Good Friday

With slow, heavy steps, a man walks from the Holy City towards a hill, blood dripping, marking his path. He carries a burden that all men should have borne save this one – the weight of which would crush humanity to unending fire. He has been roughly treated all night, taken from governor to king and back, beaten relentlessly with heavy whips, mocked and insulted, and now he has forced on him the instrument of his death, a cross.

Why did we send our King to die? He lived His life in perfection and now goes to die for the crimes of humanity – innumerable sins, sins of blood, sins of the flesh, black souls with their midnight minds, curses of damnation, those that were, and each one that has not been yet, all heaped in a mountain so fell and grievous that only God could overcome it.

He reaches the top and there offers Himself on the altar of the Cross to His Father.
Cold iron driven through hands and feet, muscles and bone racked and stretched, splinters buried in wounds made fresh again when the clothes were pulled from clotting blood, hard dead thorns beaten into the head.

Do we weep for the suffering Christ or our sins which made Him so?
We ask: What have we done? but do we question ‘What are we doing?’
In the millennia since this moment, have we changed? Are we going to change, or continue to strike God with ingratitude?

In all this infinite injustice He prays for us still, “Father, forgive them . . .”

Do not let this Death be for nothing. When someone sacrifices for us we take notice, but how long will Christ be ignored?
There He stands, a mediator between Heaven and Earth, suspended by the sins of men, praying for us all – the Priest, the Sacrifice. A worse crime can never be conceived, no better act imagined. By a death of Love, unending death ceases unless we make it again.

And now, when ‘it is finished’, He willingly dies.

The sky which darkened in anger swells, the earth, baptized in Blood groans with pain and writhes, crying out for vengeance, tombs are shivered and dead men rise against Creation’s darkest moment – but this is the Hour of Mercy. Justice has been satisfied and the Cross stands dark, drunk with blood against the seething heavens. The murderers’ hatred is full. They go now, back to their idol, not knowing what they have done.

Silence falls with the tears of the few who loved Him enough to bear the moment. No heart can break more than our Lady’s did this day. She followed her Son, saw His pain and shared it; counted the bloody steps, heard the iron on iron through flesh. Her child, whom she once gave birth to, cared for with all the love a mother can have – she watched helplessly all the offenses hurled at Him, unable to protect or console Him. All she could do was surrender to the sword of flame that was thrust into her Immaculate Heart, and weep for the sins of her children.
Forgive us, dear Lady, for what we have done.

Evening is growing and a wave of darkness encroaches on the horizon of tomorrow’s sun. The Church has nothing left to say. Christ is dead.

We bury Him now in the heart of the earth, and turn away.

Where to go . . . how can one hide from the pain, the sorrow?
The only Love is dead, the Heart broken, the body exhausted from weeping.

No, there is no place to run, to hide. There is only an empty soul wanting for God.

And this is why we were given a Mother. Mary, the Morning Star – follow her now, in sorrow, in peace. Follow her, go to her as you would your mother. Fall into her arms and let her comfort you as she would have Christ in His agony – yes, weep for your sins and ask her to forgive you for wounding her, to pray for you to her Son that He have mercy on you.

We depart from the tomb now, and wait for the Rising.

Saviour of the world,
Give to me the strength
To carry my cross with you,
And the courage to embrace it to the end.
Let me die with you,
So that I may rise with you to life.

Have mercy on us and on the whole world, O Lord, and remember me when You enter into Your Kingdom.

Holy Thursday

The sun has set, Mass is ended and the Blessed Sacrament has been moved from the tabernacle to the altar of repose.
This night we remember the Last Supper of Jesus with His apostles, His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, betrayal and arrest.
We watch and pray as He asked His companions to . . .

At the Passover the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorposts as a sign that their household belonged to the Lord.
Do we do the same? Is the Blood of Christ in our hearts, is it around the door guarding against evil entry? Too often, I think, we consume the Sacrifice without truly taking Him into our hearts, or worse, have our wills directed contrary to our actions as Judas did – giving Our Lord a kiss to identify Him to His enemies, bringing Him into unloving company.

