Daily Archives: March 22, 2008

A Canticle for Holy Saturday: In the Midst of Life

In the midst of life we are in death.
We grow and wither as quickly as flowers;
we disappear like shadows.
To whom can we go for help, but to you, Lord God,
though you are rightly displeased because of our sins?
And yet, Lord God Almighty,
most holy and most merciful Saviour,
deliver us from the bitterness of eternal death.
You know the secrets of our hearts;
mercifully hear us, most worthy judge eternal;
keep us, at our last hour,
in the consolation of your love.

You, O Lord, are gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
As kind as a father is to his children,
so kind is the Lord to those who honour him.
For you know what we are made of;
you remember that we are dust.
As for us, our life is like grass.
We grow and flourish like a wildflower;
then the wind blows on it, and it is gone
no-one sees it again.
But for those who honour the Lord, his love lasts forever,
and his goodness endures for all generations.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Another Prayer for Holy Saturday

Lord God our Father,
maker of heaven and earth:
As the crucified body of your dear Son
was laid in the tomb
to await the glory that would be revealed,
so may we endure
the darkness of this present time
in the sure confidence
that we will rise with him.
We ask this through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

One Form of the Prayers of the People for Holy Saturday

Loving Father, we thank you that your Son, Jesus, our human brother, carried the terrible burden of our sin on his shoulders. But after Jesus, our human brother, offered himself up for us as the perfect sacrifice for all people’s sin, he rested in the tomb, for he was completely exhausted, to the very point of death. As he had always kept your holy law perfectly for our sake, so we thank you that, out of love as our God and brother, he perfectly fulfilled the third commandment, to rest on the Sabbath day.

Refresh us this day as we rest in the peace of your forgiveness. Renew us when we rest in the sleep of death, and fill the deathly silence of the tomb with the promises of your word, especially with the good news of Jesus’ victory over our powerful enemies, Satan, death and sin.

Father, you give us life by your creative Spirit, who is the Lord, the giver of life. You have designed us to rest from each day’s activities in the gentle massage and healing of your precious gift of sleep. Wake us refreshed to live the gift of each new day. Touch our spirits so that we want to please you, as we play out our roles on this earth, even when it means using up our lives for the sake of other people you put near to us, in our families, in the congregation and in our local community.

Marciful God, you have designed us to find peace of mind when we take refuge and rest in your arms of faith. Renew us each day to live as your children. Continue to renew us with your promises, until the day you call us home and we rest in perfect peace, joy and love with you in eternity.

We ask this through Jesus, who entered the tomb of death for us, so that we might live with him forever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

An existence at the Utmost Pitch of Obedience

That the Redeemer is solidarity with the dead, or, better, with this death which makes of the dead, for the first time, dead human beings in all reality”“this is the final consequence of the redemptive mission he has received from the Father. His being with the dead is an existence at the utmost pitch of obedience, and because the One thus obedient is the dead Christ, it constitutes the ”˜obedience of a corpse’ (the phrase is Francis of Assisi’s) of a theologically unique kind. By it Christ takes the existential measure of everything that is sheerly contrary to God, of the entire object of the divine eschatological judgment, which here is grasped in that event in which it is ”˜cast down’ ”¦. But at the same time, this happening gives the measure of the Father’s mission in all its amplitude: the ”˜exploration’ of Hell is an event of the (economic) Trinity.

”“Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Holy Week, Theology

An in-between moment

In this empty hallway, there’s nothing expected of us at this moment. The work is out of our hands, and all we can do is wait, breathe, look around. People sometimes feel like this when they’ve been up all night with someone who’s seriously ill or dying, or when they’ve been through a non-stop series of enormously demanding tasks. A sort of peace, but more a sort of ”˜limbo’, an in-between moment. For now, nothing more to do; tired, empty, slightly numbed, we rest for a bit, knowing that what matters is now happening somewhere else.

”“Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

From the Morning Scripture Readings

So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God;
for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.

–Hebrews 4: 10-11

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid.

HOW life and death in Thee
Agree !
Thou hadst a virgin womb
And tomb.
A Joseph did betroth
Them both.

”“Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Amy Welborn on Jon Hassler

I was honored to work a bit with Mr. Hassler a few years ago, as Loyola Press prepared to bring North of Hope back into print as part of the Loyola Classics series. (I ended up writing the introduction.) It’s an absorbing, big book that may be, on its most obvious level, about a priest, but is more deeply about decisions, regret, redemption and living life at peace in the midst of that reality – life is not what we thought it would be when we were young. But perhaps, miraculously, it is better, even through the pain, than anything our limited vision could have imagined for ourselves.

