Zelophehad’s Daughters

Thoughts for Easter Weekend

Posted by Lynnette

“By these three days [the Triduum*] all the world is called to attention. Everything that is and ever was and ever will be, the macro and the micro, the galaxies beyond number and the microbes beyond notice—everything is mysteriously entangled with what happened, with what happens, in these days. This is the axis mundi, the center upon which the cosmos turns. In the derelict who cries from the cross is, or so Christians say, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

–Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon

(*The three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are traditionally referred to as the Triduum)

“But on this Good Friday we ought to consider of our own free will the terrors of life, so that we may stand fast when we must face the abyss and endure it. For we are all gathered round the cross of the crucified, whether we look up to him or try to look past him, whether we are at the moment quite happy and merry (this is not forbidden) or frightened to death.

We are standing under the cross, being ourselves delivered to death, imprisoned in guilt, disappointed, deficient in love, selfish and cowardly, suffering through ourselves, through others, through life itself, which we do not understand. Of course, if we are just quite comfortable we protest against such a pessimistic outlook which wants to take away our joy in life (which is quite untrue); when we are vigorous in body and soul we refuse to believe that this will not last forever. Yet we are always under the cross.

Would it not therefore be a good thing to look up to him whom they have pierced   . . . Surely we ought to have the courage to let our heart be seized by God’s grace and to accept the scandal and absurdity of our inescapable situation as ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God’ by looking up at the crucified and entering into the mystery of his death.”

–Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

“Thus I chose Jesus for my heaven, whom I saw only in pain at that time. No other heaven was pleasing to me than Jesus, who will be my bliss when I am there; and this has always been a comfort to me, that I chose Jesus as my heaven in all times of suffering and of sorrow. And that has taught me that I should always do so, and choose only him to be my heaven in well-being and woe. And so I saw my Lord Jesus languishing for long, because of the union in him of man and God, for love gave strength to his humanity to suffer more than all men could . . . But the love which made him suffer all this surpasses all his pains as far as heaven is above earth. For his pains were a deed, performed once through the motion of love; but his love was without beginning and is and ever will be without any end.”

–Julian of Norwich, Showings

“Where should I stay, if not before the cross, in which the incomprehensibility of human destiny becomes the revelation that God is truly love. I kneel before him. And I am silent. For what should I tell him, except what I am? And if I have never understood myself, what else can I do except surrender myself to him completely, to him whose love, loyal even to death, alone has understood me?”

–Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

“But today we have come to our senses. Today, here at the cross, our eyes are fixed on the dying derelict who is the Lord of life . . . Here , though the cross, we have come home, home to the truth about ourselves, home to the truth about what God has done about what we have done. And now we know, or begin to know, why this awful, awe-filled Friday is called good.”

–Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon

“Willingly he buries his luminous corporeity in our suffering and burdensome corporeity, so that on the Cross, and in the sudden radiant dawn of Easter, everything is bathed in light; not only the universe, but all human effort to transform it. That is why the body and blood of Christ are not just grapes and wheat, but bread and wine! In and around him, fallen matter ceases to enforce its necessary consequences and constraints, becoming once again a means of communion, a temple of celebration and meeting. In and around him, the world ‘frozen’ by our fallenness melts in the fire of the Spirit and recovers its original dynamism. In and around him, time and space are no longer divisive, but are transformed by a dimension of resurrection.”

–Olivier Clement, On Human Being

“And suddenly as I looked at the same cross, he changed to an appearance of joy. The change in his appearance changed mine, and I was as glad and joyful as I could possibly be. And then cheerfully our Lord suggested to my mind: Where is there any instant of your pain or of you grief? And I was very joyful.

Then our Lord put a question to me: Are you well satisfied that I suffered for you? Yes, good Lord, I said; all my thanks to you, good Lord, blessed may you be! If you are satisfied, our Lord said, I am satisfied. It is a joy and bliss and an endless delight to me that ever I suffered my Passion for you, for if I could suffer more, I would.”

–Julian of Norwich, Showings

“But grace is more than gifts. In grace something is overcome; grace occurs ‘in spite of’ something; grace occurs in spite of separation and estrangement. Grace is the reunion of life with life, the reconciliation of the self with itself. Grace is the acceptance of that which is rejected. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful destiny; it changes guilt into confidence and courage. There is something triumphant in the word ‘grace’: in spite of the abounding of sin grace abounds much more.”

–Paul Tillich, “You Are Accepted”

“Am I one with the crucified? My soul thirsts for God my savior. I want to rise up and I want to see him who has drunk the most bitter cup of the world. The most bitter, for in comparison what is the little bitterness we feel, we who are sinners and so indifferent to it all? I want to kiss his bloody feet, the feet that pursued me even into the most monstrous inextricability of my sins. I want to see the pierced side of him who has locked me in his heart and who therefore took me with him when he went home, passing over from this world through death to the Father, so that I, too, am now there where only God can be. I want to see the wood of the Cross, on which the salvation of the world, my salvation, hung. Come let us adore him.”

–Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

“Naked I hung on the Cross with arms outstretched, offering Myself freely to God the Father for your sins, My whole Person a sacrifice of divine propitiation: you, too, must willingly offer yourself daily to Me in the Eucharist with all your powers and affections as a pure and holy offering. I require nothing less of you that you should strive to yield yourself wholly to Me. Whatever you offer to Me besides yourself, I account as nothing; I seek not your gift, but yourself.”

–Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

“Every human life, conceived from eternity and destined to eternity, here finds its story truly told. In this killing that some call senseless we are brought to our senses. Here we find out who we most truly are, because here is the One who is what we are called to be. The derelict cries, ‘Come, follow me.’ Follow him there? We recoil. We close our ears. We hurry on to Easter. But we will not know what to do with Easter’s light if we shun the friendship of the darkness that is wisdom’s way to light.”

–Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon

“For Jesus has great joy in all the deeds which he has done for our salvation . . . What I am describing now is so great a joy to Jeuss that he counts as nothing his labour and his bitter sufferings and his cruel and shameful death. And in these word: If I could suffer more, I would suffer more, I saw truly that if he could die as often as once for every man who is to be saved, as he did once for all men, love would never let him rest till he had done it. And when he had done it, he would count it all as nothing for love, for everything seems only little to him in comparison with his love.”

–Julian of Norwich, Showings

“Over the centuries theologians have contrived wondrously refined theories of the atonement: Why is it that this One had to die, why is it that his dying is for us death’s door, why is it that his open tomb opens for every last child of earth the door to tomorrows without end. And all the theories of atonement are but probing into mystery, the mystery of a love that did not have to be but was, and is.”

–Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon

Metanoia, the complete turning round in a person’s heart of hearts, is not an attempt to achieve some superficial mental improvement by an effort of will, to overcome some fault or vice. It is first and foremost the utter trusting in Christ who gives himself up to death, hell and separation for us, for me; to the death which I have caused, to the hell which I create and in which I make others and myself live, to the separation which is my condition and my sin. By enduring them, he has made death, hell and torment the door of repentance and new life. Then we discover something we never dared hope for, that our hellish autonomy has been breached by sin, death, and despair, that these have opened us to the mercy of the living God. Then the heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh, the stone which sealed the fountain of life in our heart is shattered; then gush forth the tears of repentance and wonderment.”

–Olivier Clement, On Human Being

“He is the living one. He is the victor over sin and death. He is not one who has ascended into heaven in order to disappear from world history as if he had never been in it. He ascended to heaven after he had descended into the last depths of sin, death, and the lost world, and came out of this abyss, which contains everything, alive. More: there in the ultimate lostness, whence all viciousness springs and where all streams of tears have their origin and where the last source of all hatred and self-seeking abides—that is where he has won victory. He won not by shoving the world from himself and heaving it away, but by the fact that, losing himself, he forced his way into the innermost center whence its entire destiny springs forth, seized this center, and accepted it for eternity.”

–Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

“Our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of his familiar love. I saw that he is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing, for he is the love which wraps and enfolds us, embraces us and guides us, surrounds us for his love, which is so tender that he may never desert us. And so in this sight, I saw truly that he is everything which is good, as I understand.

And in this, he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and I perceived that it was round as any ball. I looked at it and thought: What can this be? And I was given the general answer: It is everything which is made. I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that it was so little that it could suddenly fall into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.”

–Julian of Norwich, Showings

“My consciousness that I love you, O Lord, is not doubtful but sure. You have smitten my heart with your Word, and I love you . . . There is a light that shines on my soul that no place can contain, a sound is uttered no time can take away, a fragrance cast that no breath of wind can disperse, a savour given forth that eating cannot blunt, and there clings to me that which cannot be torn away by satiety. This is what I love in loving my God.”

–Augustine, Confessions

“And the beholding of this, with all the pains that ever were or ever will be—and of all of this I understood Christ’s Passion for the greatest and surpassing pain—was shown to me in an instant, and quickly turned into consolation . . . He comforts readily and sweetly with his words, and says: But all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”

–Julian of Norwich, Showings

“Easter is not the celebration of a past event. The alleluia is not for what was; Easter proclaims a beginning which has already decided the remotest future.”

–Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

“Come, O Lord, I pray. Stir us up and call us back; kindle us and take us to yourself. Set us ablaze, and cast your sweetness over us. Let us love you and run to you.”

–Augustine, Confessions

7 Responses to “Thoughts for Easter Weekend”

  1. 1.

    Thanks for this compilation, Lynette. So many aspects to contemplate–I quite enjoyed it.

  2. 2.

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    Wait — Christians believe in Jesus too?

  3. 3.

    Thank you, Lynnette. You and Kristine have made my Easter this year.

  4. 4.

    What marvelous thoughts – thank you Lynette.

    I loved, loved, loved this one:

    “Easter is not the celebration of a past event. The alleluia is not for what was; Easter proclaims a beginning which has already decided the remotest future.”
    –Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year

  5. 5.

    Lynette,

    Thank you for sharing these meditative quotations. Here is another one from Rahner’s The Great Church Year that I like.

    “. . . there are non happy and unhappy persons, winners and losers, but only the vanquished: people who have been cast into that killingly silent unfathomability that renders us lonely in a thousand ways–poverty, illness, failure, cramped existence, frightful societal injustice. In Christian terminology we designate this unfathomableness with the hackneyed and pious-sounding word, cross. We cannot avoid the cross, it leaves its imprint on our lives until it gets conquered in death. . . But all this does not change the fact that we all are the ones headed toward death, which is conealed in the interstices of our lives in their solitariness and unfathomability. Yet our faith, when it looks upon the cross of Jesus, is challenged as to whether it will withstand this insight into the inescapable character of the cross. . . . The gaze of love rests on the crucified one and the Christian knows: I am embraced by the eternal love in the midst of my disappointments, my misery, my having been consecrated for death, my guilt. And the Christian knows: I am myself liberated by this love that encompasses me into the possibility of being able to love human beings and God.”

  6. 6.

    That’s great, Fideline! Thanks for adding it to the list. (And I’m so happy you got a copy of The Great Church Year.)

    (p.s. I made sure to include Julian’s hazelnut just for you and Melyngoch.)

    Thanks, Tea, Eve, and prometheus! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Th., it’s only a rumor. Mormons Who Know know better.

  7. 7.

    I love Julian’s hazelnut. That woman was rather fantastic.

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