Wishes for Holy Week 2011

Blessings to you this Holy Week!

 As the church gathers this week, intent on being with Jesus from his entry into Jerusalem through his giving of the Eucharist, his self-offering on the Cross, his dying and entry into the ultimate quiet, to the moment (everlasting) of Resurrection, somehow – as in all of the most significant moments of life – I think of you.

Each year this week provides such an invitation to consider the paschal mystery in Jesus’ life, and so in ours as well.  I have been thinking more in recent years of the necessity for me of not racing past the crucifixion to get to the empty tomb and the reality of new life.

And so this Thursday tells me that community in my life is vitally important.  That importance is most revealed at unrepeatable moments of either joy or sorrow.  But it is true everyday.  To live is to belong together.

This Friday confronts me with the fact that the stuff I most fear I ultimately will have to face.  I must as well run toward it, rather than away from it.  To do so is more reality-based, and somehow, always, in confronting reality we find the real God right there.

This Saturday makes real the moments of in-between-ness when nothing seems to be happening, and yet much that is about to be born is awaiting its time.  Those times, that can feel (in American cultural terms) like a waste of time, may be some of the most vital times of all.

And next Sunday!  What does it say to you and me?  What does it sing?  What does it shout out?  What does it reveal in a blaze of color – color not that the eye sees (though that too!), but colors that the heart knows, colors that embrace the soul and renew hope as a reality that is at times even more vital than faith and love, the greatest gift of all?

Next Sunday reveals God alive forever – both human and divine – both willing and able to share that life with us.  After we have known the delight and the failure of our own communities.  After we have run into and through our own sufferings.  After we have lain fallow in the quiet for a time.  Next Sunday introduces us to Jesus in a moment that is new every time it happens, and in a way that makes known his significance to all the world – to those who have met him and those who have not, to the conscious world and the entire world of creation.

"He is risen!"

I wish you, with all my heart, all the joy to which this week beckons us.

Jean Vanier, the gentle founder of the L’Arche movement (http://http://www.larcheusa.org), connects today with the tomorrow of Easter (and every tomorrow) in lovely fashion:

The Spirit will give us tomorrow what He wants us to live tomorrow, but we must not waste time worrying about it.  We should live the beauties of the relationship we have with Jesus and His Spirit and with each other in the now.  We must become like children living in wonderment and in trust.  The Spirit will give us the peace, the strength and the love to live tomorrow when it comes.  Now, He gives us the strength to live this moment. That is why we must rejoice at all times, rejoice in what He is giving us now – the joys, the sufferings, the peace, the hopes.  This is his gift to us today.

How is your “today”?  I pray that it is already well-blessed.  For me, I miss painfully those of you whom I rarely see, just as I rejoice in the new sisters and brothers whom I am meeting these days.  But I am united with you still in love and prayer.  And whatever pain I feel is nothing in comparison with the pains of this world – of the poor, the ill, of the sufferings of the peoples of Japan and Libya and so many other nations around the globe.  They too are embraced completely in the reality of this Holy Week.  For them, too, if this week speaks truth, there is life beyond the mayhem and chaos of both natural and human-made disaster.

That sense that all of us – every one, and all nature around us – are united in the person of Christ dying and rising was magnificently put in words by one of my favorite religious (and scientific) thinkers of the last century, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  In 1923, he wrote these words:

Glorious Christ,

You whose divine influence is active at the very heart of matter.

And at the dazzling centre where the innumerable fibres of the multiple meet:

You whose power is as implacable as the world and as warm as life,

You whose forehead is of the whiteness of snow.

Whose eyes are of fire,

And whose feet are brighter than molten gold;

You whose hands imprison the stars;

You are the first and the last, the living and the dead and the risen again;

It is to you to whom our being cries out a desire as vast as the universe:

In truth you are our Lord and our God.  Amen.

(from The Mass on the World)

Loving wishes for you this week and in the season to come!

John

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