Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Minor Ritual

It is now Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, and the most glorious feast of our Church.

Before that, though, comes the pain. Why do we call Good Friday "good"?  It is because it IS good, but that's not synonymous with pleasant.

I have my own ritual.

I try to take at least a half day off on Good Friday when possible. I am only minutes from the church. Good Friday is a day of fast and abstinence, so the cup of coffee and yoghurt I had for breakfast is long gone by the time the Crucifixion begins.  I am a hypoglycemic, so fasting hits me a little harder; I run out of blood sugar in a hurry. First the rumbling stomach, then the vise-like headache and dizziness. Eventually it settles down to a hazy aching.

That's when I make the Stations of the Cross.

My discomfort is nothing compared to the Cross. I make the Stations on my own, keeping silence between noon and three o'clock. I walk into the church and I make a move to genuflect to the tabernacle of the Presence. Only there's nobody there. It's open and empty. And I've never felt so devastated.

Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

It is a day of pain.  They beat, and beat, and repeat - and the bleeding won't stop and the bleeding won't cease. They crucified my Lord. I crucified my Lord with my sins. Mea culpa.

The Stations seem to take forever. Bony knees on hard stone. Pain stabbing upward. Ten down, four to go. Slowly, inevitably we make our way to Golgotha. To the Crucifixion. The Pieta. The tomb.

I finish and start to leave. The tabernacle is empty, so the best I can do is a solemn bow in front of the altar. And then there is the waiting. All through Saturday -waiting. Just waiting in limbo. As if Sunday will never come.

And then it does. The stone is rolled away. He is risen from the tomb. Oh yes, oh yes. Thank you. Thank you. Like it is the first time. Thank you. 

The tomb, like the tabernacle, is now empty but for different reasons. Now the emptiness means relief, joy. Now the Goodness of Friday is made manifest.

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