Columnists > For one day we are asked to stand still and do nothing but contemplate the unbearable

17 March 2016 | by Carmody Grey

For one day we are asked to stand still and do nothing but contemplate the unbearable


I dread Good Friday. No one else seems to. Everyone I know seems to get through it without letting it ruin the weeks running up to it. But for me, when Lent begins, an anticipatory gloom settles over me. I find myself trying to avoid the observance of Lent itself, because I do not want to admit what is inevitably coming, at the end.

Of course, I know that what happens on Good Friday is, in a certain way, the focus of the whole liturgical year. Jean Vanier often remarks that in modern life we do not any more know how to respond to inexplicable and irresolvable pain. We just turn away from it. On Good Friday we are invited to live without denial, at least for a day. For one day we are asked to stand still and do nothing but contemplate the unbearable.

But somehow, when the moment comes, all that pious sentiment seems theoretical and remote. I sit reluctantly at the altar of repose the night before, fidgeting miserably and wishing it would all go away. I just do not know how to bear it: standing still for two hours with nothing to think about but the torture of a human body.


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User Comments (2)

Comment by: Speighdd
Posted: 20/03/2016 21:39:18
Carmody Grey makes a valiant effort not to go to the opposite extreme to wallowing in the grisly details of Jesus Christ’s suffering, and wanting to sideline that suffering altogether, but her and her rabbi’s regret at the prominence given by the Catholic Church to Christ’s crucifixion both ceremonially and in physical imagery, is misplaced. As Carmody Grey herself acknowledges, the passion and the resurrection are inseparable, but the contrast between the two, also highlights the extent, on the one hand, of Christ’s, and our own, risen glory, and on the other hand, of the cost that we might have to pay for it along with Jesus Christ. It is a way of reminding us constantly to be ready to suffer for Christ’s sake, in order not to be taken by surprise by the possible severity of such suffering. Forewarned is forearmed! At the same time, while this world will have cost Christ and ourselves “no less than everything”, God will have given both Him and ourselves no less than everything back.
Comment by: anna
Posted: 20/03/2016 16:19:26
Carmody, I found your thoughts very challenging and reflective, thank you. Anna

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