Praying our way through the Paschal mystery

In the Spiritual Exercises, the grace of the Third Week is ‘sorrow with Christ in sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering because of the great suffering which Christ endured for me.’ [203]

The invitation is to be with Christ in his pain: To stay awake and pay attention to the tremendous suffering. In the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises we explore the idea of being a companion of Jesus. Following him as he goes about his public ministry, and talking to him on the way. Here in the Third Week, we enter into a new kind of companionship. Companionship when the chips are down.

All too often we can trip over ourselves and miss an important aspect of the Passion. If we focus too much on beating our own breasts because we have been so sinful, we fail to pay attention to Jesus in his suffering. The point is to be with him, to accompany him in these dark days. To feel the sense of loss at his death, precisely because we have lost a precious companion.

But the death of Jesus is followed by his resurrection. The grace of the Fourth Week is to experience joy with Christ in joy. That resurrection joy is the joy of redemption and transformation. It is inextricably linked to the pain of the Passion.

A spiritual director of mine once said, we can cry our way through the Passion because we have all known pain, but we cannot create the resurrection joy for ourselves. In other words we can fake the emotions of the Passion, but we cannot fake the joy of redemption.

The invitation then, is to be with Jesus through the mystery of Easter. To pray for the grace to be present to whole movement from Holy Thursday through to Easter Sunday. In the Roman Catholic church, the Easter Triduum is a single liturgy with three parts – starting with the commemoration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, through the reading of the Passion on Good Friday culminating in the celebration of the Easter Vigil. There is an entrance hymn for Holy Thursday and recessional for the Vigil, but no entrance and exit music in between to show this linking of services.

Be present this Easter to the movements as they happen. Notice where you are, pay attention to what the disciples would have been doing, and follow Jesus. Dare to engage with Passion and to encounter the possibility of redemption.

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