“Friend, why are you here?”

“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Hail, Master!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you here?'” Matthew 26:47-50

In Scripture, Jesus asks a lot of questions. I read (via Google) that He asks about 87 questions, and most of the time He asks a question in response to a question.

But this question in the Gospel of Matthew has real stuck with me during this celebration of the Triduum. Friend, why are you here?

Jesus knows why Judas is there, He knows that Judas is the betrayer, He knows that Judas is betraying Him right at this second, but He still asks the question. I used to read it as a way of Christ giving Judas the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Judas isn’t here to betray Him…in the middle of the night…with all these men…who are armed.

But more and more the idea of mercy has been on my heart (many thanks to Pope Francis, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and the upcoming double canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday).

I believe that Jesus is asking Judas, I know what you are doing but why are you here? Judas, these men know who I am, I would willingly give myself up for them. Judas, do you need to be here? Couldn’t you have told them where I would be and then gone away?

I believe Jesus is asking this because there is still time for mercy. 

Even after the exchange of money, even after Judas leads the men to Christ, even after Judas addresses Him as “Master”, and even after he kisses him, there is still time for mercy.

The deed is done and Christ asks him, are you here to receive My mercy? There is still time.

Even after the guards grab hold of Me, even after they take Me away, even after the rest of My disciples leave Me, after the beating and the scourging, after the crucifixion, even after everything seems to be lost, there is still time for My Mercy.

“Let us … remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me.” Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!”Pope Francis’ Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013

 

Have a holy Good Friday!

Caitlin

 

How to Observe Holy Week

Holy Week is one of those times during the liturgical year that I struggle observing the most.

I don’t have a problem with the last days in Advent, because everything is already so Christmas-y already that I can’t help but be reminded of the day we’re looking forward to at the end.

But Lent is a different story. Perhaps it’s because it’s longer, or because it’s filled with more sacrifices, or maybe just because the spring season is so busy and filled with events all around that the end of it always sneaks up on me.

This year I want to observe Holy Week in the best way I can. So I’ve come up with a list of 5 things I’m going to do to try to observe Holy Week in the best ways I can. If you’re so inclined, feel free to join with me – or give me some suggestions on things I should have included!

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1. Read the Daily Readings

With work and growing a baby, I just know I won’t make it to Mass every day of Holy Week, as much as I’d like to. So this year I’m going to commit to reading the readings every day of Holy Week in preparation for Easter. If you have a subscription to Magnificat, they’re all set up there for you – if not, just click on over to the USCCB website each day and read to your heart’s content. You can also listen to it at work via iTunes or on their website here. If you’ve got a smartphone, download Laudete in your marketplace and the daily readings are the top link in the navigation pane! (Ahh, the age of the internet. Glorious, isn’t it?)

2. Go to Confession

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week always feels like the best Confession I have all year. Perhaps it’s because it’s a set time that I always go, but more than that I think it’s because Jesus’ suffering and death seem so much closer than during the rest of the year. I always try to go at least twice during Lent, and this is one of the times I make sure to get there. Celebrating Easter Sunday Mass feels extra-special with a squeaky-clean soul. 

3. Pray the Stations of the Cross

If you can squeeze it, try to pray the Stations of the Cross – either at your local parish or by yourself. I have vivid memories praying the Stations of the Cross every Friday afternoon during grade school, but after that they became harder to fit in my schedule. (Yes, I realize that was over 10 years ago…whoops.) But I do always try to pray them during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday. Most parishes should have a time on Good Friday where the Stations are prayer together as a community, sometimes in conjunction with a Good Friday Service. If your parish doesn’t have them, no worries! You can find lots of versions online to pray (again, thank you Internetz) – here’s one of my favorites. 

