Wednesday 27 August 2008

'Do it again!' - For all of you who think prayer is repetitive....

I recently heard it said, and I have often thought the same myself, that prayer, or more specifically, Mass, is repetitive. Having recently come home from Lourdes I could say that my experience of praying the Rosary is definitely repetitive. I am not even sure if I manage to think too much about saying all those words. Sometimes I am just drawing a blank. 

In the last chapter of Sing a New Song: A Christian Vocation Timothy Radcliffe OP reflects that repetition is not always the bad thing that  everyone sees it to be. When I am in love I tell someone 'I love them' many times a day. I may also tell everyone else lots too, and I am sure they appreciate that! It is not enough to say 'I love you' once.

GK Chesterton argues, says Radcliffe, that repetition is characteristic of the vitality of children who like the same stories again and again, not because they are bored or unimaginative, but because they delight in life. Chesterton writes:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown up person does it again and again until he is nearly dead, for grown up people are not strong enough to exult in  monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again,' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessities that make all daisies alike; it may be that God makes each daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg.'

Why should prayer be about thinking? Simon Tugwell OP wrote: 'I do not think about my friend when he is there beside me; I am far too busy enjoying his presence. It is when he is absent that I will start to think about him. Thinking about God all too easily leads us to treat him as if he were absent. But he is not absent'

This post is indebted to the work of Timothy Radcliffe OP in Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation. You should buy it!!!! This is pages 297 - 298!

Dreamer - Patrick Kavanagh

'A fool you are,' she said,
'weaving dreams of blue
deceiving sky. Evening folds them all,
and what are you?
Squanderers of centuries and hours
Hold only faded flowers.'

'And why should I,' I answered,
'Walk among the dead?
And you are dead a million years,
The wolves are fed.
A fool who eats the leavings of the Wise,
Who tells me that he dies?'

I read this poem and it reminded me of two things. Firstly, I thought about the Gospel of a few weeks ago - the Canaanite woman who pesters Jesus until he relents to heal her daughter. She is a lady from the 'other side' of society, outcast because of her race and her personal life, but she has within her the faith and courage to ask for everything. I like her.

The second thing that came to mind was starting in Oxford. Who am I? I never thought I would make it this far. What on earth is a Catholic woman doing starting on the path of academic scholarship in Theology? It beggars belief. Yet, this is my path and I will not turn from it. I am determined. Who knows what will become of this adventure?

'Lord,' she said, 'Help me.'He replied: 'It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the little dogs.' She retorted, 'Ah Yes Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from the masters' table.'

Matthew 15: 26 - 28

zed donk and rab

zed donk and rab
Originally uploaded by gemma.hutton
Everyone needs their familiars. Zed, Donk and Rab are the best familiars there are. Nothing can happen without them. They are family.

Friday 22 August 2008

Just one prayer

The rosary seems to be a complicated prayer when you first get to know it. There are lots of prayers to learn, and sometimes, when you hear it recited in public, there will be a pious old lady who knows different prayers, and different orders to say the words you have managed to learn. Obviously her words are the right words, her ways the right ways.

I took be a long time to work my way around the scary sound of the rosary being said in public. It sounds like cultic worship. If you are unsure of what is going on it can be very intimidating. I remember when I was 19 being sent to pick up a contingent of Polish priests at Heathrow Airport. All was going very well with my mission until, as I was reversing out of a particularly tight spot in the car park, they began to pray the rosary. I did not know what was going on; it worried me so much I stalled and then bunny hopped the car into a crash barrier. Classy.  

But, at its heart the rosary is simple. It is a meditation designed for people with busy minds who, in order to concentrate properly on one thing, benefit from a distraction for their hands and wandering thoughts. Ultimately, the praying of rosary is a simple exploration of the life of Christ, taking with you for your guide the most reliable witness, his mother. For me at least, it is imaginative prayer.

Recently I have been using just one line from scripture to help me think about the different events in the Gospels. Each line I choose builds up a prayer founded in the reassurance that Christ will listen.

The Joyful Mysteries would be meditated upon like this:

1. The Annunciation - 'Be it done unto me according to your word'
2. The Visitation - 'Why should I be honoured my a visit from the mother of my Lord?'
3. The Nativity - 'Emmanuel'
4. The Presentation in the Temple - 'At last all powerful master you give leave to your servant to go in peace.'
5. The Finding of the Child Jesus - 'Did you not know I would be about my Father's business?'

