Lent has ended and Holy Week has begun. And you might say that we have all lived a really “good” Lent. The beginning of Lent was marked in a special way, coming as it did on the heels of Pope Francis’ meeting about the abuse crisis with all of the bishops in Rome. Now as we prepare to mount Calvary with Christ, we have heard for the first time from our Pope Emeritus on the same.
In one way or another I think it’s safe to say that this topic has been on the minds of many Catholics this Lenten season. Thinking about how some of my friends and family have described their reactions, they are varied: sorrow, indignation, frustration, disillusion, confusion, shame…etc. If you’re like me, you’re still in the middle of grappling with it all. So what do we do with that experience now, as Holy Week begins?
To that end, I’d like to offer a song that I came across during these Lenten days and that has been a great consolation to me: Look up, Child by Lauren Daigle.
The song starts like this:
Where are you now
When darkness seems to win?
Where are you now
When the world is crumblin’?
Don’t these questions resonate with us? What a powerful description of the state of things! And perhaps we have been asking such questions ourselves recently – where is God in the middle of all of this? Or perhaps even where was God when these tragedies were happening? I think those are very natural and human questions to ask in questions to be considered and prayed over right now.
My invitation for Holy Week for you is this: How can we take these strong experiences, and allow them inform how we live Holy Week?
In other words, how can we actively participate in the Holy Triduum this week, with all that we have thus far lived in 2019? I heard a priest say in a homily this week – this is not just another Holy Week! There has never been a Holy Week 2019, and there will never be another.
Our faith teaches us that Christ is always with those who suffer, that He is right there and that He identifies himself with them in their pain. I would like to make an invitation for us all to allow ourselves to be identified with Christ this Good Friday, as we move through the rise, fall, and triumph of his Passion and Resurrection this week.
Will we allow ourselves to be taken into the ancient rhythm of the liturgy, and move through the suffering with Christ on the Sorrowful Way? And will we allow Him to show us that he is always victorious, that He will rise again from the dead? Will we allow Him to show us how He will bring victory out of this?
Look up, Child
And how important to remember the triumph and the victory! How many people identify with Christ in His Cross, but don’t follow the whole arch of His Passion towards identifying with Him in the victory…Do we really believe that His Resurrection this Easter Sunday will make a difference in our lives?
That first verse in Daigle’s song is followed by the chorus. It says: “Look up, child,” and then again and again, “look up, child!”. What a profound a message in dark times. Don’t forget to look up!
If we don’t “look up” from all the turmoil, how will we see Him rising once again? And what would it be like to allow ourselves to experience Christ’s death AND his Resurrection in our own lives this Holy Week?
Daigle sings “look up, child!” Who does the child look up towards? To the Father. Our Eternal Father. How profound that she reminds us gently of this fundamental relationship, just as Christ calls out to his Father from the Cross.
And what might we find if we look up to the Heavenly Father? I’m not thinking about trite answers, rushed solutions, or any other form of half-cooked response. I think one way of reflecting on “looking up” means remembering that our Eternal Father is in control, and that as a church, we have been through dark times before, and She always prevails in the end. In the Stations of the Cross written by Fr J. Kentenich, we read:
Whenever your Mystical Body is despised,– Fr J Kentenich, Heavenwards
condemned to die and considered dead,
the power of God breaks through
and victoriously creates a new earth.
And if we pray in this way this Holy Week…will it make a difference? In our lives or in the greater life of the Church? For all those affected…? Pope Francis does. In stressing this belief, at the end of the meeting in Rome he stressed this very wisdom from one of our newest modern saints, St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross – aka Edith Stein. (You may guess that I whole heartedly agree with them both).
Finally, I would like to stress the important need to turn this evil into an opportunity for purification. Let us look to the example of Edith Stein – Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross – with the certainty that “in the darkest night, the greatest prophets and saints rise up. Still, the life-giving stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Surely, the decisive events of history of the world have been essentially influenced by souls about whom the history books remain silent. And those souls that we must thank for the decisive events in our personal lives is something that we will know only on that day when all that which is hidden will be brought to light”. The holy, faithful People of God, in its daily silence, in many forms and ways continues to demonstrate and attest with “stubborn” hope that the Lord never abandons but sustains the constant and, in so many cases, painful devotion of his children. The holy and patient, faithful People of God, borne up and enlivened by the Holy Spirit, is the best face of the prophetic Church which puts her Lord at the centre in daily giving of herself.Pope Francis, MEETING “THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IN THE CHURCH”
No one, of course, can promise that anything will change for us if we engage in this process this Holy Week. But one thing is for sure, the only part that we’re in direct control of, and the only part that God in His mercy refuses to do for us, is to make our free decision to be open to Him. If we don’t look up, then, for sure we won’t see a difference.
Mother Mary, help us
And who can help us to reach what may seem an unattainable point of view? Our Blessed Mother. I will leave with you a few verses about Mary from the same Stations of the Cross.
Ever since the second Eve gave you up to death,Fr J. Kentenich, Heavenwards
she understands all the sorrows of the heirs of Adam
and takes care in her motherly way
that they become valuable for the work of redemption.
May I always remain a faithful child of this Mother,
deeply inscribing her name into all hearts.
Then the sorrows that afflict the nations
will awaken a jubilant and resounding hymn of redemption.
May we turn to Her who understands all our sorrows, that we may have strength to surrender all experiences to Christ on the Cross, that our trust in our Heavenly Father may be increased this Easter in the grace of the Resurrection of Christ. A very blessed Holy Week to you all!