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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday of Holy Week

Today is the final day of Lent; the season takes us to today, and tomorrow begins the holiest, most sacred days of our entire year: the Triduum.

As I look back upon Lent this year, if I look with human eyes, I see a dismal failure. I see a woman who cannot keep her promises, who has not withstood temptation and frequently has not even TRIED to withstand temptation. I see a woman ready and willing to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver, maybe less. Willing to betray Him for the cost of a slave in order to feed her own worldy desires.

On the other hand, if I have the courage to consider Lent with God's eyes, while I see the weakness and the willful obstinance, I also see a child in need. I see grace. I see a woman ready and willing to suffer for and with Christ, something that has been put to the test. And found lacking in many ways, but...it's a start. The seeds have been planted.

No one comes out of storms unscathed.

We all have to question who we are, and during Lent, we prepare our hearts to face ourselves in the mirror that is Holy Week and most especially, the Triduum. Lent calls us to sacrifice, to suffer a little, to give of ourselves, and to draw closer to God. Unless we know our weaknesses, we cannot bring them to Jesus, and if we are unwilling to feel our wounds, the Divine Physician cannot help us. Some of us need only a hug and reassurance...others need only a band-aid. Still others need stitches and major interventions; but if we are obstinate, we cannot receive this loving treatment. Jesus cannot heal us if we are unwilling to admit that we are broken and fearful.

Each Lent, we make a choice...draw closer to God and admit our failings, or draw away from the source of true happiness? We cannot experience the Resurrection unless we first experience death. There is no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday.

Palm Sunday brings us in contact with a mirror, and gives us a few days to recover. Then we enter Holy Thursday where we see the joy of the institution of the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist, which leaves us in mourning as the presence of Christ is reposed to symbolize His acceptance of death and burial. We are invited to adore the Blessed Sacrament, covered, waiting and watching with Him, and with the Apostles. Tabernacles are left open, abandoned, the sanctuary flame extinguished. Every other day of the year, we enter the Church and genuflect to Jesus Christ, our King and Savior present in the tabernacle. But on Good Friday, we are greeted by an empty tabernacle, for this is the day Christ died. If you've noticed, the Church has an entirely different feel; Christ is not there. Thus, we do not genuflect, but silently enter the pew and wait.

Good Friday should be excruciatingly painful.

I still remember the first Lent of the beginnig of my reversion. At the time, I was attending a small parish, which took great liberties with the Liturgy. The Good Friday liturgy was not well attended; more crowded than the Sunday Mass that normally contained me, but still, the "crowd" was more sparse than at the average Catholic Church.

I remember walking forward for the Veneration of the Cross. It was a huge cross that we had all passed above our heads in the aisle, and it was set into a large base directly in front of the altar. I remember kneeling, wanting to kiss the cross, but hesitant. Most people weren't going that far, and though we'd been invited to do so, most were just crouching with one of their hands at the base. I remember my arrival at the foot of the Cross. I remember going to both knees, really WANTING to kiss the cross, but I only placed my hand there. It was a large cross, and as I knelt, it was as though I could feel the very Blood of Christ dripping upon me. It was as though he was really there, crucified...for me.

I did not kiss the cross that night. But I walked away, in tears, tears that come to me to this day when I contemplate that memory.

By that point, it had been 11 years since I had been to Confession. I did not go to Confession for another year..but that night was instrumental. For the next year, I pondered that experience, and it was the primary thought in my mind the following Lent when I headed out to Our Lady of Grace to be reconciled to Christ, finally.

I died that day, a terrible death...to myself. My tears were as blood, never greater than the blood of the Sacrifice made for me. The blood that had dripped upon my head a year before.

I cannot write of Easter Sunday yet. Because this Lent, I have not really died. I've experienced God's grace, I have seen the blood of Christ on my own hands and I recognize my guilt. I have been to Confession three times, and still, I "feel" unconverted. I am still running away from God. I'm still the unrepentant sinner.

I am Judas. I am Pilate. At best, I am Peter as he fled his own Call.

I wish I could enter the Triduum as a converted soul, a holy saint of a human being...instead, I think I am entering shattered, the mirror I looked into only shards gathered into my hands, piercing my palms, cutting deeply.

No, I'm not ready Lord. All I have to offer are these broken shards. All I have to offer is my own blood...not worth the value of yours.

5 comments:

Anna B. said...

beautiful.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Moving post!

Terry Nelson said...

See, I understand this.

Jackie said...

This was absolutely beautiful, adoro. I myself have had a difficult Lent with keeping my promises. I feel like I tried harder, but fell more and gained less. I too have barely resisted temptation or even wanted to.

But somehow, God in His mercy has used it and helped me to grow. If anything, He's shown that He can actually bring something of worth out of the train-wrecks I get myself into.

Thank you for this post. I is exactly what I needed to read tonight. God Bless.

angelmeg said...

This was really nice.

Still though isn't our offering our little sacrifices to God something like a child who asks his (her) parents for five dollars to buy a gift and then offers the gift back to the parents all wide eyed "Look what I bought for you!"

That was the lesson I learned this Lent. I failed because I tried to do it on my own. Brought to brokenness I was shown the grace that God was offering all along. In Him all things are possible.

When I die to self and live in Him I can accomplish so much more.

I am humbled by what God can do in me.