It might not be intellectual, but I am not able to hold a very long piece of scripture in my head. This way I can think more clearly about the scenes from the Gospel, and I can relate them to what is happening in life. It seems to me to be a simple method that means that I am not looking for a book to find a relevant piece of scripture every time I come to pray the rosary.


'Tony, Tony, look around! Something is lost that must be found!

I am not sure that organized people can understand what it means to have a devotion to St. Anthony of Padua. You see, I lose things. Lots of things. Many times a day.

Today, on the way home from my sisters house I lost the key to my bicycle. I even heard it drop and can place the exact place on the road where it fell. Many people might not consider this particular key lost. But I did not stop, and cycled on merrily thinking I had run over a bottle top, or some other innocent item of tinkling litter. I got home under cover of darkness at around 11pm, and discovering the key missing realized my mistake. Now, at first light I will have to set off to recover the fallen key.

Many people might suggest that this is a mission with a lost cause, and finding such a thing is an impossibility. But, such faithlessness is not my path. I retain my hope with three factors. a.) St. Anthony is my friend. b.) my keyring has Blessed Damien de Veuster on it, and although his speciality is contagious skin diseases, he inspired my conversion back to Catholicism and wouldn't see me walking around desperate. c.) I have remarkable luck and practice with such things.

As you can see in this photo by Brother Lawrence Lew OP, St. Anthony is, at the best of times, overworked. Many many people rely upon him as their most blessed saint. He joined the Order of St Francis becoming their first theologian 'proper', and later leading the Order as their Minister General. He died in 1263. You might think he is out of date, but let me re-assure you that he is still very much in vogue, and can work miracles on the subject of lost keys.

St. Anthony of Padua is a favourite of mine because he files like me, finds things for me and prays for me.

Amen to that.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Finding Love - Inside Lourdes

On Monday, just before the evening's torchlight procession, I escaped on a solitary mission to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on the far side of the domain. I felt as though I was going against the status quo a little because the Dominicans had kindly organized exposition at the hotel, but I wanted privacy. It was selfish, but in a way I wanted a chapel all to myself!

The domain was crowded. I had to weave my way through thousands of tightly packed pilgrims to get to my destination. Walking across the bridge over the Gave the noise was intense as people from all around the world announced their presence, shouting and singing through loud speakers. There were people everywhere laughing, singing, talking, arguing, praying. I hurried on, driven by a mission to be alone and have some space.

The far side of the grotto, the meadow, is often quieter than the rest of the domain. Walking through the door of the chapel was a moment of transformation. There was stillness and quiet. I could still hear the cries of greeting outside, and the choruses of Ave Maria as the procession got underway. Inside though was cocoon of quiet. There was only one other pilgrim, and he was gently snoring with his head on the bench in front.

I had come with an agenda. I wanted to properly prepare my confession for Wednesday. I knew there would be gravity to this reflection, but I was determined. I had not been to confession in ages. To be honest it makes me nervous and, although I admit that the words of absolution are the most powerful I have ever heard, I still manage to avoid them most of the year around. Coming to the Eucharist with a preset agenda is always a very bad idea. 

Every time I looked towards the altar I was knocked back with a sensation of love. This annoyed me. It was frustrating and not what I had planned. I tried to think about the numerous ways I thought I had offended God in my attitude and ways, but I could not concentrate. In the end I had to give up and pray about love instead.

I thought about how lucky I am never to have felt unloved. It was clear to me that I was surrounded by people who struggled day by day to believe that they were loveable. Love for me has always been unconditional, given and received. No matter what I did in life my family would look out for me. Even on the pilgrimage there were people I would rely on to love me no matter what I did, even it was the most stupid thing in the world. This was not a reflection about wishy washy soft love. It was love that seeks the happiness of others before it looks to the needs of self; love demanding of the greatest sacrifices. I would give everything to the people I love, and I would hold everything back. Knowing that you are loved gives you freedom to make all sorts of mistakes. There is always the option of starting again. I am happy for the people I love to lose their temper with me, and I am happy to lose my temper with them because I am confident that neither party intends any lasting damage. Love doesn't hold grudges.

