Category : Holy Week

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast gone to the Father to prepare a place for us: Grant us so to live in communion with thee here on earth, that hereafter we may enjoy the fullness of thy presence; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

(Reuters) In pictures: Easter 2022 celebrations around the world

There are 25 in all.

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

The Archbishop of York’s 2022 Easter Day sermon

In this exile for the past two years and in this fast, everything that challenges our world and everything that we depended on to sustain our Christian life was suspended, but Christ remained. His love endured.

There we were, on our own, cut off in the upper rooms of our homes and unable to go to church, and Christ found us.

I see this in Craigie Aitchison’s images of the isolated Christ, who comes to us in our isolation, showing us that we don’t actually need anything else, and that in the end all the things we enjoy – material blessings, other people, the worship and comfort of the church, the sacraments themselves – all of them will cease.

Or to put it another way; He is Risen. This is the great Easter hope. In his dying and rising, we find our identity as those who are redeemed and restored by Christ. We find ourselves within the life of the God who now bears the scars of passion.

Or rather, Christ finds us. He comes to us, as he came to Mary Magdalene, and he asks why we’re crying and who we’re looking for.

He has returned to take us with him. Like Mary and like Elizabeth who will be baptised in just a moment, He know us by name. He shows us what really matters.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Holy Week

Music for Easter–The Lord is Risen Indeed! William Billings

Listen to it all and you can read more about it, including finding the lyrics, at Lent and Beyond.

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that pierced died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not paper-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike (1932-2009)

Posted in Holy Week, Poetry & Literature, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon 2022

But the Easter message is that what we cannot do has been brought into the world by God.

For Christ Jesus is alive with the life of the world to come. A life where every tear is wiped away, every injustice righted, every evil exposed and judged and banished. And through Jesus a new future is set for the whole world. The resurrection promises each nation, and every victim and survivor, that the injustices, cruelties, evil deeds and soulless institutions of this world do not have the last word.

Not only his blood stained grave clothes are left behind in the tomb but all of our grave clothes.

This is what we proclaim at Easter. It is a season of life and hope, of repentance and renewal. This week in the Eastern Orthodox world it is Holy Week, the greatest time for repentance. Muslims are in Ramadan, a time for purification and change, coming to Eid. Jews celebrate the Passover and liberation. Let this be a time for Russian ceasefire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks. This is a time for resetting the ways of peace, not for what Bismarck called blood and iron. Let Christ prevail! Let the darkness of war be banished.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Easter, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

Easter Night

All night had shout of men, and cry
Of woeful women filled His way;
Until that noon of sombre sky
On Friday, clamour and display
Smote Him; no solitude had He,
No silence, since Gethsemane.

Public was Death; but Power, but Might,
But Life again, but Victory,
Were hushed within the dead of night,
The shutter’d dark, the secrecy.
And all alone, alone, alone,
He rose again behind the stone.

–Alice Meynell (1847-1922)

Posted in Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Truth of Holy Saturday: Only the wound is there

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), Heart of the World (San Francisco: Ignatious Press, 1979 E.T. of the 1954 German original), pp.150-153

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Holy Week, Theology

Eugene Peterson on Holy Saturday

Yet, there was one large omission that set all other truth dangerously at risk: the omission of holy rest. The refusal to be silent. The obsessive avoidance of emptiness. The denial of any experience and any people in the least bit suggestive of godforsakenness.

It was far more than an annual ignorance on Holy Saturday; it was religiously fueled, weekly arrogance. Not only was the Good Friday crucifixion bridged to the Easter resurrection by this day furious with energy and lucrative with reward, but all the gospel truths were likewise set as either introductions or conclusions to the human action that displayed our prowess and our virtue every week of the year. God was background to our business. Every gospel truth was maintained intact and all the human energy was wholly admirable, but the rhythms were all wrong, the proportions wildly skewed. Desolation””and with it companionship with the desolate, from first-century Semites to twentieth-century Indians””was all but wiped from consciousness.
But there came a point at which I was convinced that it was critically important to pay more attention to what God does than what I do; to find daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get that awareness into my bones. Holy Saturday for a start. And then, times to visit people in despair, and learn their names, and wait for resurrection.

Embedded in my memory now is this most poignant irony: those seven or eight Indians, with the Thunderbird empties lying around, drunk in the alley behind the Pastime Baron Saturday afternoon, while we Scandinavian Christians worked diligently late into the night, oblivious to the holiness of the day. The Indians were in despair, religious despair, something very much like the Holy Saturday despair narrated in the Gospels. Their way of life had come to nothing, the only buffalo left to them engraved on nickels, a couple of which one of their squaws had paid out that morning for four bony ham hocks. The early sacredness of their lives was a wasteland; and they, godforsaken as they supposed, drugged their despair with Thunderbird and buried their dead visions and dreams in the alley behind the Pastime, ignorant of the God at work beneath their emptiness.

Take the time to read it all.

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Holy Week

The Transition

Holy Saturday is a neglected day in parish life. Few people attend the Services. Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.

In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death the Christ continues to effect triumph.

–Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983)

Posted in Holy Week, Theology

A prayer for Holy Saturday from the ACNA prayerbook

‘O God of the living, on this day your Son our Savior descended to the place of the dead: Look with kindness on all of us who wait in hope for liberation from the corruption of sin and death, and give us a share in the glory of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.’