Jesus was bleeding before His enemies laid hands on Him. The Blood was not sprinkled over a door, but signed the very earth itself and the legions of angels which could have executed justice on the world waited over it for their King.

If you’re one of those to whom nights of little sleep are not foreign, try offering one of those hours each night in reparation for the sins which He bled for then. Be a companion now, since there was no one when He wished for someone to be vigilant with Him, to pray with Him, to comfort His torn Heart.

We continue to follow Him tomorrow to the Death . . .

The Badge of Christian Warfare

We’ve almost reached the mid-point of Lent. Hopefully we have taken the past 20 days in reflection and prayer – and ACTION. Perhaps we have discovered and looked at our faults and flaws, but not done much about them yet.
Reaching the base of a mountain is good, but (tell me if I’m wrong) nobody has surmounted a peak without actually moving upwards – climbing.

Pope Benedict XIV has said:

“The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls.”

Frighteningly strong words, are they not? In observing Lent, we ‘prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ‘. In other words, to hide or shun this holy season, to neglect prayer and penance, to run from suffering, would be to declare ourselves enemies of the Cross.

How does one observe Lent?

“If any man” Christ says, “would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

In Lent, we have 40 days in which to put extra emphasis on carrying our cross. Some can, by extra sacrifices, take bits of others’ and add to their own, while many (if not most) have to spend much of the time just learning how to pick it up, let alone carry it, and even then we tend to wander off the well-beaten path.

As there are two possible ends of our lives, Heaven and Hell, with God or Not With God, (though some argue otherwise) there are two and only two ways to live. For God or Not For God. The former is to follow Christ, carrying your cross, the latter is to do neither, and to go away from Him.
Some say there are other ways to approach sanctity, alternate routes, but Jesus has said that he is “The Way, the Truth and the Life”. ‘The’ – there is ONE.

Carrying is not enough. “FOLLOW ME” He commands. Setting your own goal of perfection is guaranteed to fall short of God’s. We have to “be perfect as the Father is perfect.”

How does one do all that? We are told to be as perfect as God is, to carry a cross, and to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Seems rather impossible. It is – alone, at least.
If you think that your burden is too heavy, it’s probably because you are hauling your own around and left His on the ground a few miles back. What He gives us to carry is “Easy and…light”. He took everything on in His Cross, and now gives us a splinter to carry in proportion to our strength.

Use the rest of Lent to look to God for guidance in all things, never be satisfied in where you are in relation to Him, and stop following your ideas and standards – drop them all – take what He gives you and follow HIM up the mountain.

Memento Homo Quia Pulvis es, et in Pulverem Reveteris.

Thus begins the holy season of Lent – with ashes and a reminder that we are dust, and will return to dust after our death.
Remember! You are nothing but dust! It is a call to Humility, the root of all virtue. Remember! You will return to dust! You will be nothing but dust once you die! Humility.
Too often has man tried to set himself up as something eternal, to replace God. Too many still do the same. Nothing will be left of us after this life, indeed even now we are nothing but dust to be blown to the winds of history. Be humble!
Simultaneously the sign of the Cross of Ashes on our heads is a reminder of the fact that we will die, and die twice unless we act on the warning.
It is carried on our foreheads for a few brief hours; we need to willingly carry it in our hearts for a lifetime. We have the ashes placed on our heads; We need to burn a cross onto our soul.

This Lent, pray for the Humility to better understand your worth without God. Aspire to repay the immeasurable debt of your soul, sacrifice for those who will not, do penance for yourself and all other sinners.

Forty days – but a short time truly, and we will be celebrating the victory of the Risen Christ. Lent and Easter are a little taste of the life now and in eternity – but a short life and then when all is finished, if we have journeyed, lived, suffered, and tasted death and the grave with Christ, we will rise in triumph over Death to live in perfect communion with our God for the everlasting day of Paradise.

As you travel this little time, pause for reflection, look down the road and determine your route – Far, far forever into the unknowable stretches of timeless existence, there are two ends, and one way to each: Calvary to climb, or the easy and dreadful leap into the cracks of Hades.

How are you going to use your Lent?