Apr 7 to Apr 13: Jesus . . . XII. Dies on Cross; XIII. Taken From Cross; XIV. Laid in Grave

ReadingWalk With Jesus, Chapter XII, XIII, XIV (pages 73-90)

Thanks to each of you for another week of insightful, compassionate, and supportive discussion.  It is clear that Sr. Helen David’s paintings and Henri’s meditations have struck a chord that is resonating beautifully within our small Spirit-filled community.

We are nearing the end of our Lenten journey together. This week we confront Jesus’ death on the cross (XII) and its immediate aftermath as his body is taken from the cross (XIII) and is laid in the tomb (XIV). From a worldly perspective, this looks like the end of the story of Jesus of Nazareth.  But we know better. As we focus on Jesus’ death on Good Friday and the solitude of the grave on Holy Saturday this week, we also await Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday (XV) that we will consider in our final week.

Sr. Helen David’s painting for the twelfth station is unlike any of the others because it is so impersonal. Rather than drawing our attention to an individual or group, she shows us the “powers” or the “forces” of death that run rampant in our modern world. In his meditation, Henri reminds us that those same powers of death crushed Jesus too and he died. However, by his death (and the resurrection that follows), he removed death’s sting and gave us the power to participate in eternal life where death can no longer reach.  Henri writes, “The great challenge of the Christian life is to say ‘Yes’ to life even in the smallest and, seemingly, unimportant details. Every moment there is a choice to be made: the choice for or against life.” As you reflect on this station, you might consider how you make those choices in your life.

In the thirteenth station we are asked to consider the intimate union between love and sorrow, especially when faced with senseless and horrific death at the hands of evil forces in the world.  Mary the mother of Jesus experienced this at the foot of the cross as did those in El Salvador mourning at the graves of the four murdered churchwomen. Looking at both Mary and the churchwomen Henri writes, “There is never love without sorrow, commitment without pain, never involvement without loss, never giving without suffering, never a ‘Yes’ to life without many deaths to die.”  Using Sr. Helen David’s painting as inspiration, reflect on situations in your life where you have met suffering and brokenness  with the love of Jesus; what was the outcome?

Finally, Sr. Helen David and Henri bring us to the silence and solitude of the grave.  Although it appears to be the end, it is not. As Henri writes about the young widow, “She understands something that the powers of death cannot understand. There are a trust and confidence in her that are vastly more powerful than the weapons that killed her husband.” The young widow knows in her heart that Holy Saturday is followed by Easter Sunday. So do we. Looking back on your life, are there times you have rested with Jesus in silence and solitude in the face of difficult circumstances?

As always, you are invited to share what is on your heart to the extent you are comfortable. We look forward to an other week of rewarding reflections. Thanks to all of you that have joined us this Lent, those who are actively commenting and those reading and reflecting in silence.  You are all welcome here.

May you have a blessed week.
Ray

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31 Responses to Apr 7 to Apr 13: Jesus . . . XII. Dies on Cross; XIII. Taken From Cross; XIV. Laid in Grave

  1. Patrice Donnelly says:

    It was interesting that Henri reflected on the “forces of death” which are the dark forces, the forces of destruction. Yet even though the message of Christ is hope, the dark forces cannot be ignored. The brutality of the event of crucifixion cannot be glossed over even with the knowledge that Christ rises. Christ knew fear, overwhelming pain and sadness, yet he forgave, setting free those who live in fear of death, even his persecutors. That is a gift of generosity beyond what anyone can expect but for which we are grateful. A light in the darkness. However, grief was what overtook everyone as they took his body from the cross. Just as the community of Salvadorians felt when finding the bodies of the sisters who had cared for them, so did the community of followers of Jesus. It is an important analogy. When we lose a loved one who is key in our community, the grief is for the person and for the community, unless people can bond in their time of common sorrow and rebuild their community. Standing in solitude was an important part of the community that would later rebuild. They saw one another but their grief must have been intensely individual as well. It is a new way for me to think of Holy Saturday. Stand in solitude, quietly, reverently, even and consider the immensity of unknowing that must have occurred at the time, just quiet.

  2. Chris Hoffman says:

    On Page 89 in Chapter 14 we read words like silence, rest, hope, and fruitfulness. And we see that these gifts are available in the midst of calamity. Henri Nouwen tells us:

    “Even though we are surrounded by the racket of our world’s preoccupations, we can rest in God’s silence and solitude and let it bear fruit in us. It is a rest that has nothing to do with not being busy. The rest of God is a deep rest of the heart that can endure even as we are surrounded by the forces of death.”

    It seems as though we can walk through the preoccupations of this world’s calamity and be marked by it or allow a rest to permeate our heart which produces life in the midst of the turmoil. In Henri Nouwen’s book “You are the Beloved” from the reading for April 19th we are encouraged with these words:

    “The prayer of the heart is indeed the way to the purity of heart that gives us eyes to see the reality of our existence. This purity of heart allows us to see more clearly, not only our own needy, distorted, and anxious self but also the caring face of our compassionate God. When that vision remains clear and sharp, it will be possible to move into the midst of a tumultuous world with a heart at rest. It is this restful heart that will attract those who are groping to find their way through life. When we have found our rest in God we can do nothing other than minister. God’s rest will be visible wherever we go and to whomever we meet. And before we speak any words, the Spirit of God, praying in us, will make his presence known and gather people into a new body, the body of Christ himself.”

  3. Ernie Rivard says:

    Dear brothers and sisters,
    First of all, thank you to so many who have kindly expressed concern for my grandson and sent along your hopeful encouragement and prayer. Yes, I have been following our readings and your comments these past few weeks. All of that and my prayerful reflection on them have been a wonderful boost to me during some challenging weeks. Due to several trips up to Maine to assist my daughter I just haven’t had the time or energy to make my own comments. There were trips to 3 hospitals in Maine … Belfast, Bangor and Portland.

