Arts & Faith: Lent—Good Friday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

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As we move from Lent to Easter, we’ll provide Ignatian prayers for the Triduum, inspired by videos from Arts & Faith: Lent. The video and prayer for Good Friday are based on John 18:1—19:42. The art is Andrea Mantegna’s The Dead Christ (Lamentation of Christ).

Preparation

Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your mind and wait off to the side for now.

Grief

You find yourself outdoors, on a hill. It’s windy and overcast, and you hear wailing and weeping around you. Then you see, coming toward you, a strange procession. A small group of men carry something large between them. Right beside them walk several women, and they’re the ones whose grieving you hear. As the group comes closer, you see that the men carry the body of an adult male.

Then the realization hits: this is Jesus, just moments before removed from his place of execution. The body looks awkward in its position, and it’s barely recognizable because of the blood, bruises, and lacerations. The face holds an expression of exhaustion and peace. You can see from that peace that it is indeed Jesus, but you beg, praying within yourself, that the eyes open. Without that gaze of wisdom and compassion, it doesn’t seem like Jesus at all. You sense a huge absence opening up, engulfing the world. Even with the wind and the weeping, a deathly silence moves in from all directions.

You go with the group to a tomb, which is owned by someone else, who has offered it to Jesus’ family. You stand by as the women hurriedly wash from the body as much of the blood and grime as they can and then wrap it in cloths. Soon, the people here will scatter to their homes for the duration of the Sabbath. The body will lie alone and still until the women can return and finish preparing Jesus for proper burial, with ointments and better linens.

For just a few moments, after the others leave, you remain in the tomb. There’s still some daylight coming in the entrance—the sun has not yet set—and now grief rises in your heart as you gaze at a body where once there was a living, loving person.

You think of all the promises he made and of the future you and others had imagined was right around the corner. You remember Jesus’ descriptions of God’s Kingdom and his assurance that it had already begun. But now. . .where is this kingdom? Nothing has begun, but everything important to you has ended. The story was not supposed to go this direction—was it?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video Arts & Faith: Good Friday.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 176 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

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