From my introduction to North of Hope:

”¦into this reality ”” sometimes a very cold and ugly reality, because that is the way life can be ”” warmth creeps, slowly. All of the characters in North of Hope face crises, small and great. The real drama, slower, absorbing, and deep, lies in the process of these same characters emerging from the crises that have shaken them, and accepting that the past cannot be changed. You are where you are, and right now, another choice presents itself. You can drown in regret and self-loathing or you can reconnect with life, with hope ”” with God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Roman Catholic

Terry Teachout on Jon Hassler

“Of all the people I know,” Marquand observed, “only Americans, because of some sort of inferiority complex, keep attempting the impossible and trying to get away from their environment.” Jon Hassler has never made that mistake. His novels are set in the small-town world where he was born and in which he has spent the whole of his 74 years, and his characters are ordinary people who spend their days grappling, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, with the ordinary problems of life, love, aging, and death.

One of the things that makes these characters so distinctive is that many (though not all) of them are churchgoers. Not coincidentally, Hassler is a Catholic novelist, and certain of his books are very decidedly the work of a Catholic novelist. Yet their temperate emotional climate has little in common with the claustrophobic creations of, say, Graham Greene or François Mauriac. In Hassler’s novels, no one, not even the priests, is obsessed with the problem of faith in the modern world, nor do his teachers, grocery-store owners, and family doctors take much of an interest in what Browning called “the dangerous edge of things.” They are simply trying to get along in a complicated world, and though they view that world through the prism of belief, most have learned that few answers are quite so easy as they look.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Roman Catholic

Jon Hassler, beloved Minnesota novelist, RIP

Beloved author Jon Hassler, whose inconquerable will to write became as much admired as his novels steeped in small-town Minnesota, died early Thursday of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a Parkinson’s-like disease. He was 74.

Hassler, of Minneapolis, battled PSP for almost 15 years, a disease that progressively stole his ability to write, to speak and, finally, to walk. But, fueled by the sheer force of will and the love and support of his wife, Gretchen Kresl Hasssler, Hassler devised ways to keep at it.

A spirited problem-solver, Hassler wrote his most recent few novels by “typing.” His fingers, however, would fall randomly on the keyboard, and only he could read the resulting “gibberish.” He’d translate the typewritten pages to Gretchen, who would type then retype them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Roman Catholic

From the Email Bag

Dear Kendall: [My husband] and I are in [a certain geographical locale] for six weeks this year. Going to a small but orthodox Episcopal church and a wonderful non-denominational women’s Bible study, but other than that, it has been a hard six weeks spiritually away from my home parish and diocese. Wanted to let you know what your posting the last couple of days have meant to me. They have been profound and life changing, almost like reading sermons or hearing great preaching. Thank you so very much.

On Good Friday I did take my…dog… over to the ocean to watch the riptides and listen to Christian music. Out of the blue came 30 pelicans, my favorite bird, and it was like a glimpse of the beauty and joy we will experience in Heaven.

Bless you and your family with a glorious Resurrection Day.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Randy Sly–Holy Saturday: The Sounds of Silence

Silence and stillness reigns today. We can reflect on Christ’s descent to the abode of the dead, there declaring that the final death has been conquered once-and-for-all. He preached hope to the hopeless and life [to] those who had none.

Holy Saturday is a day to pray for those who walk among us as the living dead. Their hope is placed in all things other than Christ and, for them, death will be ultimate, final, and hopeless.

Yet, they are living in the interval. The thunder has not sounded, signaling the end. Christ is there for them, declaring the same hope he did on the first Holy Saturday.

Let us pray for our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even those who are known to God but merely cross our path.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

From Manila: Holy Saturday observed today

Today, Holy Saturday, the day after Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, remains a day of watchful expectations among the faithful, harking back to that mournful time when He lay in a borrowed tomb lent by His friend Joseph of Arimathea.

Also known as “Black Saturday,” this was a period of great uncertainty among the followers of Jesus. They felt abandoned after His death without a future to look forward to. It was also on that day that Judas Iscariot, out of remorse over his betrayal of his Master, hanged himself.

In Philippine Catholic churches today, altars remain bare with religious images still draped in black and purple to stress the continuing somber week of the final days of Lent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

In pictures: Good Friday

Take the time to go through them all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Love’s Emptying out has become the Emptiness of Hell

”¦Suddenly all of them standing around the gallows know it: he is gone. Immeasurable emptiness (not solitude) streams forth from the hanging body. Nothing but this fantastic emptiness is any longer at work here. The world with its shape has perished; it tore like a curtain from top to bottom, without making a sound. It fainted away, turned to dust, burst like a bubble. There is nothing more but nothingness itself.