All this musing brought me to think about judgement, and the sadness which I sometimes recognize in others. People are afraid of the judgement of God - I have known people to have more faith in that than in his love. This can be an isolating experience. I am not sure I have ever been afraid of God's judgement. This is not because I am perfect, I am in fact, quite the opposite. But God cannot be wrong, and therefore judgment can be nothing but liberating. It makes me sad to think of people who worry so much that God is angry that they cannot see love. God is never angry outside of love. The judgement of God is not the reason I rarely make it to confession. I just do not like embarrassing situations and have a lot of pride. 

I am not sure this all makes sense and I am certain that there is no conclusion here. But, that is what I thought. And, when I had thought it I went home feeling loved and lucky.

Saturday 16 August 2008

France's naughty nun recalls her flapper past

I am rushed off my feet, and demotivated. This is a combination which is not terribly helpful to me. However, to cheer me up I have found a distraction: the inspiration of the female human spirit.

The following is the work of  Lizzy Davies in The Guardian, Saturday 16th August 2008.

She was a bright young thing of the Parisian annees folles, the inter-war 'crazy years', who danced into the night with smartly dressed boys and lusted after the latest throw-away fashions. Proud, wilful and flirtatious, she once fell in love with a man for his seductive intellect and beautiful handwriting. (From E: Haven't we all fallen in love with a man for this?)

Paris is in thrall to a  scintillating new volume of memoirs but they are not those of a bohemian writer or 1920's film star. After a life of devotion to charity and Catholicism, France's favourite nun is revealing her naughty side. 'I'm no saint', declared Soeur Emmanuelle in a collection of interviews to be published next week ahead of her 100th birthday. (100? Excellent work sister!)

"I'm bad tempered. I'm vindictive, angry; sometimes malicious. People say I'm hard, capricious and proud." (Sounds like a description of someone I know....)

For the country that views the nun as a national treasure, this self criticism will be hard to swallow. Soeur Emanuelle, born Madeleine Cinquin in 1908, has been dubbed the French Mother Teresa for her work among the poor of the third world. Her popularity has not waned with age: this month she was voted France's sixth most popular personality in a newspaper poll, ahead of Carla Bruni, Gerard Depardieu and Theirry Henry. (Who? Eeewww! and 'oh, yeah - him')

But the image she portrays of her youthful self is a very different woman: a girl torn between a craving for 'immediate pleasure' and an awareness that her vocation was calling her elsewhere. 'I thought only about having fun, dancing, going to watch films, going to the theatre,' she said. 'I loved dancing, preferably with nice looking boys. My mother used to say to me, 'You want boys to like you, to admire you. And of you become a nun...' And I would tell her, 'For God, I would leave the boys alone.'
(And for this, if nothing else, you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!)

Speaking from a peaceful retirement home in the south of France, the Belgian born daughter of a lingerie manufacturer recalled hopping between European capitals in a quest for new thrills with no thought for the cost. 'That was how I behaved,' she said 'Money was no problem for me.' (Ha! Her parents made knickers!)

After taking her religious vows in 1929, Soeur Emmanuelle travelled extensively, teaching for 40 years in the Middle East and North Africa. It was in Tunisa that she met the 'intelligent and seductive man' that she fell in love with.

'I knew what it was to have you heart beat fast.' But she never told him how she felt. 'We were taught never to tell a man you loved him. I thought about it. But I had chosen God. I have no regrets' (Really, none? But, how much did it hurt to love and not say?)

At 63, after she saw the poverty of Cairo's slums, she began working among street dwellers. Her experiences led her to espouse unorthodox Catholic beliefs. She saw no reason why clerics should not wed, while working with young girls who were regularly falling pregnant in Cairo led her to write to Pope John Paul II in support of the contraceptive pill. (A woman who takes both her faith and the practicalities of living very seriously, hoorah!)

This formidable spirit defines her, says Jacques Dufresne, co-author of 'I'm 100 years old, and I'd like to tell you....' 'In a world where people feel that they are being lied to...we love those who put in to practice the ideas that they proclaim.' (What a strange title for the book - say it how it is, sister, don't hold back.)

