Wisdom from a Monk: Fr. Gregory on the Fullness of the Paschal Mystery
If we celebrate this Easter Triduum with the gravity it deserves, we may find ourselves suspended in time
If we celebrate this Easter Triduum with the gravity it deserves, we may find ourselves suspended in time. We discover ourselves in real time alongside Jesus in the Agony at the Garden, or witnessing His brutal scourging by the Roman soldiers, or perhaps next to the women of Jerusalem who mourn loudly with wails and tears for their Lord. Ultimately, we find ourselves at the foot of the Cross of Jesus alongside the Virgin Mary the Blessed Mother of God and the Beloved Apostle John.
Blessed John Paul II kissing the feet of the Crucified Christ
RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - We Catholics now find ourselves in the midst of the holiest part of Holy Week, the Easter Triduum, that three-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday in which we walk intimately with Jesus through His bitter Passion and Death, so that we might share in His Easter Resurrection. For us truly to experience the fullness of Easter in all of its splendor, we must be willing to enter as deeply as possible into the Paschal Mystery - that is, the passion, death, and resurrection - of our Lord Jesus.
Good Friday -- the moment when Jesus has been betrayed, tried, tortured, and now led to Calvary to be crucified by the angry mob - was a perfect day on which to meditate upon these mysteries, through the solemn liturgical celebration of the Lord's Passion, or perhaps through serious meditation upon the Stations of the Cross (the Via Crucis) or by reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Whatever sacrifices we made on this day, we know in our heart that they pale in comparison to what Jesus has done for each one of us for our salvation.
We may take great comfort, though, that Jesus is so deeply pleased even with the littlest things we do to show Him love. The Stations of the Cross speak this truth, as Veronica simply but with depth of loving compassion wipes the face of Jesus, and Jesus returns her gift by leaving the image of His Holy Face on her handkerchief. We see here that when we express our even meager, little acts of love for Jesus, He is comforted and responds with a most generous, superabundant Love.
If we celebrate this Easter Triduum with the gravity it deserves, we may find ourselves suspended in time. We discover ourselves in real time alongside Jesus in the Agony at the Garden, or witnessing His brutal scourging by the Roman soldiers, or perhaps next to the women of Jerusalem who mourn loudly with wails and tears for their Lord. Ultimately, we find ourselves at the foot of the Cross of Jesus alongside the Virgin Mary the Blessed Mother of God and the Beloved Apostle John. We have much to learn from these two most faithful disciples of the Lord.
Certainly they spent much of Jesus' three hours - if not virtually every moment - gazing upon the One Who was pierced for our salvation. Just what would they have seen? They look with loving eyes, gazing into the Love of Jesus Christ shed for them personally in His numerous wounds. Every thorn of His kingly Crown, every laceration from the scourging, and every bruise speak of the depths to which our Lord humbles Himself to show perfect Love for you and for me. What tremendous lengths God goes through to show us the depths of His Love!
What is the response we give? Do we return the gaze of love back to Him, or do we ignore Him? Our parish churches and oratories should be packed to the gills on these holiest of days, if only the world were to pay close enough attention to the Lord of Love. Are we ourselves awake to encounter our Lord in His Love for us, and are we awakening others to His Love? Or rather, have we fallen asleep like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, with spirits willing but flesh so weak, and God's Love remains unnoticed?
As our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI said so poignantly in his Wednesday catechesis of this Holy Week, speaking to the moment of the disciples' slumber in the Garden:
"The somnolence of the disciples was not only the problem of that moment, but it is the problem of the whole of history. The question is of what this somnolence consists, and what is the vigilance to which the Lord invites us. I would say that the disciples' somnolence in the course of history is a certain insensitivity of soul to the power of evil, an insensitivity to all the evil of the world. We do not want to let ourselves be too disturbed by these things, we want to forget them. We think that perhaps it is not so grave, and we forget.
"And it is not only insensitivity to evil; instead, we should be watching to do good, to struggle for the force of good. It is insensitivity to God - this is our real somnolence: This insensitivity to the presence of God that makes us insensensitive also to evil. We do not listen to God - it would bother us - and so we do not listen, of course, to the force of evil either, and we stay on the path of our comfort".
Our condition is wretched indeed, as the words of the famous Christian hymn Amazing Grace speak so truthfully. In light of some of these recent words of our Holy Father, why would we be surprised to witness many hymnals change the words of the initial lines Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me into words more convenient and comfortable, not mentioning the painful reminder of our wretchedly sinful ...
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