The world is dead.

Love is dead.

God is dead.

Everything that was, was a dream dreamt by no one. The present is all past. The future is nothing. The hand has disappeared from the clock’s face. No more struggle between love and hate, between life and death. Both have been equalized, and love’s emptying out has become the emptiness of hell. One has penetrated the other perfectly. The nadir has reached the zenith: nirvana.

Was that lightning?

Was the form of a Heart visible in the boundless void for a flash as the sky was rent, drifting in the whirlwind through the worldless chaos, driven like a leaf?

Or was it winged, propelled and directed by its own invisible wings, standing as lone survivor between the soulless heavens and the perished earth?

Chaos. Beyond heaven and hell. Shapeless nothingness behind the bounds of creation.

Is that God?

God died on the Cross.

Is that death?

No dead are to be seen.

Is it the end?

Nothing that ends is any longer there.

Is it the beginning?

The beginning of what? In the beginning was the Word. What kind of word? What incomprehensible, formless, meaningless word? But look: What is this light glimmer that wavers and begins to take form in the endless void? It has neither content nor contour.

A nameless thing, more solitary than God, it emerges out of pure emptiness. It is no one. It is anterior to everything. Is it the beginning? It is small and undefined as a drop. Perhaps it is water. But it does not flow. It is not water. It is thicker, more opaque, more viscous than water. It is also not blood, for blood is red, blood is alive, blood has a loud human speech. This is neither water nor blood. It is older than both, a chaotic drop.

Slowly, slowly, unbelievably slowly the drop begins to quicken. We do not know whether this movement is infinite fatigue at death’s extremity or the first beginning – of what?

Quiet, quiet! Hold the breath of your thoughts! It’s still much too early in the day to think of hope. The seed is still much too weak to start whispering about love. But look there: it is indeed moving, a weak, viscous flow. It’s still much too early to speak of a wellspring.

It trickles, lost in the chaos, directionless, without gravity. But more copiously now. A wellspring in the chaos. It leaps out of pure nothingness, it leaps out of itself.

It is not the beginning of God, who eternally and mightily brings himself into existence as Life and Love and triune Bliss.

It is not the beginning of creation, which gently and in slumber slips out of the Creator’s hands.

It is a beginning without parallel, as if Life were arising from Death, as if weariness (already such weariness as no amount of sleep could ever dispel) and the uttermost decay of power were melting at creation’s outer edge, were beginning to flow, because flowing is perhaps a sign and a likeness of weariness which can no longer contain itself, because everything that is strong and solid must in the end dissolve into water. But hadn’t it – in the beginning – also been born from water? And is this wellspring in the chaos, this trickling weariness, not the beginning of a new creation?

The magic of Holy Saturday.

The chaotic fountain remains directionless. Could this be the residue of the Son’s love which, poured out to the last when every vessel cracked and the old world perished, is now making a path for itself to the Father through the glooms of nought?

Or, in spite of it all, is this love trickling on in impotence, unconsciously, laboriously, towards a new creation that does not yet even exist, a creation which is still to be lifted up and given shape? Is it a protoplasm producing itself in the beginning, the first seed of the New Heaven and the New Earth?

The spring leaps up even more plenteously. To be sure, it flows out of a wound and is like the blossom and fruit of a wound; like a tree it sprouts up from this wound. But the wound no longer causes pain. The suffering has been left far behind as the past origin and previous source of today’s wellspring.

What is poured out here is no longer a present suffering, but a suffering that has been concluded”“no longer now a sacrificing love, but a love sacrificed.

Only the wound is there: gaping, the great open gate, the chaos, the nothingness out of which the wellspring leaps forth. Never again will this gate be shut. Just as the first creation arose ever anew out of sheer nothingness, so, too, this second world – still unborn, still caught up in its first rising – will have its sole origin in this wound, which is never to close again.

In the future, all shape must arise out of this gaping void, all wholeness must draw its strength from the creating wound.

High-vaulted triumphal Gate of Life! Armored in gold, armies of graces stream out of you with fiery lances. Deep-dug Fountain of Life! Wave upon wave gushes out of you inexhaustible, ever-flowing, billows of water and blood baptizing the heathen hearts, comforting the yearning souls, rushing over the deserts of guilt, enriching over-abundantly, overflowing every heart that receives it, far surpassing every desire.

”“Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Holy Week, Theology