The Long Good Friday
We’ve shared in the past the phenomena of Good Friday in the monastery, not simply the traditions and rituals of the Triduum, but the hard to describe ache and longing nuns, especially those dedicated to Eucharistic adoration, feel in the tangible absence of the Blessed Sacrament on that one Holy Day of the year when Mass is not celebrated and our Friday and Holy Saturday holy hours are spent before empty tabernacles.
Now, in these days of COVID-19 lock downs, we suddenly find that many, many Catholics no longer have to wonder at our grasping for words about Good Friday and the loss of our Lord. We no longer have to struggle to explain that pain. The tragic irony now is that it is we who still have him day to day in our Chapel and Oratories and everyone out there have hearts that are breaking without the Lord physically close to them.
What good can we do with breaking hearts? Very much. Think about the time Saint Paul urged the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for him. Why? So that they could die together and live together, overflowing with encouragement and joy because of the affliction they were suffering as they moved closer to Christ. Saint Augustine, reflecting on how Saint John described this same goal of Paul’s as seeing God face to face, becoming like him, seeing him as he is; spoke simply and practically, yet profoundly. We cannot grasp seeing God face to face or becoming like him, but, much like one anticipating a gift that is more than we can measure, we can go about ‘stretching our sacks’. That is opening our hearts to the action of the Lord in our lives. Sometimes that means they must be broken open.
St. Augustine’s analogy is that when one expects to get a gift in a sack, one goes about stretching that sack wide so as to receive more…opening it more? Well, Jesus is using the ceasing of public Mass, the closing of Chapels, the lack of gatherings and fellowship to break open all our hearts all the more to receive him fully when he returns. And he will return.
He will return when this crisis passes though that may be long in coming. He will return at the end of time though that may be tomorrow. When he comes, will you have let your heart be broken open for him? When he comes, will he find faith on earth? If you have seen photos of people kneeling outside closed churches, of people prostrate at the doors of a church, drivers getting out of their cars to kneel as a monstrance processes by, cars lining up for drive through confession….perhaps that’s a sign that yes, there is faith on earth. And as these days progress, a fruitful growing gnawing yearning like unto that of physical hunger for the Bread of Life.
He will break open our hearts to teach us that we cannot live without the Eucharist! We cannot live without Jesus any more than we can live without each other.
Thank you Jesus for every place in which you dwell and every heart in which you long and yearn to take up your abode.
Jesus, Mercy! Save souls!