“And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19:30)

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While I still am on a blog pause until October 1, I could not let this Feast of the Cross pass by in silence.

This past week, I found a reflection I wrote back in 1991 on the epiclesis, a Greek word which means “to cry out to” and refers in the Mass to the moment when the priest calls out to the Father to send the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine to transform them into the dead-and-risen Jesus.

You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness.
Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,
so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My reflection, as I recall, emerged from my meditation on St. John Paul II’s comment in Dominus et Vivificantem: “At the price of the Cross the Holy Spirit comes.” I had learned in my liturgy class that there was an etymological affinity between the words epiclesis and paraclesis (whence we get the Spirit’s name, “Paraclete”). Epiclesis means “to cry out to” and paraclesis refers to “one who hears the cry.” So the Paraclete is the One who “hears the cry” of suffering humanity — a cry summed up by Jesus on the Cross: “My God, my God…” And when He comes, He comes to transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, death into life, etc.

My reflection is not structured as a true poem, but rather as a loose association of images from the Passion that, in my mind’s eye, were all mystically present at the Mass each time the priest invoked the Spirit to come “at the price of the Cross.” And, in my mind’s eye, it was for me an epiphany as to why Christians believe in the power of the prayer that rises from those who suffer in faith and charity. In the Kingdom, weakness is power (1 Cor. 12:9ff).

Epiclesis

O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Led to the slaughter,
Lamb without blemish
sullied
stripped
laid bare
to bitter blows
to dry worn whip
shards cut deep
spat upon
accused, cajoled
extolled in jest
lord of the Jews
royal crown of pain
anointed king by blood:

O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Tied, judged condemned
friends fleeing far
rejected by your own
tied and bound
a pillar your Throne
bound by love
tight, worn rough wood
splintered rope
gasp for breath
scream and moan
light dimmed by sweat and blood
thirst, parched
look up to blackness
harken to silence, alone
from the depths sighing
in flesh rent:

O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Taken away
jeers and taunts
this God is despised
led out of the Gates
along the weeping Way
to be mocked, nailed
crushed, pierced
wheat ground
grape pressed
expiring, pardoning
emptying
nothing
lifeless.

Risen, respiring us with life
to the overfilling full.

Come, O Come
O Paschal Dove!

Now consecrate
our agonies
transfiguring
life-giving
for-giving
ever and forever living.

Mysterium fidei.

17 comments on ““And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19:30)

  1. AMDG says:

    Thank you for breaking silence. Thank you for these words. Thank you, Jesus, for your cross.

    Come down upon us, Holy Spirit. Hear our cries and come to us!

  2. trudymm says:

    Your post inspired me and unleashed the poetic mode, well here cines the volley:

    Epiclesis
    Hallaluia, in mercy the greatest of graces God releases

    O Father, send down the Promise, hear da cry of the Enfleshed One!
    According to thy word let all be done

    Led 2da slaughter, Lamb without blemish, sullied, stripped, laid bare
    Never a thought 2 leave us orphaned, without access 2 da best of care

    to bitter blows, to dry worn whip, shards cut deep
    No matter the cost 2 save us, it was a plan Jesus would certainly keep

    spat upon, accused, cajoled, extolled in jest, lord of the Jews
    All that so now we can be recipients and bearer of the GoodNews

    royal crown of pain, anointed king by blood:O Father,send down da Promise,
    Never mind some will be skeptical & and be a doubting Thomas

    hear the cry of the Enfleshed One!
    We delight in being redeemed by your only begotten precious Son

    Tied, judged, condemned, friends fleeing far
    Determined, completing da sublime task that no interference will bar

    rejected by your own, tied & bound, a pillar your Throne, bound by love
    Strengthened 2 endure da torture, Divine help from da Father above

    tight, worn rough wood, splintered rope, gasp for breath
    The greatest of victories coming from Our Christ being put to death

    scream and moan, light dimmed by sweat and blood,thirst, parched
    Our every sin, each one, before your very eyes pranced & marched

    look up to blackness, harken to silence, alone
    Pain being experienced, racking, an ache felt in every single bone

    from the depths sighing in flesh rent:
    Thoughts never going away that you are the Holy One sent

    O Father,send down the Promise, hear the cry of the Enfleshed One!
    No other can accomplish this mission, nobody, no other, none,none

    Taken away jeers and taunts this God is despised
    Such patient endurance one can’t help but be marvelously surprised

    led out of the Gates along the weeping Way
    What a steep price for our sins he had to pay

    2be mocked, nailed, crushed, pierced, wheat ground, grape pressed
    At every level to be taxed and highly stressed

    expiring, pardoning, emptying, nothing, lifeless.
    All the way, mounting the cross, Jesus gave His all, His very best

