The Sounds of Silence

A reflection for the Triduum

By Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

 

Each of these three days – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday –  brings us face to face with the intimacy of being with Jesus at his most vulnerable. Sometimes words diminish, and silence is the only appropriate response.

What if this year we don’t try to “keep up” with all the events of this sacred week?  Instead, we could allow the enormity of the experience to wash over us until we are led to the center of quiet within ourselves where we come face to face with Jesus.

What if we choose one of the silences of each day and let it envelop us?

On Thursday…

Perhaps the humbling silence that must have followed the foot washing… or the tense silence after Judas’ betrayal?

Maybe the awe that led to silence as Jesus gives himself in bread blessed, broken, and shared.

Arguably, most challenging of all, the silence in the garden after Jesus begged, “Watch with me while I pray.”

On Friday…

Let Jesus catch our eye as he is arrested, brought before the Sanhedrin, and is brought low by Peter’s denial. Stay with the gaze.

In the silence of accompanying Jesus on the way of the cross, we each ask, “what makes my heart tremble”?

As we stand with the women at the foot of the cross, and hear Jesus forgive those condemned with him, is our silence challenged or disturbed?

 On Saturday…

How can we console Jesus for what we do to one another?  Will the silence of these holy days lead us to action for justice for our sisters and brothers who Jesus calls us to accompany in his name?

These Holy Days

A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

wi0821bi_4c1[1]Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.

When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do.  Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.

When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.”  For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.

Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts.   Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?

How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?

As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.

Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar?  With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?

What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life?  What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?

What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?

The Transfiguration – A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

Excerpted from a Meditation by Larry Gillick, S.J., Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality

[Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15, 16-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10]

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent presents the Transfiguration, or the “the Changing of the Garb.”  Peter, James and John go up a hill with Jesus.  They have a most intimate encounter with Jesus, God the Beyond, and, of course, themselves.

Jesus dazzles his followers with some state of glorification. Moses, the man of the law, and Elijah, the man of prophesy, are seen conversing with Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and the “voice” again ordains him as “my beloved son.”  The terrified trio is encouraged also to “listen to him.”

Immediately after this experience, there they are, just the four again and nobody else, no other sounds.  They leave with this experience and their questions about what it was all about.  They are charged by Jesus not to speak about it until he had risen from the dead. They did not understand this, either, but they kept on walking back down from this hill of intimacy.

Peter, James and John experienced an unusual convention and communion.  They are “befuddled-beholders” and they go off into the routine down-the-hill living of their lives.

Their faith seems to be strengthened, but at the same time they experience bewilderment and must ask themselves about the “realness” of what has just happened.

Devotion, prayer, liturgy can be similar calls to simple and honest closeness.  Trying to figure out these experiences and explain them cheapens them and flattens them out into a practice rather than a delight. We go toward a time of being met by the Holy, given something of ourselves by the encouragement and comfort of God’s presence and then sent away, but always the little question, “Was that really real? Or was I talking to myself, comforting myself, judging myself?”

Intimacy with God does not lead to comprehending, but to sending, living, transfiguring, changing because we are so loved.  I wish to come away from every liturgy or times of personal prayer less able to explain why I live the way I do.  I wish to be a befuddlement  and, in a sense, be a transfigurational experience, not easily explained away.

Reflection:  Am I able to delight in the unexplainable mysteries and experiences of my faith? 

A Letter from Eastern Point

From Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

I am spending the month of July directing four people through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The Exercises were developed by St. Ignatius as an aid in helping people know, love and follow Jesus Christ in the midst of their active lives.  Through a series of prayer experiences—“exercises”—a retreatant is led to deeper intimacy with Jesus and discovers his or her call to labor with Christ in the world in order to further the kingdom of God.

Eastern Point is located on the ocean and the natural beauty that surrounds the house draws retreatants to a desire to know the Creator. On further reflection, they begin to realize how deep and unconditional God’s love is.

The Exercises then invite the retreatant to consider the quality of his/her response to this unconditional love. As the retreat progresses, the participants consider the gift of God’s son, Jesus, to the world, and they are invited to respond to Jesus’ invitations to friendship and His call to labor with Him in redeeming the world and restoring all of creation to His Father.

The focus then shifts to an invitation to be with Jesus in His passion and death and to consider the cost of discipleship.  Toward the end of the retreat, participants encounter the risen Christ, who is with us always, and contemplate God’s presence in all things.

Throughout this month, retreatants pray with selected passages from the Scriptures, asking God for graces necessary to live out this call to discipleship.  For more than 450 years, the Spiritual Exercises have been a source of inspiration, spiritual strength and a deep, abiding friendship with Jesus Christ.

A number of those doing the Exercises this summer are men and women preparing for final vows in their respective religious communities. There are also a significant number of lay people who desire this friendship with Jesus as they continue to live out their vocations in the world.

P.S.  The Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is July 31.