Lamentation: The Weight of Grief

Niccolò dell’Arca’s Mourning over the Dead Christ, often simply called Lamentation, moves us into the depths of Good Friday’s grief. (See a video of this piece of art below the article.) There is no way to prepare for the visceral images of six life-sized terracotta sculptures mourning over Christ’s body. The grief is palpable as viewers find themselves nearly frightened of the masterpiece. This grief is not quiet. The first figure we encounter is Joseph […]

Can I Really Drink This Cup?

In the Anima Christi prayer, we pray, “Blood of Christ, inebriate me.” I ask to be made drunk with God’s love. Can I really drink this cup? What does the cup mean to me? To answer these questions, I visit in my imagination with the mother of Zebedee’s children (Matthew 27:55–56). She tells me: What mother would wish crucifixion for her sons? While my sons were hidden, I dared climb the hill with many other […]

Praying on Holy Saturday

After the powerful days of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, knowing how to pray on Holy Saturday can feel a bit uncertain. Easter has not yet arrived, and yet the intensity of praying with the Passion has passed. Although surely there are practical things to do in order to get ready for Easter—clothes to press, a meal to prepare—skipping over Holy Saturday never feels quite right to me. At the same time, how to proceed […]

Light out of Darkness

This post is based on Week Seven of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. In Jerusalem, a short walk from the Garden of Gethsemane, is the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (“at cock crow”). It is built above the remains of an ancient structure that many believe to have been the palace of the High Priest Caiaphas. Archaeologists have uncovered subterranean levels including storehouses, pillars that appear to have been used for scourging, observation posts for […]

Triduum Poems

Sunsong (Gethsemane prayer, Holy Thursday) sunlight pours upon the field in early autumn. wheat grows thin, nourishing the wind. soft-spoken daffodils wait for the tide, sheltered only by a song. now shall my song be lifted. poems of dawn born on spirit’s breath tremble in the darkness. winter-cold night lies deep upon us. petals torn, my heart has been rent from me. yet I will trust a little longer, clinging to this song, that you […]

Praying Through Suffering

In his book, The Ignatian Adventure, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, writes: In the third week of the Exercises, Ignatius invites us to consider how Jesus’ divinity ‘hides itself’ (SE 196). We must not easily explain away the suffering we encounter. Jesus is not merely playacting his way through a passion play. We must take Jesus’ humanity seriously enough to realize just how much he loves us. (227) In what moment is Jesus’ divinity more hidden than […]

Cooking the Passover Meal for Jesus

“Who’s doing the haroset? These apples should’ve been chopped by now!” “Judith, where’s the rest of the matzah?” The tantalizing aroma of perfectly prepared lamb fills the crowded room. Noisy conversation buzzes all around. To paraphrase the youngest child, this night is different from every other Passover I’ve ever prepared. I’m standing in the doorway of the upper room, watching Jesus. It’s difficult to pay attention, because I’m so distracted. I wish I had another […]

Were You There?

To help us when contemplating the Passion of Christ, St. Ignatius Loyola “invites us to enter into this scene imaginatively, to place ourselves in the context of this story and ask the question, not only Were you there?, but Where are you there? Where do you find yourself in the story this year?” Michael Sparough, SJ, asks these questions in a prayerful seven-minute video reflection on the Passion. We are encouraged to think about whether […]

Who Is This Jesus of Nazareth?

Brian Prugh reflects on Titian’s Ecce Homo (“Behold, the man”) in a Dappled Things post that gives much to contemplate this Holy Week. The painting depicts Pilate showing Christ to the crowd. This is his public display, and our chance to confront the question, who is this Jesus of Nazareth? The soldiers have done their best to humiliate him with the crown of thorns, purple sheet and broken-stick scepter. His beard is unkempt, his gaze […]

How to Do Holy Week

Holy Week is a solemn week of extra prayer and fasting. It involves the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. During those three days we recall—and through our prayer participate in—Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, his arrest, trial, and execution, the long day of silence (Holy Saturday) while his body rested in the grave, and his Resurrection on Easter. The many readings of Scripture surrounding the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of […]

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