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Russ Leo on Holy Saturday and the Reformation

‘In a sermon preached before King Edward VI on 19 April 1549, Hugh Latimer (1487–1555) reeled over contemporary challenges to the traditional view of the Descensus Christi ad inferos: “Here is much ado! These new upstarting spirits say, ‘Christ never descended into hell, neither in body nor soul.’”[22] Against such cavils, Latimer affirms that Christ did descend to hell, locally—that is, his soul truly and physically descended to the place (locus), hell, to redeem and liberate the righteous who died on earth before his death on the cross. In many ways, for many believers, this traditional view endured the Reformation.’

Read it all.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

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.

–Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Posted in Holy Week, Theology

A Prayer for Holy Saturday by Michael Keeler-Walker

Loving Father, in the despair of your death upon the cross, our minds search the horizon in the hope and anticipation that we might but glimpse the light of your Easter resurrection.

In the silence of today, we remember that in death you remained hidden from the world and in our sorrow we keep watch with you. Through the stillness speak to us the words of confidence that we might not keep our faith concealed but instead go forth to share with others the gift of love that you so freely give to us.
Amen.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Prayer for Holy Saturday

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who as on this day didst rest in the sepulchre, and didst thereby sanctify the grave to be a bed of hope to thy people: Make us so to abound in sorrow for our sins, which were the cause of thy passion, that when our bodies rest in the dust, our souls may live with thee; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Jesus Christ was Buried

“By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”. In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins” but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, reveals God’s great sabbath rest after the fulfillment of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.

–The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, para. 624

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecclesiology, Holy Week, Theology

Music for Holy Saturday–Spiegel im Spiegel for Cello and Piano (Arvo Pärt)

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

In the End A Sort of Quietness

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been, if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you, you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.

–C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Holy Week, Theology

A Canticle for Holy Saturday

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 Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for Today from the Church of England

Grant, Lord,
that we who are baptized into the death
of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
may continually put to death our evil desires
and be buried with him;
and that through the grave and gate of death
we may pass to our joyful resurrection;
through his merits,
who died and was buried and rose again for us,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

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 Holy Week, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) In pictures: Good Friday around the world

Look through them all.

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Photos/Photography

Another Prayer for Good Friday from George Tims

Grant, O Lord, unto us, and to all thy servants, the grace of perseverance unto the end; in the power of him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, even thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Day from Daily Prayer

O God, the Father of mankind, who didst suffer thine only Son to be set forth as a spectacle despised, derided, and scornfully arrayed, yet in his humiliation to reveal his majesty: Draw us, we beseech thee, both to behold the Man and to worship the King, immortal, eternal, world without end.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

Eleanor Parker–One of the most moving medieval poems about the Crucifixion

“Mother, now I may you say:
Better that I alone should die
Than all mankind should go to hell.”
“Son, I see your body swung,
Your breast, your hand, your foot through-stung; [pierced]
No wonder that I mourn!”

“Mother, if I dare you tell,
If I die not, you will go to hell;
I suffer this death for your sake.”
“Son, you are so meek and kind;
Blame me not, it is my kind [nature]
That I for you this sorrow make.”

“Mother, have mercy! let me die,
Adam out of hell to buy
And all mankind that is forlorn!”
“Son, what would you have me do?
Your pain pains me to death;
Let me die before you.”

“Mother, now you may well learn
What pain they endure who children bear,
What sorrow they have who children lose.”
“Son, indeed, I can you tell,
No sorrow but the pain of hell
Is greater than to suffer so!”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

How shall I measure out thy bloud?

O My chief good,
How shall I measure out thy bloud?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one starre show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or can not leaves, but fruit, be signe
Of the true vine?

Then let each houre
Of my whole life one grief devoure;
That thy distresse through all may runne,
And be my sunne.
Or rather let
My severall sinnes their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sinne may so.

Since bloud is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloudie fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sinne:

That when sinne spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sinne may say,
No room for me, and flie away.

Sinne being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sinne take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

–George Herbert (1593-1633)

Posted in Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

“Though God is not there for him to see or hear, he calls on him still”

“MY GOD, MY GOD, why hast thou forsaken me?” As Christ speaks those words, he too is in the wilderness. He speaks them when all is lost. He speaks them when there is nothing even he can hear except for the croak of his own voice and when as far as even he can see there is no God to hear him. And in a way his words are a love song, the greatest love song of them all. In a way his words are the words we all of us must speak before we know what it means to love God as we are commanded to love him.

“My God, my God.” Though God is not there for him to see or hear, he calls on him still because he can do no other. Not even the cross, not even death, not even life, can destroy his love for God. Not even God can destroy his love for God because the love he loves God with is God’s love empowering him to love in return with all his heart even when his heart is all but broken.

–Frederick Buechner A Room Called Remember (HarperOne:New York, 1992 paperback ed. of 1984 original), Chapter 4

Posted in Christology, Holy Week

Music for Good Friday–St Pauls Cathedral Choir: God So Loved The World (John Stainer)

Listen to it all.

Posted in Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Jürgen Moltmann for Good Friday

“When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakenness. In Jesus he does not die the natural death of a finite being, but the violent death of the criminal on the cross, the death of complete abandonment by God. The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father. God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings. God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law. God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving. He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.”

–Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology (minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), p, 414

Posted in Christology, Holy Week

John Donne–Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature