Re-post from 2014
We have at last arrived at Holy Week. This week, culminating in the Three Days (Triduum), is the axis of cosmic time. Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, “The cross is steady while the earth spins.”
I will share with you a paschal meditation I wrote sometime in the 1990’s for a priest friend, to honor the anniversary of his ordination. I wrote him, “As I think of the ministerial priesthood you’ve been consecrated with by the Spirit, I think of priesthood’s origin in Jesus’ Passion. There everything to be known is known. Thank you for saying Yes, Pater et Frater, to being ‘cast down’ for us with Him, that we might be raised up to His Father…”
Like a Dish Cast Down
In this world of shallow depths
only what is fair to the eye, and clean
is held aloft in high esteem;
but what is broken, unpleasing to the eye
we shun, we hide, we judge worth to be despised.
But should it be so for us in Christ?
And God, to shatter such folly, chose
to stoop lowly, down from soaring height
far-low into a womb, hidden enclosed.
Highness fell down, God made mercy-crazed,
to shatter our binding, shackling chains
being-bound, flogged, crowned, dazed;
yanked along to the plotted slaughter
to rescue the Plotter: Zion’s captive daughter.
Behold: Immortal Spirit gasps!
Suffocating, ebbing, smoldering Fire:
Could it be that God would expire?
Only if love is mercy,
and justice be duly purged
mocked and cruelly crushed charity.
His priestly prayer is mercy:
Wailing, lamenting, crying,
gathering up our every “Why?”
Gurgled beneath our blackened sky,
Crashing into tear-drenched earth:
God labors, wailing: “Behold your second birth!”
O Icon of the blessèd Three,
Writ upon the cursèd Tree,
on you hung the One begotten. Eternally
shattering from an-Other!
O Substance dispossessed by piercing love,
wastefully Begotten before all ages,
now seen, now heard, now touched in time;
and drained – still now! – but here as chaliced Wine.
Drink, O Man, His immortal Blood; eat Flesh
raised as an up-offering oblation,
ever-ours, mine a consubstantial immolation
thrust deepward into the heart of Adonai…
O Fallen-God, now arise for us
and ever-plead for mortal flesh:
O Thou who art deathlessly undying!
Remember us before your Father’s fleshless Face
— O this is truly grace upon grace! —
and with our eyes look up and (dare I say?)
for us, evermore and evermore,
eternally smile our thankful praise. Amen. Amen.