A Great Silence and Stillness

jesus-dead-in-tombA solemn day, a silent day, for what words can adequately describe the sorrows of yesterday?

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

– from An Ancient Homily on Holy Saturday

Our Lady alone never lost hope, she who suffered most with Him.  She stood at the foot of the Cross and spiritually suffered and died with her Divine Son. She is the Queen of Martyrs.

Pieta with border

Let us keep watch with her as she waits in hope and prayer for His return.

One of our favorite chants for these days: Vexilla Regis.  The beautiful words and translation can be found here.

Captive

The chant below (see bottom of post) is the Benedictus antiphon from Tenebrae for Maundy Thursday.  I wanted to share it, not because of the chant itself, which is beautifully sung, but because the words really struck me when I saw them last night:  Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying:  Whom I shall kiss, that same is he; hold him fast.

Hold him fast.  There are different ways we can hold God.  When I hear these words I think of clinging to God, an act of faith, made out of desperation sometimes, but grasping Him firmly because He is your last and only hope.  We can hold God like a lover, like a life-preserver, like a friend.  But here we see another way to hold him, which has nothing to do with love or devotion: we can hold him fast like a hostage.  Our weak faith, our lack of trust in God, our obstinacy in getting our own way, all these tempt us to hold God prisoner.  If I can just get a good grip on Him, I’ll get him to see things my way.  But we can’t control God or bend Him to our will; it’s fruitless and destructive.

Rather than holding God captive there is a better way: we can let our souls be held captive by Him; to become captivated by His insatiable and enduring love for us – the Love that sustains all other loves, and which led Him to submit Himself to the grasp of sinners.

Tonight, after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, our Lord will go to the Mount of Olives to meet Judas, and each of us will accompany Him as His Passion begins.  He who holds all creation in the palm of His hand willingly gives Himself into the hands of wicked men.  As the deepest mysteries of our salvation begin to unfold, let us comfort and console Our Lord by giving ourselves over to Him completely, by letting Him hold us fast.