No easy crown to make.
Did they wear gloves?
Did their hands bleed,
Mingling with your blood?
No easy crown to wear,
To hold in place
While acting out their game,
Excited by your blood.
By your response . . .
As you do.
Sheila Billingsley sent us these three poems very recently; they arrived on Easter Eve, Holy Saturday. Though the first two shorter poems are about the events of Thursday night and Friday they are infused with Easter, so here they are, as close to Easter as we could get them; the others follow tomorrow and the next day. A shame to put them by until next year.
Here is Christina Rossetti’s meditation on Good Friday. The reference to a stone and a rock being struck goes back to Exodus 17; see below.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross, To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon – I, only I.
Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more And smite a rock.
So the people were thirsty there for want of water, and murmured against Moses, saying: Why didst thou make us go forth out of Egypt, to kill us and our children, and our beasts with thirst? And Moses cried to the Lord, saying: What shall I do to this people? Yet a little more and they will stone me.
And the Lord said to Moses: Go before the people, and take with thee of the ancients of Israel: and take in thy hand the rod wherewith thou didst strike the river, and go. Behold I will stand there before thee, upon the rock Horeb: and thou shalt strike the rock, and water shall come out of it that the people may drink.
Moses did so before the ancients of Israel: And he called the name of that place Temptation, because the chiding of the children of Israel, and for that they tempted the Lord, saying: Is the Lord amongst us or not?
Scripture references: Matthew 16:13-23, Get behind me; Luke 23:28, John 19:20-22, crowds watching.
Peter recalls when Jesus said that he would be killed, and Peter tried to stop him from going to Jerusalem.
It was a struggle to keep sight of Jesus on the way to Calvary. Not that he could make any speed, weak as he was, and with the soldiers, the crowds watching him go by, the hundreds who seemed to be following him.
I heard he had fallen, even with Simon on hand to help. I saw blood on the stones as I came up behind. Always I was behind him.
‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he once said. And now it comes to this: what was God thinking of?
And now it comes to my turn. Lord I am behind you, but not far behind now!
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom!
Our Saviour’s cross is the throne of delights. That Centre of Eternity, that Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradise of God. There are we entertained with the wonder of all ages. There we enter into the heart of the universe. There we behold the admiration of Angels. There we find the price and elixir of our joys.
As on every side of the earth all heavy things tend to the centre; so all nations ought on every side to flow in unto it. It is not by going with the feet, but by journeys of the Soul, that we travel thither. By withdrawing our thoughts from wandering in the streets of this World, to the contemplation and serious meditation of His blood sufferings. Where the carcase is thither will the eagle be gathered together. Our eyes must be towards it, our hearts set upon it, our affections drawn, and of thoughts and minds United to it. When I am lifted up, saith the Son of Man, I will draw all men unto me.
Traherne was able to reconcile science and faith with his remarks on gravity.
Welcome back to Friar Austin and his explorations of today’s thinking theologically.
We have all heard of Original Sin – and there is abundant evidence that it is still with us. But what is it? Let us begin with recognising the fact that there is collective and social violence accompanying everyday living [starting with Cain and Abel]. It has been called humanity’s family secret [Sebastian Moore, OSB] – it is against this backdrop that one man shedding his blood becomes real.
Salvation through shedding blood has had every possible expression and meaning. To appreciate this better we need to be more aware not so much of how we get to God, as how God gets to us. Original Sin has things to tell us about ourselves in a way that highlights the wonder of salvation.
It is only natural to assume that what I desire starts and ends with me – I know what I want. But there is a prior question: do I make my desire or does my desiring make me? My desiring first comes through being aware of some other person desiring. This prompts me to follow, even imitate, until eventually and inevitably, imitation gives way to rivalry: I may like what you are wearing enough to do the same – but then seek to justify the choice as being mine only; it is in this way that I identify myself through being me against… [X has a big house I will get a bigger one] – And that is me.
Being passed-over causes resentment, and sets me against – what makes my desire mine is that it isn’t yours! The “me” is now in place through being opposed to the other [not me] as the fruit of my desire. By contrast, Jesus sees himself as only gift – given to me by Abba, to enjoy, and to know where I’m from and where I can go. This is the crux of the matter – not me through being opposed to any other… I’m me as only gift… Given by the totally other to me. And this is not just a personal reality it is social and cultural – waiting in the wings to be kick-started by any desire intense enough to do so. [Desire is what humankind has in place of animal instinct].
Anne has been a supporter of Agnellus mirror since we started, but this is the first time she has written for us. She writes first about a special place that my family loves as well: Bruges in Belgium. It’s good for her to continue where Chris left off writing about Belgium.
Tomorrow she develops the theme of Divine Mercy that came to her when visiting the lower chapel of the Basilica.
On a recent trip to Bruges I visited the Basilica of the Precious Blood. In the Upper Chapel there is a Relic of the Precious Blood of Christ.
The oldest reference to this relic was written in 1255. The relic has been carried through the streets of Bruges in a yearly procession since 1304 – in modern times on the Feast of the Ascension.
In the beautiful Romanesque Lower Basilica Chapel, which dates back to the Twelfth Century, on the altar there is an image of the pelican feeding her babies.
The symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby chicks is rooted in an ancient legend that preceded Christianity: in times of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with her beak to feed her dying young and save them from death, but in turn lost her own life.
It is easy to see why the early Christians adopted this to symbolise Our Lord Jesus. We know that we find new life through His blood on the Cross and through receiving his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.