection, it is no longer an enemy but a friend, the passageway to life eternal. The suffering we are invited to bear, when joined to Jesus Christ, can become a vehicle for love and mercy. This is what St Josemaria Escriva called the "Christian Revolution", suffering transformed by grace.

I raised the Cross so that she could touch it with her lips as a sign of her surrendered love. He smiled at me and directed his beloved wife back to the pew. Words were useless. I knew, he knew, and the Lord knew.

I raised the Cross so that she could touch it with her lips as a sign of her surrendered love. He smiled at me and directed his beloved wife back to the pew. Words were useless. I knew, he knew, and the Lord knew.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/22/2011 (5 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Good Friday, suffering, Cross, marriage, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On some Good Friday´s, I carry the Cross in the procession into an empty Church sanctuary which has been stripped in honor of Jesus Christ who emptied Himself for us. Every Holy Week I am drawn back to a particularly memorable Good Friday experience. While serving at Christ the King Parish in Norfolk, Virginia; I saw the face of love reflected in an elderly married couple. Now, in a wonderful turn of history, I am back with the priest who pastored Christ the King. he is now the pastor of the Church where I am currently assigned.  recently shared this story with him during the 40 Days of lent and he remembered the couple.He only added to my reverence for the beauty of the love which I experienced.  

Years ago, I served as Deacon at the solemn "Celebration of the Lords Passion" at Christ the King parish . I had just carried the Cross into the waiting assembly chanting three times: "This is the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the world," at which the assembly responded, "Come Let us worship." Now that cross, lodged in the arms of the priest, was presented for all who had gathered to come forward and venerate with a kiss or a profound bow, as is the ancient custom.

This frail couple approached. The wife could barely walk without her husband´s loving firm support. As they drew closer, I could see that the husband´s face was filled with deep wrinkles, the kind of love lines etched in the face from suffering borne with grace. His head was covered with unkempt white hair and framed with a coarse white beard. His eyes were filled with pure love for his beloved wife whom he assisted so tenderly as she came forward to venerate the Holy Cross.Her eyes were distant and her face was beautiful, wrinkled but profoundly feminine, revealing a landscape of embedded sorrows and joys, a full life now coming to its winter. As she drew closer, I could tell that the lines in her face had been accentuated by the progressive ravages of Alzheimer´s disease.

He stooped to kiss the cross and in so doing moved his steady hands and his face momentarily away from her gaze. She looked at first afraid, because his face had left her view for a brief moment. I noticed as he came back into her view that a serene look filled her eyes. She seemed to be asking her beloved a simple question with her expression "What now?" He directed her head toward the base of the Cross and in so doing he caught my eyes with his own. Instantly, I raised the Cross so that she could touch it with her lips as a sign of her surrendered love. He smiled at me and directed his beloved wife back to the pew. Words were useless. I knew, he knew, and the Lord knew.

A little later, during the third part of the solemn Good Friday service, when Holy Communion is given to the faithful for the last time before the Easter Vigil, I saw them again. I had the privilege of carrying the Body of Christ to this same couple. She was unable to come forward again because her body just wouldn´t respond to her mind. As I approached them with the consecrated hosts, he insisted that she receive first and directed my hand toward her mouth with great affection and love-- for his wife, but even more for the Eucharistic Lord whom he so obviously loved.

Then he received the Lord, present fully, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Most Holy Eucharist and with a profound smile, responded to my affirmation, "the Body of Christ" with a deep, heartfelt, "Amen." Other words were not needed. He and I both knew we had participated in the mystery we were remembering on this "Good" Friday. His face - and the face of his beloved - revealed the face of Jesus Christ, Love Incarnate.

He and I both knew the beauty of the moment - and we exchanged that knowledge - without words - in the meeting of our eyes. We both knew that this beautiful woman, whom he cherished, was already in the hands of a loving God. It would all be alright. She would one day be made entirely new. The love that he bore for her was a participation in a deeper Love -- the kind revealed on the Cross that they had both just kissed; the kind communicated to them, given to them freely in the Body of Christ they had just consumed. He and I both knew at that moment why we call it "Good" Friday.

As I walked back toward the altar, I recalled another Good Friday from my past. On that Good Friday, I had served as a Deacon at a committal and funeral service for my dear wife´s father, Malcolm. He had died from the ravages of Alzheimer´s disease. For years, in the progression of that disease, I watched Malcolm reveal the Face of the suffering Christ. It culminated in his passage through the final portal of the great mystery of life and the invitation to faith that we call death.