You can see it now, can't you? I am going to end up buying that book. There is a lot I could learn from this lady.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Today I met a man I haven't seen for ten years. All the time I had thought I was remembering him well - how he looked and how he spoke and the sort of things he said. The first five minutes of the real man shattered the image completely. Not that he had changed. On the contrary. I kept on thinking, 'Yes, of course, of course, I'd forgotten he thought that - or disliked this, or knew so and so - or jerked his head back that way'. I had known all these things once and I recognized them the moment I met them again. But they had all faded out of my mental picture of him, and when they were all replaced by his actual presence the total effect was quite astonishingly different from the image I had carried about with me for those ten years. How can I hope that this is not happening to my memory of H? That this is not happening already?
CS Lewis A Grief Observed

Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I myself am known.
I Corinthians 13: 12

CS Lewis is right. We live with an imagined image of those that we love that are far away. When we come to see them we are shocked by their unimaginable beauty. The beautiful glass image we make of them in our minds is smashed and re-moulded into the a living, more beautiful reality. Losing people, by circumstance and distance is painful. But, it is impossible to imagine what life would have been like without the goodness of their presence in the first place. So, for the most part we are content to have our hearts broken through time and separation, if only because it teaches us to love more fully those moments when it is possible to be together, and appreciate properly the people who we love that are with us every day.

Tuesday 12 August 2008

The Simple Life

Thank God for Bloody Minded Dominicans!

These thoughts are not from me. They are from a friend who came to Lourdes with me. But, I heartily agree with them, they are well expressed and I couldn't do better myself. This is what Lourdes feels like when you spend the rest of your life trying not to look weird.

There is something about Lourdes, something special, and everyone who has been there seems to know it, but none of us seem to be able to isolate quite what it is. I think that it is probably responsible for the number of people who return there every year, and a lot of them do.

When I was there last year I remember one of the talks by the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province. In it he said that people come to Lourdes for different reasons - some people are bullied into it: I was certainly one of those people. I did not want to go to Lourdes at all. I had absolutely no desire to go there, no desire to go on pilgrimage and couldn't for the life of me see why I should give up a week of my precious summer holiday to go somewhere I did not want to go - however good the company! A ruthless and prolonged operation was put in place by several well loved, but bloody minded Dominicans, and when some well loved but bloody minded family friends joined in it proved too much, even for someone as stubborn as me. In a moment of weakness I caved into the pressure, and spent the next few months regretting it intensely. By the time I capitulated the team that had amassed to get me there was fairly large, but there were two people, the two original members, who I held particularly responsible. Although now I am more grateful to them than I can ever verbalize, in the time leading up to the pilgrimage I sincerely wanted to slap them every time they grinned at me, reminding me of their success and my failure.

I realize now that I was quite scared about going. Quite what i was scared of I am not sure, but I suppose that it had something to do with a general attitude I had towards the faith at the time. I believed, there was no doubt about this, but it had taken rather a back seat. I went to Mass every Sunday less because I thought I had to than out of habit. I wanted to see people there, and because, this is what we did on Sundays. A week full of Mass going and a kind of intense religiosity seemed a bit more than I could handle.

But, there is something special about Lourdes and by about a week after I returned I was ensuring that i could go back there the following year, insisting that that family holiday had to be arranged around it. I have spent the last year wondering what that something special is, wondering what it was about that place that touched me so deeply, that changed me so much. I had been wondering and pondering but, to no avail - all I could tell you was that there was something about that place. I knew one of the reasons that it was special to me was because of what happened to me there. I changed in Lourdes in a radical, but probably mostly imperceptible way. I had my own conversion experience, my own little Damascus. But, I also realised that whilst this made Lourdes a special place for me, it was a consequence, not the source of the 'special something', the X Factor. Then, after an entire year of wondering, on my last night in Lourdes this year, I returned from one last solitary late night trip to the grotto and the adoration chapel, and it hit me. Things are, quite frankly, simpler in Lourdes.

In Lourdes, if you want to go an pray in the middle of the day, you just get up an go to the nearest chapel. If you want to go down to the grotto in the middle of the night you can. If you want to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament there are at least two places you can go. You can spend hours sitting quietly in a chapel or in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament if that is what you want. You can go to Mass daily (or even twice if you feel so inclined and the opportunity arises) and it is not a problem. It is absolutely fine. Unremarkable even. You will not face snide or despairing comments, you will not be teased. You will not have to glaze over the hour or so you spent sitting at the back of Church when you give an account of your day. You may even run into someone you know who is also down in the grotto for a late night visit! This is a place where you can run into every type of religious habit under the sun, and see a Bishop in full regalia praying next to you. This is a place where you can spend a week wearing your rosary hanging out of the pocket on your jeans, attached with a carabiner, and not get a single odd look.

Living in a country where being a Catholic is to be definitely in a minority, a world where the outward sign of religion is often deemed unnecessary, ostentatious and sometimes inappropriate, Lourdes is a breath of fresh air. In the words of the two bloody minded, but well loved Dominicans: 'Here, it is OK to be Catholic'. In Lourdes it is simpler.

It is true that its is not always meant to be simple. We are warned explicitly that it won't always be simple. Indeed, we are even meant to be joyful and grateful when it is not. In his sermon on the mount Christ says: 'Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven' (Matthew 5: 11 -12). In the words of St. Peter: 'If you are reviled in the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory, which is the spirit of God, is resting upon you.' (1Peter4: 12). Put simply, we will find it difficult, hard, challenging. In his rule St. Benedict realized this, exhorting patience in the events of 'hardships and unjust treatment' (RB 7.42), and that was in a community of monks.

However, I do think that there is something to be said for one week, every now and then, once a year say, when things are easier. One week when we are fairly sure that we won't be reviled, persecuted or have all kinds of evil uttered against us falsely. One week in which it is not only OK to be Catholic, but actively encouraged. One week when it is easy. I think that if it is easier in this one week to do these things then we will find ourselves spending more time in prayer, listening longer, harder, and more intently to God, hearing more clearly what he is calling us to be and do. And, whether intentionally, consciously, or completely by accident we will find ourselves converting, turning back to God. We will find ourselves attending to the pleas of the prophet Jeremiah: 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn again to the Lord you God.' This one easy week refreshes and rejuvenates us, it gives us back the confidence, the strength, and quite possibly the inclination to go back home and continue the practice of our faith regardless of the reaction we face.

One week of simplicity not only reminds us why we are willing to face the music at home. It reminds us why, deep down, we don't really care about the music.

Monday 11 August 2008

Feeding Crowds

The International Mass at Lourdes is always powerful. It was busy, noisy and crowded. I have never wanted to have a seat at this celebration, there are too many other people with a greater need. This is just as well because if I were to want one I would be disappointed. Eventually I settled between friends leaning against the wall at the side of the Pope Pius X Basilica. When everything is so loud and brash there is a need to retreat into a quiet bubble of contemplation. I can make it silent in my heart. I wanted to focus on the intentions of those next to me. It was good to be huddled together so closely, their presence made it easier to concentrate on their thoughts and those they love. I am quite sure we were all preparing for mass saying the Rosary. There was a purposeful quiet in our little huddle. I took the luminous mysteries for my meditation, in such an atmosphere of celebration it seemed appropriate somehow.

I knew the Gospel would be the Feeding of the 5000, having looked it up during morning prayer. Sometimes the readings in all the different languages can be hard to follow. After the Gospel was read there was complete silence for reflection. It was still, but the atmosphere was expectant, hopeful. There were lots of thoughts flying through my head, scatter brained as I am. I can't really concentrate in places so full of stimuli, ordinarily I would kneel and let my body pray where my mind fails, but it was not quite appropriate here and would have created too much scandalous attention. There was an overwhelming sense that the Feeding of 5000 was about to happen again, through the eucharist, to satisfy the needs of 25 000 pilgrims. People say there are no such things as miracles, but watching the faces of people in that place it is disbelief that amazes me more. I have heard it said that there is enough light in the world for those that want to see the miraculous, and enough darkness for those of an opposite disposition. The International Mass was flooded with light.

