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Weekly Lenten Meditations
As Lent culminates in the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum during Holy Week and Easter, we find ourselves intimately drawn into the mysteries of our faith in a clear and personal fashion. We cannot participate in the Mass of the Last Supper with the washing of the feet or share in the veneration of the Cross and the proclamation of the Passion or witness new life poured out in the sacraments of initiation after the narration of salvation history in the Vigil readings—we cannot be close to any of those liturgical celebrations without being affected by them. For many people these days are full of activity. For example, those directly involved with the liturgical rites will spend many hours preparing music, flowers, programs, and countless other practical details. For many households, Easter day is a time not just for being in the parish church in our “Sunday best” but also a time for gathering as family and friends with a wonderful meal and visiting. For many Catholics, the Easter celebration occurs within the uninterrupted flow of daily responsibilities—work and home. At the same time, however, the the wonder of the mysteries invite us into some time of stillness and silence. The shocking magnificence of what God is doing gives us pause—to be captivated by awe. Much about the modern world professes a disdain for silence, perhaps because it is vulnerable to enter silence and because silence is so powerful. Silence unmasks the shallowness of what the world tries to sell. Silence inevitably changes the person who yields to it, who consents to meet the One who waits to be found there with a love for which words are too poor.
There is a love so deep and so intense that words cannot express it, and the clearest expression of the intimate communion is reverent silence. In all the details of the Holy Week events, one place where we can encounter the depth of love in silence is accompanying Mary on Holy Saturday.
As Mary, the Mother of Jesus, grieves the loss of her Son, the love in her heart for Jesus is in no way diminished by his crucifixion and death. Her love for him burns as intensely on Holy Saturday as when she first held him in her arms on Christmas day. Her own heart having been pierced in communion with Jesus at Calvary, Mary bears an inexpressible grief because her love for Jesus cannot be extinguished. That grieved love of a mother’s aching heart becomes in her pure prayer, total offering to the Father in utter faith, as she wants nothing other than to be reunited with Jesus. Mary completely accepts the Father’s sacrificial offering of His dearly beloved Son on Good Friday, yet she cannot restrain her heart from wanting more. Her aching heart turned toward the Father is the whole Church’s cry for the Resurrection. How could one possibly live apart from Jesus?
Entering into silence during these holy days opens us to glimpsing into the mystery that we cannot fully comprehend, but we can drink in more deeply. As before an extraordinary masterpiece of art—say, Michelangelo’s Pieta—we have to stop, we have to look, we cannot ignore the beauty. We let it engage us and speak wordlessly to the deepest part of ourselves. The Sacred Triduum summons us to such silent adoration. What does the Holy Spirit communicate directly to my heart of the profundity of God’s saving love—for me personally? How do I discover in silence even more of the truth of who I am by being grasped by this unquenchable fire of love that God bears—for me?! Perhaps God will open a space of silence and stillness so that Mary might guide us with her into the silent posture of pure faith, pure love, and pure prayer. She will help us to pass into the disorienting truth: all this—for me.
Meditation written by Fr. James Rafferty