The thought that kept coming to my mind as I watched was, "I can't let this suffering, this pain, this incredible love be in vain!" That made me remember that our first duty is the salvation of our own soul. Everyone is precious to God, and He loves you just as much as He loves anyone else. You are the one person whose fate you can decide. Decide that you will not let His blood be shed in vain...that you will do everything in your power to try to love Him and live for Him alone. And if this focus on your own soul seems selfish, just remember what St. Francis of Assisi said: "Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society." Or, as another saint said, "Save yourself and a thousand around you will be saved..." Love draws love.
Another part that always, always moves me to tears is the moment when Our Lady is watching Our Lord carry His Cross, and sees Him fall under it. There is a flashback to Him tripping and falling on the ground when He was a little boy, and Our Lady dropped everything to run to Him. Remembering this, she runs to the side of her suffering Son. This scene really brings home the immense suffering Our Lady went through: the pain of seeing her son, her little boy, treated so cruelly. But she was willing to suffer this that we might be free...we cannot let her suffering be in vain, either. The older I get, the more poignant this scene becomes.
I also love the part with Simon of Cyrene. He's just an ordinary man who is pulled into a life- and earth-changing event. He doesn't realize this immediately, thinking he is just carrying the cross of a condemned criminal, but as he witnesses Our Lord's patience and incredible strength, he realizes that this is no ordinary man. Simon reminds me a bit of all of us...he is just a regular person who God calls to follow His Son, and, with a bit of initial reluctance, he does just that and his life is changed forever.
I feel a bit guilty about how my Lent went - not very well. :( I did not keep many of my resolutions, and I feel really bad about that. I'm going to try and make an effort to make this Holy Week as good as it can be. I'm not doing very well, but I really am trying to try...I guess that's what counts!
I'm really looking forward to the beautiful Triduum services...they are awe-inspiring, especially in the Tridentine Rite. Tonight we have Mass at 7 pm, followed by the stripping of the altars, moving the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose, the washing of the feet, and adoration until midnight. We'll be staying at adoration for a while, I'm not sure how long though. Tomorrow we will attend the Stations of the Cross at 8 am, and the Liturgy at 3 pm, which is followed by adoration until 8 pm. Holy Saturday is a pretty peaceful day with not much going on (except that I believe we're going to start painting the living room that day! o.O) until 9 pm, when the Easter Vigil starts. That is, without a doubt, my favorite service of the liturgical year. It is so solemn, so joyous, with such a feeling of ancientness. As you chant the Litany of the Saints, hear the prophecies, feel the rush of joy that Christ has risen from the dead wash over you, you feel such a strong connection with all the centuries of the Church, back to the very martyrs of the Catacombs.
Like I did at Christmas, I'm going to share an excerpt of my story "No Greater Love" with you here. I hope you enjoy it, and have a blessed and fruitful Holy Week!
Soon Lent came. I began attending Friday evening Holy Hour, which was preceded by the Stations of the Cross. God granted me so many graces those Friday evenings as I knelt in the dim, smoky church contemplating His passion and death, I can’t even begin to tell you about them. There are no words in the human language to describe most of them, and I don’t understand many of them fully. I only will when I reach Heaven. How good our God is to deign to share with us so many secret, hidden things of Himself and of Heaven.
Then came Holy Week, which is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s so holy, so grace-filled, so wonderful, and I always feel closer to Heaven than at any other time.
Mass on Holy Thursday was beautiful, and Father Wiseman’s sermon on the Eucharist held many lights. At the Gloria the bells rang and organ played joyfully – Our Lord is here, present among us! He has given us His Eucharist and is with us until the end of time! But then we remembered that his very night He would suffer a cruel agony, and with this sobering thought the triumphant voice of the organ died away. The stark beauty of the plainchant accompanied our reflections for the rest of Mass.
I stayed very late after Mass on Holy Thursday to pray in front of the Altar of Repose. I always like doing that, to keep Our Lord company on that awful night when everyone, even His closest friends, abandoned Him. I always want to cry when I think of it. As I knelt before Him in the dimly lit church, I promised that here at least was one person who would never leave His side, no matter what happened. Thinking about that actual night, nearly two thousand years ago, I hoped that I was a comfort to Him when He thought of me.
We fasted all day on Good Friday, and kneeling in church that afternoon, I considered how this emptiness we feel from lack of food should echo the emptiness our souls should feel from the absence of our Savior. We heard the telling of the Passion one last time during the long, sorrowful service. The stripped, barren altar, with the candlesticks lying all askew, truly brought home the fact that He was dead. What joy can there be in life, if our only Joy lies cold and still in a tomb?
Holy Saturday was a quiet, peaceful day that culminated in the Easter Vigil Mass. How wonderful that Mass always is! Listening to the beginning of Genesis chanted in the dark church, lit only by the hundreds of little candles, feels like being present at the creation of the world. There is something ancient and glorious about the chanting of the Lumen Christi; the invocation of the saints through their solemn litany; the hauntingly beautiful Kyrie, which reminds you that God was there even before the dawn of time.
But there is an undercurrent of suspense, of great and triumphant joy that wants to break free, and finally it does! The altar boys walked around lighting the lamps on the sides of the church, and it slowly flooded with light as the organ thundered and the bells pealed. The windows of the church were open, letting in the chilly air of the spring night, and you could hear that all through London, the bells were proclaiming their glorious message.
And then the organ settled down, giving the familiar intonation for the Gloria, and once again the beautiful hymn praise resounded. Christmas is a personal and humanly joyful feast – Our Lord is a tiny baby, He is becoming one of us. But on Easter our joy is supernatural and bigger than any of us. Our God has returned to His true home, and through great suffering He has paid the price so that we may join Him there one day. It is something that brings your very soul to its knees in thanksgiving and adoration, and fills you with a foretaste of what He won for us.
Before Holy Communion I felt such a huge longing for Our Lord that it actually hurt. I felt as though I couldn’t wait to receive Him. Then I did, and, oh! I did not notice anything at all after I had. I could really feel a pulling on my soul, and on my body as well. I felt as if I were being pulled upwards by unseen hands, and as though I were not really kneeling there in the church of St. Scholastica’s in London. I was in Heaven.