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.
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 state! It is only in admitting the wretchedness of a life lived in sin without God that we are able to espouse the humility required to notice our own profound need for God to fill us with His Grace!
Indeed, such would be the perfect response we could give to Jesus' complete emptying of His Life for us on the Cross as He pours forth His Love: We are to empty our lives of sin to make space in our heart to receive His Love, so that He might reign supreme as the only King of our Heart. May we allow God to make us uncomfortable? Good Friday is a reality check on our current human condition - both personally and societally. All we need to do to discover the reality of our condition is simply to conduct a thorough examination of conscience. If we take this process seriously, we should notice quite soon our need to run to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in an ever deeper search to make amends with the Lord Who loves us and has given totally of Himself, for our salvation.
As the Beatification of Servant of God Pope John Paul II fast approaches, I am reminded of a dramatically beautiful photograph printed back in March 2005 in the Vatican semi-official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, taken on the Good Friday prior to his passing into eternal life. The beloved pope was too sickly to participate in person at the Via Crucis being held that evening at Rome's Coliseum, as he had during every year for his entire Pontificate up until that moment. Instead, we encounter the Holy Father sitting and participating in the Stations of the Cross via live television feed, and the moment is one of the most tender of his entire Pontificate.
We witness John Paul II embracing the crucifix, and the Lord looks to be speaking from the Cross into the ear of the Holy Father. Ever since first viewing that image, the question has nagged in my mind, "What is Jesus saying to John Paul II from the Cross?" Perhaps they are words of comfort in that beloved Pope's time of great personal agony, during the illness that ultimately would take his life only days later. Maybe Jesus speaks words of understanding, comprehending fully the suffering of man and calling the Holy Father to persevere in the hope of the resurrection, and not to give into despair. Jesus' words even could be those of challenging exhortation: Come, abide with Me where I am. Embrace the wood of the Cross with me and participate in My great saving work.
One thing we know John Paul II must have heard in Jesus' voice is what our Lord says to the Father at every moment of His life on earth and voiced in the Garden of Gethsemane: Not my will, but Thine be done. This past Holy Wednesday, Pope Benedict elaborated on the dynamics of such human surrender to God's Will:
"On his own man is tempted to oppose the will of God, to have the intention to follow his own will, to feel free only if he is autonomous . This is the whole drama of humanity. But in truth this autonomy is erroneous, and this entering into God's will is not an opposition to oneself. It is not a slavery that violates my will, but it is to enter into truth and love, into the good. And Jesus attracts our will, which is opposed to the will of God and seeks its autonomy. He attracts this will of ours on high, to the will of God.
"This is the drama of our redemption, that Jesus attracts our will on high, all our aversion to the will of God and our aversion to death and sin, and unites it to the will of the Father: "Not my will but thine be done." In this transformation of the "no" into "yes", in this insertion of the will of the creature into the will of the Father, he transforms humanity and redeems us. And he invites us to enter into this movement of his: To come out of our "no" and enter into the "yes" of the Son. My will exists, but the decisive will is the will of the Father, because the will of the Father is truth and love."
On Good Friday, Jesus looks down from the Cross in total love upon each one of us and speaks His words of Love, the words that call us to deny ourselves, embrace our personal cross, and follow Him as authentic disciples who seek to live perfectly the will of the Father in our lives. Such a love demands genuine sacrifice, being willing to lay down everything we have and all who we are as a complete gift of self in love for God and neighbor. To do so is the least we can do in responding to the tremendous love He shows us in this Paschal Mystery of our salvation.
If we answer our Lord's vocation for us to love, we will be transfigured more deeply into His the true image and likeness wherever He leads. By the strength of the Holy Spirit poured forth from His Sacred Heart on this day, our hearts will be fulfilled in Jesus' Love, and we will be strengthened in our vocation to live fully as Christians who are to bear the Love of Jesus Christ to a world so longing in thirst for Him.
Fr. Gregory Gresko is the Prior of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his S.T.B. from the Pontificial Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo in Rome and his S.T.L. magna cum laude in Moral Theology (Marriage and Family Studies) in 2008 from the Pontifical Lateran University, John Paul II Institute (Vatican City). His S.T.L. dissertation was entitled, "Educating to Love: Foundational Pedagogy in Light of Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility". Fr. Gregory is working on his doctoral dissertation for the same Vatican institute, on "The Consecration of the Family to the Heart of Jesus in Light of the Pastoral Ministry of Père Mateo Crawley-Boevey"
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people: That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »