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Easter he is risen

rachel2205 in catholicleft

A bitter Good Friday it is today, with rain lashing down from a leaden sky. The church was as cold as December through the hour and forty minutes of the service until at the very end the clouds broke and sunlight streamed through the emptying church - a sort of reversion, one would think, of the appropriate weather for Good Friday. Surely the sky should darken, the clouds roll in, as we exit in mourning for the crucified Christ? It seems a dark sort of Good Friday indeed, with the Vatican once again putting its foot in its mouth in a fairly spectacular fashion. There are so many dark clouds of late. And yet -

I have said a lot about this already this week, and once again T.S. Eliot does it better, anyway (though for a change I'm not quoting Ash Wednesday). He may have been an Anglican, but Eliot always seems able to turn to words the own fumblings of my own lazy Catholic heart. This strikes me today:

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away -
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Good Friday is a day to be tested, not to be comforted. I think of the disciples, the agony of despair they must have felt, seeing Christ crucified, the sun pulled down from heaven as the earth fell dark. If they could bear that, what should we not be able to bear? That our hearts can be broken is a sign that our hearts love, and Good Friday is a day of love stripped of its pretenses, of its grace, a day when love is blood and death and a hope that is closer to agony than comfort. O Man. O God.

Perhaps then it is fitting that the sun came out after the service today, as we turned away from the cross, the empty tabernacle. This is only one ending.

I want my church to shine. But I understand that everything, from our institutions to our innermost beings, are seen through a glass, darkly. Arms outstretched, listening for the Word, and its echoing liturgy, I make my way forward, in bright hope.