During those years, I also watched my beloved wife, his loving daughter, reveal the Face of Christ. Through her relationship with her Dad (whom she had the privilege of caring for through the progressive stages of Alzheimer´s disease), she became an "icon", a mirror, a living word of love to me and others whose lives she touched through her faithful witness of love.

As her father became a child and his daughter became a second mother to him, I beheld what I now call a "Mary Moment" because it captures the heart of Mary's surrender to the Lord's invitation. I watched my beloved bride truly become, in a new and profound way, a daughter of a merciful Heavenly Father and in that participation in divine Love, embrace her own earthly father with the love that is greater than any that is purely human.

In that chorus of lived out sacrificial love, she resembled Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth whose humble "Fiat" of surrendered love opened the floodgates of heaven and changed all of human history.

This graveside committal service took place, at his request, in Malcolm's childhood home of Andover, Massachusetts. At the traditional time, when Catholics remember Our Lord, Love in the flesh, hanging on Golgotha´s hill, I commended Malcolm to the Mercy revealed on the altar of the Cross. As we placed his remains in the womb of the earth until his resurrection at the last glorious day, I also experienced why it is called "Good" Friday. That too was a moment when words were useless.

As I led the ritual of prayers, I blessed the ground with holy water and spoke these words in a graveside reflection, "I now know a little more deeply why we call it 'Good' Friday - it is good because it reveals the heart of a Good God of boundless merciful love who Himself knows our pain and who, in His Son, transforms it all by redemptive love. This is not the end for our brother, father and friend Malcolm, but it is a new beginning. Life triumphs over death and love transforms pain and suffering because Jesus hung on that Cross on that Friday we call 'Good'. That tomb in Jerusalem is empty now, and one day, so too will this ground give back Malcolm, made entirely new by the power of transforming love!"

Through the encounter with the elderly couple, as well as at the graveside of my father-in-law, I experienced the beauty of truly surrendered love. Every Good Friday is an invitation to each of us to be reminded of that same love through our encounter with Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ, who stretched out his arms to embrace each one of us. On Good Friday we are reminded that death is no longer the final word. For those filled with hope of the Resurrection, it is no longer an enemy but a friend, the passageway to life eternal. We are also promised that the suffering we are invited to bear, when joined to Jesus Christ, can become a vehicle for love and mercy.

At the end of the Good Friday service at Christ the King, when I turned with the priest to face the gathered assembly, my eyes were drawn again to this beautiful couple. I will never forget their faces. I saw the face of Christ revealed. What a privilege it was for me to have experienced each of those two "Good" Fridays. What a privilege it will be to experience another one this year. Love is stronger than death. That is why we call it "Good Friday."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Lent / Easter

Did you know the Catholic Church has a birthday? Watch

Image of Pentecost is widely considered the birthday of the Catholic Church.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We're all familiar with our own birthdays, and we celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. ... continue reading


8 thought-provoking Easter quotes to inspire Watch

Image of Easter is more than eggs and bunnies.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We all love to celebrate Easter with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, candy, cute pictures of bunnies and chicks and we all love to gather together to party! Regardless of how you celebrate Easter, don't forget the real reason for the holiday. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter Bunny hides Easter eggs for children to find on Easter morning. However, the association between a rabbit and the resurrection of ... continue reading


'The Easter message of the risen Christ': Listen to Pope Francis' Easter Mass Watch

Image of Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Mass and focused on Christ and refugees (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, Pope Francis stood before pilgrims gathered at St. Peter's Square for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the pontiff stood before the packed square to speak of Jesus ... continue reading


Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile [not pictured] is the Religion Department chair at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY. He has written nine books for Saint Pauls/Alba House. www.alexbasile.net

By Alex Basile

Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to tomb of her friend and teacher. Fighting back tears and ... continue reading


He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of The Tomb is empty!

By Fr. James Farfaglia

With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all ... continue reading


Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead' Watch

Image of God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear

By Fr. Randy Sly

Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how ... continue reading


Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross Watch

Image of Benedict says,

By Michael Terheyden

Pope Francis said something during his first general audience that inspired me to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured during his Passion for the sake of our redemption. He said, "Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross. ... continue reading


Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty, he sends a spring of living water from the wound, which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride. ... continue reading


All Lent / Easter News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Prayer to Saint Valentine HD Video
  • A Prayer Before Surgery HD Video
  • Like Bartimaeus, We Are Blind: Cry out to Jesus, Lord Help Me to See!
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 26, 2016
  • Miracle for baby born without half his skull
  • St. Philip Neri: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 26, 2016
  • New study reveals Catholics hold highest retention rate - but no one ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 14:18-20
18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take your seat at my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:11-17
11 But the crowds got to know and they went after him. He made them ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2016 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the ... Read More