As St. Francis de Sales said, “Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers.”
“O Christ, Son of God, as I contemplate the great sufferings You endured for us on the Cross, I hear You saying to my soul: 'It is not in jest that I have loved you... I see that You suffered during Your life and death, O Man-God, suffered because of that profound, ineffable love.” —St. Angela of Foligno
When you wake up on Good Friday, what do you think will be the first thing on your mind? Dreading the wimpy fast (if you think I'm sounding harsh, just check out a copy of the Lives of the Desert Fathers) or wondering how you are going to fit the Good Friday service in with all of the other things seemingly more pressing things you need to do... Or perhaps, you will be among the fellowship of the devout and you will actually look forward to embracing the solemn, contemplative spirit of this day in remembrance of the Crucified One who died for you. Maybe, just maybe, that ember of love which a well-lived Lent has kindled in your soul will burn bright this year on Good Friday. Wouldn't that be just marvelous.
When it comes to living out the authentic meaning of Good Friday, we can glean pearls of wisdom from the Saints, whose intimate relationship with Christ Crucified raised them to the heights of sanctity. Graces were showered on them because they chose not to follow a “comfortable” version of Christ, but instead, the real Christ – Christ in utter helplessness as a baby, Christ the Suffering Servant, and finally, Christ the Crucified King.
If we could only spend some time in prayer this year on Good Friday – waiting with him in the garden, trekking with him along the Way of the Cross, and dying with him on Mt. Calvary – we would become immersed in his love. Dying to self would be made easy, and all those pinpricks that life has to offer would become our secret little stash of joy.
As expressed in the devotional, Divine Intimacy:
Good Friday is the day which invites us more than any other to 'enter into the thicket of the trials and pains... of the Son of God' (St. John of the Cross, the Spiritual Canticle), and not only with the abstract consideration of the mind, but also with the practical disposition of the will to accept sufferings voluntarily, in order to unite and assimilate ourselves to the Crucified. By suffering with Him, we shall understand His sufferings better and have a better comprehension of His love for us.
Importantly, the final object of contemplating the Passion of Christ is to grow in his love; to realize the luminous love he continually radiates onto each one of our souls, and to respond to this love wholeheartedly. As St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “The Cross is the school of love,” and St. Francis de Sales proclaimed, “Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers.” Meditating on his Passion should not cause us to become overcome by sorrow or guilt, or unbalanced in other ways in our spirituality. Instead, it should bring us to live in the light of the Resurrection – to testify in realistic ways to a victorious God of hope. Meditating on his sufferings and death should, ultimately, free us, and fill us with the grace we need to triumph over sin and discouragement. It is the key which can unlock a momentous power in our spiritual lives, and the very heart of the Lenten journey.
In Conversations with God, Fr. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal paints a beautiful picture of the Crucifixion:
The Lord is firmly nailed to the cross. He has waited for this moment for many years, and this day he is to fulfill his desire to redeem all men... what until now has been an instrument of infamy and dishonor, has been converted into the tree of life and the stairway of glory. A deep joy fills him as he extends his arms on the cross, for all those sinners who will approach him will now know that he will welcome them with open arms.
This being said, maybe each of us will wake up on Good Friday just as content as we will wake up on Easter Sunday (well, almost, if it weren't for Cadbury Eggs). We never know if this may be our last Triduum to live on earth – we only have today – let us live it well. Ave Crus, Spes Unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!
A Hymn from the 1962 Brevarium Romanum for Good Friday:
Thirty years among us dwelling
His appointed time fulfilled ,
Born for this, he meets his Passion,
For that this he freely willed:
On the Cross the Lamb is lifted,
Where his life-blood shall be spilled.
He endured the nails, the spitting,
Vinegar, and spear, and reed:
From the holy body broken
Blood and water forth proceed:
Earth, and stars, and sky and ocean,
By that flood from stain are freed.
Faithful cross! Above all other,
One and only noble Tree;
None in foliage, none in blossom
None in fruit thy peer may be:
Sweetest wood, and sweetest iron,
Sweetest weight is hung on Thee.
This article originally appeared at the Register on April 14, 2017.