4. Add Some Sacrifices

During Holy Week, I like to pile on the Lenten sacrifices, especially if I’ve failed a few times during the season of Lent (which for me is inevitable). Okay, maybe I don’t pile them on, but I do like to sacrifice a couple of extra things during Holy Week. Sometimes that’s things I was considering giving up for the entirety of Lent, or perhaps it’s just adding some more daily prayer to my schedule. A couple of my favorites for Holy Week are: no TV/radio (or limited), giving up your pillow at night, no snooze button for the week, or praying a rosary every day. Anything works though – I like to think of it as the extra “adrenaline rush” I might need to be prepped for Easter.

5. Think about Holy Week

This seems kind of like a “duh, Hannah” sort of piece of advice – but I find that just reminding myself that it’s Holy Week helps me to remember and appreciate the last days of Lent. If you’re busy like me, maybe set an alarm on your phone that pops up every day of the week that just says “Holy Week!” on it. Or find some other way to remind yourself – put a sticky note on your desk (added bonus of evangelization, maybe?) or a note on your bathroom mirror. Doing all the above-mentioned things might help you to remember more than normal but a little help never hurts.

Hopefully this list helps me remember to observe Holy Week better this year than any other year…there’s always room for improvement, right? What am I missing on the list – how do you observe Holy Week? 

Prayers –

Hannah

“Heart of the World”

I’ve wanted to write a book review for awhile but for some reason I thought it was a bit of a creative cop out. Like, let me review in text something greater that someone already published in text?

But I am low on creative juices so here is my very first book review!

Heart of the World by Hans urs von Balthasar

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Rarely do I read a book multiple times, but I am currently enjoying this book (which, in all fairness, took me almost a year to get through the first time) for the third time. I am a voracious underliner in books and my copy is so marked up that a page does not go by without multiple sections underlined. 

If I had to pick a book that changed my world view, changed my way of thinking, or one that I would take with me on a desert island, it would be this one.

Father von Balthasar weaves a beautifully poetic and soul shaking text that dives deeply into the Heart of Christ. What does it mean that Christ, who is fully man and fully divine, had a human heart just like ours? Literally, it was made of same stuff as ours and emotionally it experienced the full spectrum of feelings and emotions. 

The chapters vary from the perspective of a speaker (like us, fully human) and Christ addressing us. It is remarkable to me that a Swiss theologian and priest who died in 1988 can write in such a way that is so reflective of my own heart. There are sections in this book that made me stop and wonder if Father von Balthasar can read my soul, even years after his death.

Of course, he can’t, but he can write in a way that addresses all of humanity, how we deeply and intimately Christ loves us, how if we believe that Christ died and rose for our salvation that it should affect every aspect of our lives.

I pulled some sections from the book that seemed especially appropriate for Lent. They, of course, do not do the book justice since von Balthasar’s sprawling chapters need to be read in context (in my opinion, one sitting) to really experience the beauty of the text.

“Into what hole can I crawl so that you will no longer see me, so that I will no longer be a burden to you and that the decay of my person may no longer importune you? I have sinned right to your face, and the mouth which touched your lips — your divine lips –a thousand times has kissed the lips of the world and said: ‘I do not know him'” (p.145)

“He seeks trust, intimacy: he is a beggar for your love” (p.121)

“But see: the weakness with which you weaken me can no longer be an obstacle. When I am weak, then I am strong. Let yourself be weakened by my weakness, my Bride, that the fruit of your body may grow within you, the child of our love. How much longer will you insist on my making up for your refusals by my suffering? How much longer will you shift the burden onto my shoulders, a burden, which, if bourne by both of us, would become the delight of the Kingdom of Heaven?” (p.82)

In a real and unapologetic way, von Balthasar reminds us of how we quarantine Christ to sections of our life, of our hearts. We let Him reign on Sundays, we let Him in when we have cleaned our homes, but we refuse to let Him see the messy parts, to enter into our lives when we feel that we have control.

Truly, I love this book. It combines Scripture, allegory, imaginative language, and alarmingly honest human thoughts that ultimately point back to the Heart of Christ which beats with love for us all.

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CRCM