(I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic. Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.)
I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report. The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut. I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security. Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet. I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome. Let us take the Jew by surprise for once!
Your first effort on this matter is rather good, but I think we can improve upon it. Incidentally, tell the Greek in his portion of the report to work in a subtle reference to one of Tiberius’ victories with the legions. Tiberius claims to despise flattery. The old fraud, he loves flattery if it isn’t obvious, and I want him in a good mood when he is reading this report, probably the most important report of my career. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Faithful readers will recall the post, here, where I noted that Google observed the birthday of Cesar Chavez on Easter. Today Google is observing Earth Day. I find Earth Day to be a banal, politicized event, redolent of the fuzziest thinking of the Sixties, but if Google wants to observe it, fine by me. I would not have said the same back in 2011 when Earth Day fell on Good Friday and Google decided to observe Earth Day. Google defenders usually state that Google has a policy of not observing religious events. Indeed? Anyone who has not noted that environmentalism has become a huge substitute religion over the past four decades simply hasn’t been paying attention.
A Good Friday meditation on the Cross by commenter Greg Mockeridge.
Out of all Christian symbols, the sign of the Cross is by far the most significant. In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths, the blessings given by priests, which are believed to convey actual grace, are given with the sign of the Cross.
The Cross also symbolizes one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever inflicted in human history. So it should be no surprise that this “sign of contradiction” is seen by many as the largest “stumbling block” of the Christian faith.
Such reaction, while superficially understandable, ignores a foundational truth of human experience large and small as attested to by history: the greatest of life’s triumphs and successes have always come on the heels of the worst failures and horrors.
This truth finds it fulfillment in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord.
While believing firmly in the truth of this great paradox, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Cross symbolized something more than just a paradox, a deeply profound paradox though it may be.
In reading what then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now pope emeritus Benedict XVI) had to say regarding the sign of the cross in his book Spirit of the Liturgy, I believe my hunch was vindicated. The sign of the Cross is the sign of God’s mark on creation prior to being a sign of crucifixion.
He states: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”.
Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis
Christ died for me. The death of Christ on Calvary has immense theological significance: the salvation of all mankind, the redemption from sin and the opening of the gates of Heaven. I understand all of that on an intellectual level. However, on Good Friday the fact that the Creator of All died for me, one of His creations, always hits me like an emotional freight train. All of my life I have been fascinated by courage, especially sacrificial courage where men die to protect others. We are such a flawed species, but capable of the heights of nobility when love and courage combine. Then we put aside the great fear of death, and truly understand why we are here: to love. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
(I post this each year on Good Friday.)
I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report. The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut. I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security. Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet. I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome. Let us take the Jew by surprise for once! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Stand-To: Good Friday Morning
I’d been on duty from two till four.
I went and stared at the dug-out door.
Down in the frowst I heard them snore.
‘Stand to!’ Somebody grunted and swore.
Dawn was misty; the skies were still;
Larks were singing, discordant, shrill;
They seemed happy; but I felt ill.
Deep in water I splashed my way
Up the trench to our bogged front line.
Rain had fallen the whole damned night.
O Jesus, send me a wound to-day,
And I’ll believe in Your bread and wine,
And get my bloody old sins washed white!
Siegfried Sassoon →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The abuse of removing Holy Water from fonts during the season of Lent is a manifestation of the Spirit of Vatican II. Well meaning priests misinterpreted or altogether made up their own discipline by removing Holy Water. Father John Zuhlsdorf has followed this up during the course of Lent 2010 with his most recent posting clarifying why Holy Water should never be removed during the season of Lent except for Good Friday and Holy Saturday:
To all the priests out there still… unbelievably still putting sand in holy water fonts during Lent…
KNOCK IT OFF!
And if you go into a church where you see this sort of idiocy… for the love of God, DON’T bless yourself with SAND.
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.
These short lines have, through the fallen nature of humanity, caused their fair share of trouble over the centuries. The gospel message, through primarily one of hope and redemption, contains one dark undertone: Christ died for our sins. The one truly perfect being suffered horrifically because of our too clear imperfection.
It is in our nature to shy away from that which is unpleasant, and so it is perhaps no surprise that throughout history some Christians have attempted to assuage their own consciences by pointing the finger of blame at an obvious target: the Jews.
Paraclete invites you to take part in a Good Friday tradition that dates back to the eighth century, with the chanting of the Passion Narrative according to Saint John. Take half an hour apart from the events of the day, and listen to these sacred words, chanted by monastic members of the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola, in Latin, in Gregorian chant.
[Click the small "Play Passion Narrative" or "download music" links in the top header of the page -- they can be a little hard to find.]