    Risen, respiring us with life to the overfilling full.
    His help we continue 2 need, at moments He’ll push, then He’ll pull

    Come, O Come O Paschal Dove!
    Fill us, O fill us with your love

    Now consecrate our agonies, transfiguring, life-giving, for-giving
    Give us a new song, let us glory in high praise singing

    ever and forever living
    Freedom bells now jubilantly for us so loudly ringing

    Mysterium fidei
    Jesus Christ has who won a way for us 2 live in truth life anew each day

    It’s up 2 us 2 B attentive, obedient & da Gospel do heed
    If we want 2B part of da up & comin triumphant New Breed
    \☀/
    |
    http://gigapostolate.weebly.com/ / \

  3. DismasDancing says:

    Near the end of the year, 2004, I was experiencing episodes of extremely deep spiritual “warfare” within the core of my soul. Hurricane Ivan had destroyed our home near Fort Walton Beach, FL, both of my parents were experiencing life-ending illnesses, and I had allowed my prayer-life to become stale. In contrast to what you might be thinking–that these events are representative of a series of “bad” events I allowed to create “questions” about my faith–in fact, these events proved, instead, that, in spite of the fact that the “enemy” always seeks to use tragedies to destroy us, the Loving Hand of God, through the Spirit, is forever with us. In the goodness and mercy of the many, many folks who so unselfishly helped us get through these apparent tragedies, I was motivated to “get back to the basics” of my spiritual life. The first event was to attend a parish-sponsored mission, wherein the priest, whom I suspect you know, brother Tom, spoke directly to my heart in ways it had not been reached at previous missions.

    A favorite prayer of mine has always been the “Anima Christi”. I wrote a lengthy meditation on each petition contained therein. It is entitled, “‘Anima Christi’, a Layman’s Meditation”. So when I saw your awesomely beautiful poem (which I shall copy and pray), I remembered the following piece. I pray that you won’t mind if I share it, along with the other beautiful comments from your faithful followers that have posted above. BTW, I share thanks that you broke your silence. It is ever-refreshing when the Holy Spirit induces you to write, since your temporary “exiles” nearly always seem to stir up provocatively beautiful prayers which touch souls and goad to necessary spiritual action. May God bless you always, dear sir!

    “Body of Christ, save me!”

    “And looking up to heaven, He gave thanks. He took the bread in His hands, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His disciples and said, ‘Take this all of You and eat it, this is My Body, which will be given up for You.’” (From the consecration during the Holy sacrifice of the Mass)

    My God, my God why have I forsaken You? My days grow ever longer. My heart remains ever weary. My eyes bleed from the salt of anguished tears. For my sins weigh heavily on my soul; the burden of my sorrow will not release me. The shadow of Your cross crushes my soul with guilt. Shall I never rise from its weight?

    In his sin, David called to Your heavenly father, “Out of the depths I cry unto Thee; Oh, Lord hear my prayer. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!” (Psalm 130) I am lost, my Lord, in a world that would drag me from Your altar. The “harlot” of Revelations lures me, sings softly, promising the world before me, much as that Liar of Hell did at the end of Your 40 day fast in the desert. I fall too many times, for the weakness of my flesh is stronger than the strength of my spirit which cries out, “No more!” The bitterness of the dust on my tongue goads me, “Get up!” The Liar hisses in my ear, “It is easier to stay down.” His foot is heavy, the effort too large. It is so easy to accept the dust of sin than spit it out and rise to carry that cross!”

    “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to thee! Do not hide thy face from me in the day of my distress! Incline thy ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” (Psalm 102)

    They shredded Your back with the whip. They beat You with blunted sticks of bamboo, mocked You in terrible derision, engulfed you in spittle, and, in final infamy, thrust upon your Sacred Head a wickedly woven crown of hideous, dagger-like thorns, driving them deep into Your brow that they might evoke a cry of anguish with which to insult and mock all the more. They reveled in their mocking, their spitting upon You, their blows to Your Divine face, their brutal kicking that inflicted so much more pain to the already severely bruised body. Defying the truth of all of Your claims, they sought mightily to strip You of Your divinity. An impossible task; but one to which they turned with utmost relish.

