Now is not the time to write, rather to weep. Jesus is dead to give us life. All creatures are mourning. The sun is darkened. The earth quakes. The rocks are rent. The veil of the temple is torn. Only my heart remains harder than flint. I will say no more. Join the poor mother of the dead Jesus as her companion. Ask the dear Magdalene and John where their hearts are. Let the sea of their pains flood within you. I end at the foot of the Cross.
Saint Paul of the Cross
Baptized in his death
Rise we do to life
But we travel long
Through a world of strife
If you cannot meditate on the Passion of Jesus, speak about it to him: “Lord so loving, what was within your heart in the garden? Such pain, such blood, such bitter agony! And all for me?” At times, it will seem you can neither meditate nor remain lovingly attentive before God. You are like a statue. Do not worry! Continue to pray. Stir up your faith in God’s presence and go into him, lamenting like Saint Augustine: “O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new, I sought you outside and I had you within.” We have a treasure within.
Saint Paul of the Cross
Today in the Mass readings for the Latin Rite, we hear Jesus tell his disciples: “I have said this to you, so that in me you have have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage: I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33).
The Paschal context of this statement of Jesus’ lends itself to much depth and, consequently, many complementary (and not contradictory) understandings.
Christ was going to his death: He knows these persecutions, darknesses, and hardships.
Christ mentioned “the world”: He knows this ambivalent reality, with its good and its bad; and in all of it, he has conquered.
Christ mentioned that the Father was always with him: He is always in communion with his Father and their Spirit, and the Holy Three are always waiting to be in communion with us.
Christ was instituting the Eucharist: He is present in the sacrament of the altar, and he wills to make us (all of us) his Body.
In all this, Christ’s itinerary was Paschal: He begins with the world’s sadnesses and converts them, by some divine alchemy, into something good, something joyful, something full of more hope than we ever imagined before the trouble, danger, and unbearable darkness came. Courage and confidence in God are not ill placed. They are placed exactly where they can never fail.