At communion I watched the people seek out the priests from whom they should receive the eucharist. Often this is a fairly disorderly affair. I was touched by the need in the faces of the crowd; they were chasing after grace. I still had not been to confession, and was not intending to go until Wednesday (it would take me that long to work up to it). The only prayer I had left was one of surrender. It was time to hand myself over to be broken and made new. There was only a short time after communion before the final blessing and the inevitable rush to beat the crowds from the Basilica. We were all still huddled against the wall, friends praying either side of me. I wondered what they were praying for and, thinking about that for a while, prayed for them before standing to receive Benediction. When I skipped off to find the lady I was charged to look after and bring from the Church in a wheelchair I was really quite tearful, but as usual the business of Lourdes came to the rescue and I could hide behind the jobs that needed to be done.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Lourdes - On the Inside

I have come home from Lourdes. For all the spiritual and emotional turmoil of that place, the hardest part of the experience is the journey home. I have to steel myself up to it. Thinking about the events of the last week I do not want to write about what I saw, not much anyway. It is possible to find out about the sights and sounds of Lourdes, the process of the baths, the processions and the prayers in many places. I would not be able to do them justice here. If writing is a source of prayer, and for me it often is, then I want to try and write honestly about what I felt during the pilgrimage. It might not be possible to do justice to this theme but, before I leave this last week behind and move headlong into the future, I would like to give it a try.

Reading over my diary it would be fair to say that I arrived in Lourdes completely conscious of my need for conversion and confession. It was on my mind. Turning back to God is a gradual process. At the end of a very busy term, and in a panicked rush about my academic work I had crawled into a whirlwind of self obsession, pride and arrogance. When my reaction to not receiving funding from the AHRC for my DPhil was less disappointment than 'more fool them', I knew I had been placing too much emphasis on my own plans in life. I had barely considered if studying full time again was part of God's plan for me. It was definitely time to realign my priorities.

In the first two days of the pilgrimage I could hardly walk along the street without my mind being invaded by the story of the woman with the haemorrage. It did not come from the readings, which were focused on the torments of the prophet Jeremiah. Perhaps it was the crushing crowds and the talk of healing. Whatever the source I could not shake it and so began to pray with it. All that woman wanted was to touch His cloak. She had the faith, but she did not want the attention. She would have done anything not to have been noticed by other people. She did not want to be looked at, especially not by Jesus. Part of being in Lourdes is about taking the time to stop hiding from yourself. There is a call there to pay attention; attention to who you are, and attention to the eyes of God looking upon you. I am sure this is not meant to be frightening, but if you have not done it for a while it can be a bit of a shock. The most vivid experience of this nature happened during a solitary mission to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and I will come back to that later. I would like to explore things in order.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Stations Ending

It was 11 months ago that Under The Cross began with the explicit intention of meditating on the stations of the cross. Now we have reached the journey's traditional end I feel the need to think about whether it was worth it. The main thing I have learnt is how to use imagination carefully in prayer. I take notice of the Stations of the Cross when I go into a church now. I examine them and think about the artist's intentions. What was it they saw in this journey? The Stations speak vividly about Christ's passion, but they are not a reflection upon the past. To allow the stations to speak about living as a Christian today is to give them the freedom for which they were designed. I hinted at the beginning of this quest that I was not sure that the Stations of the Cross could ever be understood, and at the end of this journey I can stand by that claim. I know what each of the stations are, and can confidently pick out appropriate pieces of scripture to help reflect upon them. But, the stations of the cross have a capacity to show people what it means to love with a wounded heart. They speak in a different voice every time they are encountered, touching the present reality and calling for hope, resurrection and healing.

XVI. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Oh, my buried Jesus,
I kiss the stone that closes you in.
You gloriously did rise again on the third day.
I beg you by your resurrection that I may be raised gloriously on the last day,
to be united with you in heaven,
to praise you and love you forever.
I love you Jesus, and I repent of ever having offended you.
Grant that I may love you always; and then do with me as you will.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Virgin of all virgins blest
Listen to my fond request
Let me share your grief divine

XVI. Jesus is laid in the tomb

I have recently been away on pilgrimage, and when we were praying the stations of the cross this station was reflected upon with the words: And the world lost in sadness and grief, became pregnant with the hope of redemption.

The last station of the cross already is inviting people to look ahead. We can see that the story has not finished. This is a moment of quiet, but there is so much to come.

The journey through the stations of the cross is a challenge to be present to suffering in the world. To notice people where no one else bothers, and take the time to think about them, speak to them and help them. This can be tough, but ultimately, like the 14th station, even in the midst of sadness, the stations point towards hope. Towards the end of the story: resurrection.

XVI. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Illustration: Lodwar Cathedral
XVI. Jesus is laid in the tomb

We adore you O Christ and we praise you
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus - though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews - asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came aswell - the same one who had first come to Jesus at night time - and he brought a mixture of myrhh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19: 38 - 42