    And still You crawled on bruised knee and bare, bleeding foot to embrace Your tower on Golgotha, the place of the skull. You are pained to the depths of your Divine Soul. The blood from Gethsemane now mixed with that of the deep gashes from the lash flows without dam. Yet, silence. So unmercifully beaten by us who hate you. And yet, silence. Dignity. Purpose. You utter not a word, not a syllable, not a whimper. There, You are raised up that all might look upon You. You who were first pierced with thorns, then spikes through Your healing hands, and then Your feet. Finally the spear, the coup d’ grace, unhesitatingly, swiftly, and angrily launched into Your heart in confirmation of Your brutal death at the hand of your precious creatures who, at that moment, so desired that You be dead. Again and again I have thrust it angrily into Your side. Again and again, I have slashed You with the whip. Without ceasing I have struck the blows that drive the spikes through Your hands, deep into the wood so that the sacrifice may not escape. Your body with its thousand wounds, each inflicted by my sinful, ungrateful soul; each tear in Your sacred flesh borne because of Your promise to Adam that the Christ would save me from myself.

    My God, my God why have I forsaken You? Even as You raise Your eyes to Your Heavenly Father and whisper to Your creation, “It is finished,” I hear the soft tender voice of my Lord and Savior, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give You rest.” My God! My God! My Lord and my God!

    “This is My Body, which will be given up for You.” Only in Your giving of Your body am I redeemed. Only in Your beckoning for all to “Come unto Me,” is my wretched, sinful soul saved from the power of Hell. Only in the abandonment of my sinful pride to in the face of Your everlasting mercy may I cry unto You, “Body of Christ, save me.” For there is no salvation without Your Body and Blood and the sacrifice of Calvary. There is no salvation without Your glorious resurrection. There is no salvation without Your merciful call to be truly sorry for my sins. There is no salvation lest I be forever humbled before You and what You have done to claim me as Your own–the cross, upon which I, too, must be crucified to this world. Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine. Amen.

    • AMDG says:

      I am filled with gratitude for you (all of you other commenters in this little online community), your humility, and your talent. I am truly, deeply blessed by your love for God. Grace upon grace is bestowed here.

      May He be praised and glorified.

    • J says:

      thank you for sharing this powerful reflection, Dismas.

    • DD: I just finished a lecture on “sacramental imagination” with the seminarians, and the very thing I exhorted them to do — employ in all teaching/preaching a rich flourish of images drawn from Scripture — you did here magnificently. Only a mind that has long been saturated in Scripture-soaked prayer can produce a meditation like this. As AMDG says, the resonances of love for God and humanity are so profound and stirring. The e-community around this site is truly an extraordinary gift to me and many others. God love you!
      DrT

    • trudymm says:

      How blest we are, thank you Jesus. It seems like the Holy Spirit is opening a bottle of spiritual perfume and the aroma is rapidly circulating throughout our spirits. As we labor to savor, inhaling and exhaling, our intoxication with the Divine, the Godhead ever so sublime, will escalate our enjoyment and contentment for “God Alone” ~ “Dieu Suel”.
      📖 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing”

      My “take a way” for today is: “My God, my God why have I forsaken You?”. Reading this from your sharing will be so helpful when the opportunity arises for me to truly trust, and trust is on crutches or badly limping. The thought of forsaking Jesus will help to strengthen me run and not grow weary.
      📖 Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”

      It’s up 2 us 2 B attentive, obedient & da Gospel do heed
      If we want 2B part of da up & comin triumphant New Breed

      \☀/
      | http://gigapostolate.weebly.com/ / \

  4. DismasDancing says:

    To all, thank you so much for your rich comments. As one who constantly struggles with the hateful wiles of our collective enemy, I am both humbled immensely, and resolutely encouraged by your gracious comments. Through each of you and the beautiful additions you bring to Bro Tom’s beautiful sharing of his faith, the Holy Spirit necessarily “hounds” me with “See there! Hang with Me, bro diz. I told you thru St Paul to ‘bear one another’s burdens..’ and they do, don’t they?” As Brother Tom added, “The e-community around this site is truly and extraordinary gift to me and many others…” We are each–and collectively–truly and richly blessed! God love each of you as well.

  5. number two sinner until later today.. says:

    “””Again and again I have thrust it angrily into your side.””” Wow, wow ,wow DD,,, it was here the tears started to flow. I had to stop reading after each succeeding sentence,ending with ” make my heart like unto thine, Amen…” and all this time I thought I was the number one sinner.I begrudgingly pass this coveted title to you dearest dismas until at some point today when upon the umpteenth fall from grace I reclaim it once again. I thank GOD for your humble soul so so so helpful to me and many in our sinful walks toward HIM… I wash your feet LORD with scented oils and kissing them with my sinful lips and drying them with my dirty hair. I love you DD…

    • DismasDancing says:

      My dear N.O.S., My bride, my dear “M”, and I are preparing to travel and visit one of our daughters in Texas; but upon seeing your post, I felt it essential to respond before I hit the road.

