Strange, isn’t it, that on this seemingly sorrowful day pain and joy meet. And this is the cross - the cross that everybody is running away from - and I include everybody! We don’t want it - we like the cross on a table - we like the cross on a wall - we don’t mind it in a church - but when we say to ourselves, “Ah, he loved me unto total emptiness, even unto hanging naked on the cross, I must do likewise” and we turn the cross around so that we know that this is the place where we should go - we break it apart! We think of something else, and yet we miss the whole thing!
Did you ever stop to think of the love with which God loves? There is a fantastic joy. Did you ever think of a saint who is not full of joy? Is there a sad saint? Well, he ain’t a saint; he is a sad sack! You just don’t think of a saint as sad. It is impossible! How can a person who practically sees God with the eyes of faith so closely be sad? How is it possible?
Good Friday is the meeting place of the Lord’s joy. Do you know why he was joyous also? He fulfilled his Father’s will! Now we go around saying that we want to fulfill God’s will because we are all ready to be emptied, but the way we say it is like this - like a little girl here in Madonna House - she said, “The Holy Spirit told me not to go to the laundry today.” “Oh,” said I, “what did he tell you to do?” She said, “He told me to sit outside and read a book!” I said, “Good! Why don’t you take that book home with you, pack your bags and go!” Uh-uh! that is not the Holy Spirit, that is telling her stuff! It is somebody else!
The will of God I know through somebody else. Very rarely, unless you are great prophets and what have you, do you personally know. And even if you do, be sure to check with your spiritual director. At all times, obedience is poverty! People want to run around doing anything - my thing! You want to love as Christ loves - do the other people’s thing! That will help you. Forget all about your thing.
God surrendered to his Father’s will unto the cross, because of love of the Father and us. What about us? Are we going to allow today the joy of beholding his total love for us, bring ourselves to the surrender which he did for us, to obey his Father’s will? For I am a sister of Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way to the Father.” Kenosis, surrender, emptying of self, is part of the Way of Jesus Christ.
Today is a strange day.. Quite strange! A day when joy meets pain, and pain begets joy. And if we enter into the heart of that hurricane, because it is a hurricane of pain and of joy, we shall be empty too.
This is the hour... this is the day ... in which God who doesn’t speak much, but in his silence and in his agony, says, “Love me as much as I love you!” It is a solemn day. It is a day in which we can descend into the well of our heart and find out how much we love him who loved us so much.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Spiritual Reading, Good Friday, 1974
Reflection – This is the last of the Good Friday spiritual reading from Catherine, and my last blog post for a little while—I will keep the Triduum as days of silence and recollection (at least as far as social media go), and then enjoy a few days off from blogging over the Easter octave. Probably back mid-week, next week.
At any rate, this is vintage Catherine—some have argued that the early and mid 1970s were really the apex of her spiritual reflection. Her story of the young girl deciding the Holy Spirit wanted her to read a book on the lawn rather than go to the laundry is a favorite of hers. God’s will coming to us through the duty of the moment as revealed by other people and (in the case of a community like MH) obedience to one’s superiors is a basic doctrine of hers.
But it’s always about Christ, always about love, always about this intense personal awareness and desire to be one with the One who gave everything to be one with us. And that this is joy, true joy, everlasting joy. To so utterly surrender one’s own will as to have no care for anything but that Love be loved, that God be served, that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven.