Good Friday

Pietà. taken from rastko.org

Re-post 2011

“Evening came…”

A few undisciplined meditations on this Day…

This Day, with its eternal hours, is haunting in its strange beauty, mingling horror and glory, shame and mercy, kisses and scourges, jeers and psalms, violence and gentleness, hatred and love, blood and water.

The hymn Today is Suspended leaps to mind – an exquisite hymn of the Orthodox Church sung on this Day. Listen:

On the Cross reality inverts: God places himself at the mercy of his creatures that creatures might be placed at the mercy of God.

On this day, the Bridegroom cries out to his Father, “Why have you abandoned [enkatelipes] me?” {Matthew 27:46} Because your bride awaits you, O Lord. “For this reason a man shall abandon [kataleipsei] his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” {Matthew 19:5}

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My delight is in her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married. — Isaiah 62:4

“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” {Matthew 27:51}

St. John of the Cross wrote a stunning poem called Romances; a colloquy of the Trinity before the first moment of creation. Years ago, after praying it, I wrote a paraphrase of his words:

Before the light had dawned, the Father took counsel with his only Son: “Son, we will create a world vast and lovely, fashioning clay to share in our image, to bear our likeness, and receive our life and love. I will make of them a Bride, lovely, and suitable for you to love, my Son. But know, she will fall away and abandon you; rebel. If you pursue her, and at last clothe yourself yourself in her nature; take her bone and flesh as your own, she will reject you and spit upon you, beat you and put you to a terrible death. But I will raise you from the grave, my Son, that you might pardon her and call her to yourself forever. Do you wish this also, my Son?” The Son replied to his Father, Fiat lux, “Let there be light,” and there was light…

On this Day, the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass falls silent before the bloody Liturgy offered by the only-Begotten God to the Unbegotten God.

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis. Around Golgotha the cosmos turns, whirling in sacred dance as David once did with abandon.

God is slain.

Thus says the Lord:
“What have I done to you, O my people,
And wherein have I offended you?
Answer me.
For I have raised you up out of the prison house of sin and death,
“And you have delivered up your Redeemer to be scourged.
For I have redeemed you from the house of bondage,
And you have nailed your Savior to the cross.
O my people!” — Improperia 

Be silent in awe! We are granted access to the inner chambers of divine life.
Be silent in awe! The thrust of a lance reveals the human heart of God.
Be silent in awe! The sin of all ages unseals for us eternal fountains.

Linger as you can. Breathe deep the mystery of this Day, before night sets in.

Weep o’er our naked disgrace,
shroud your eyes in shame: See!
before us, God! robed in flies;
in Him burns th’eternal Flame.

Let us rest now with God. His Sabbath has come.

2 comments on “Good Friday

  1. Victorious Love says:

    Let us breathe in the the very breath of God in sacred silence.
    For me this is the only proper response to the intimate beauty of such reflections you have shared.
    Or in the simplicity of St. John of the Cross
    “Our greatest need is to be silent before God.”

  2. Jennifer says:

    The beauty of this day and this reflection too powerful to take in all in one sitting. Silence, awe, breathing deep. Thank you, dear Lord, for bathing us in the water and the blood of your mercy!

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