      Our brother, Dr Tom, through whom Providence allowed us to meet (if anonymously) has blessed each of us with magnificent opportunities to gather as a group of wretched sinners and share very personal (and genuine) stories of the salvific Love our Savior has so generously showered upon each of us. When I first saw your screen name, “Number One Sinner”, I laughed comfortably, thinking to myself, “Now, here’s a person with whom I know I can easily relate.” Ever since, I have treasured deeply all of your comments. Your comment in this recent response, that you’ve assigned me the #1 sinner appellation, at least temporarily, allowed me an even greater smile and hearty laugh. I appreciated it so much because I know exactly how you meant it and that it came from deep within a humble heart that truly knows the horrible hurt our sins cause that Beloved Savior.

      Certainly, none of us is in a competition to win a trophy honoring our ability to sin “better” than the other. Nor does the world care as long as it, through the “roaring lion seeking to devour us”, can see both of us lying in the same gutter, cursing a God we ourselves have abandoned at every turn. What the world does not see is the beauty contained in Dr. Tom’s posts and the wonderful comments thereto that are as uplifting to me as perhaps anything in which I have participated in years. What the world does not understand is why it matters that, within the relatively “private” confines of this e-site, each of us lifts up all herein in genuine prayer and loving care in Christ’s name that we all, each of us, regardless of how great the sins or how numerous the skeletons in our personal closets, will ultimately cross the only finish line that matters. We seem to gladly and collectively bear the burdens of each other’s sinfulness because Jesus told us through His disciples at the Last Supper to, “Love one another as I have loved you.” I truly do not believe I am alone in the observation that, within these “Neal Obstat” walls, the Spirit flows abundantly, encouraging each of us to not leave our fellow sinner behind in the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute struggle against the Enemy. It is so, so much easier to fight knowing that I am constantly being uplifted by others who fully know the consequences of any failure to pray for others as aggressively and as we pray for ourselves.

      I really have to hit the road. The lovely “M” is reminding me that we are behind sked; so gotta go. Thanks, dear N.O.S. You truly have made my day. Thanks, always, to all for your beautiful faith. Special thanks to Dr. T, Mr. Professor, for making all of this possible. I’d like to figure out a way to get the remainder of the meditations to you. Since you and I seem to have much in common re our faith, perhaps you would enjoy additional meditations. I have to read them periodically myself if nothing other than to remind myself just how much our Redemption cost Jesus, “This Tremendous Lover.”
      God love you all!
      DD

  6. nos. says:

    Dearest DD, if you truly knew me you wouldnot be so quick with the praise my now anonymous friend you truly are to kind… can one ever be to kind hmmm… I hope not. Dearest Dr kneel, again I remind you of the time you gently taught me about true humility… this virtue you exude with humble humility. Your gifts are many ,,, thank you HOLY THREE,,,you can structure this and structure that but in this sinners eyes most all of what you share is poetic. Roses are red violets are blue ,I do love and pray for you Neal clan I do I do I do…how’s that for poetry,,,,,,, you got anything on me kneel!!!!!!! P.B.W.Y.A.A. and as LP says MGBYA…

  7. nos once again says:

    I may have told these stories before and if so humour me… DDs reply to the good doctahs last post reminded me of a time when my youngest child and I were saying the rosary one night she was about 7 at the time… it was on the sorrowful mysteries and in the contemplation before each mystery I was being overly graphic in the cruelty after cruelty after cruelty inflicted on CHRIST … after finishing with the sign of the cross she turns to me and says daddy I don’t want to say the sorrowful mysteries anymore… of course I ask why . She says I don’t like how mean they are to JESUS … I thank the HOLY THREE for the extra helping of compassion given to this child ..she has such a love for all GODS creatures ,however she has developed an intense dislike , inherited from her mother, for fleas ticks, and mosquitos… the other story pertains to today’s Gospel reading. Again she was about 7 this reading came up in the Mass we discussed it briefly later … we have a large family and if you can imagine a banquet table heaping with food platter after platter— three of the family are vegans— I KNOW I KNOW. anyway my wife and I sit at ,picture a clock , 12 and 1 o’clock my daughter was at 4 o’clock and the rest of the kids filling in the rest… the biggest platters stay stayed put and plates were handed to the the closest person who put a helping on and passed it back.. the smaller platters were handed around and each helped themselves and passed it on . Well I noticed my youngest was not putting anything on her plate.I asked her why …with a look that said —weren’t you at Mass— she says” daddy he who is first shall be last and he who is last shall be first!!!!!!! Thank you LORD for this child…P.B.W.Y.A.A. and by way of LP. MGBYA…

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