    However, two nights ago by way of Skype my wife and I witnessed little Luke managing to sit up on his own for the first time in a month. We are thrilled! Please keep praying! Luke’s ability to walk on his own has not yet returned. However, over the last few weeks we’ve seen some gradual improvements over several days. Going from listlessness to brighter eyes, smiles and more interest in what he sees. He can now raise his arms above his shoulders. So we continue to hope that his problems were just a strong reaction to vaccines and will wear off soon. To make sure he does not have the mitochondrial disease that my son has, Luke’s blood has been sent to a specialized lab in California for analysis. The tests will take another 4 weeks to culture before results come in, so more anxious weeks for Luke’s parents. Again, thank you all for your prayer. We pray he will be able to walk again soon.

    As I referred to earlier, our little book, “Walk With Jesus,” has been a real gift to me this Lent! This past week I was especially moved by Sr. Helen’s illustration and Henri’s reflection on the four martyred churchwomen of El Salvador and what Henri points out that a few of you have already mentioned: “There is never love without sorrow,” is a brilliant insight. For truly deep love comes to know the pain of others and yet continues to hold the other (as Mary held the body of her son) and have the courage to live in hope. My daughter is coming to know this love now.

    In the fall of 2014 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the murder of several Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador in 1989, I and my pastor had the honor of accompanying a congressional delegation to that country. We were going to stand in solidarity with the people of that torn nation, to offer support, and to honor all who have given their lives in trying to bring hope and renewal there. There were special conferences, marches and memorial services in San Salvador and I had the opportunity to visit the tomb and residence of Archbishop (now Saint) Romero. It was heartbreaking, humbling and inspiring. Particularly inspiring to me were the Salvadoran people so many of whom still courageously choose to live in hope.

    The pastor and I stayed a few extra days beyond the four days of the delegation and we traveled to the town of La Libertad on the Pacific coast to stay at a parish there. Fr. Paul Schindler, a priest of the diocese of Cleveland, was pastor there and had decades ago made a commitment to serve the people of that area, some fifty thousand people. I point this out because of Henri’s reflection on Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel. Fr. Paul had known them and worked with some of them. One day during our visit he shared that he was the priest called the day the shallow grave of these women was found. All these years later I could hear the deep sorrow in his voice as he told the story. He took a few of his workers to the hidden sight and they dug them up. They had been dumped in the pit one on top of the other and Fr. Paul could still recall by name the order in which they were uncovered. I could also hear the deep love and reverence for those holy women in his voice and how he treated them with such dignity. His experience of such horror has not led him to bitterness but to continued witness to the power of love and faith. I am in awe.

    St. Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775), an 18th century mystic who spent his life meditating upon the Cross and announcing the memory of the Passion, once wrote, “God’s love is ingenious!” as he contemplated that Cross. Who would think of transforming an instrument of torture and death into a means of eternal life for all! God’s love does and because of that profound love we have all hope and all love. The Cross becomes an expression of the depth of God’s love for all of us. As I contemplate our journey through Lent with Sr. Helen and Henri this year, I too must indeed say that God’s love is ingenious! I look forward to celebrating God’s extravagant love in the week ahead which we call HOLY. We are truly blessed and I pray that that ingenious love bless each of you.

    • Chris Hoffman says:

      Thank you Ernie for sharing your trials and triumphs. My prayers remain with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your experiences in El Salvador. It is amazing to see hope arise when we can allow despair to filter our perspectives.

    • Marge says:

      “And so the smile of God and the smile of a God’s people reach each other and become one in the undying light that shines in the darkness.” (95) Thank you!

  4. Liz Forest says:

    STATIONS OF THE CROSS – Pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa as they observe and pray where Jesus walked along Calvary Road to the cross. You or I may not get to the Holy Land to walk this way but here is a video I watched that allows me to pray with pilgrims. The church of the Holy Sepulcher still stands; built by Constantine.
    Take a look https://youtu.be/waaMOBJ5e1Q

  5. Christine says:

    The painting that precedes station XIII haunts me. How callus and hateful the men were who discarded the tortured and murdered bodies of those four young women. I felt sickened at the thought of how those four young lives were so brutally cut short.

    After reading this chapter, I thought of Oscar Romero, also murdered in El Salvador.
    I reread some of his homilies, portions of which have been preserved in the book, “The Violence of Love.” (With a preface written by Henri Nouwen). I related these words spoken by the Archbishop on June 7, 1977 to the actions of the four young church women: “We must learn this invitation of Christ: ‘Those who wish to come after me must renounce themselves’ Let them renounce themselves, renounce their comforts, renounce their personal opinions and follow only the mind of Christ, which can lead us to death but will surely lead resurrection.”

    Somehow these helped me better understand Henri’s ideas in this chapter about love and sorrow being intimately related.

    • Marge says:

      This helps me too, Christine, and is enabling me to move into divine rest that Nouwen speaks of, station XIV…..”The rest of God is a deep rest of the heart that can endure even as we are surrounded by the forces of death….an invisible existence will become fruitful even though we cannot say how and when.” Offers hope..thank you.

  6. Chris Hoffman says:

    Henri Nouwen causes us to pause and consider our love for God. Like Peter God beckons us with the question do you love me? And if we say we do we are called into places we cherish and one’s we don’t. God’s love for us and our love for him is not conditional upon circumstances. On page 83 in Chapter XIII we read:

    “A life of a Christian is a life of love for Jesus. ‘Do you love me?’ This is the question he asks three times. And when we say, ‘Yes Lord you know I love you,’ he says: ‘You will be taken where you would rather not go (see John 21:15-18).

    Henri expounds on this love and where it takes us in his book “You are the Beloved” in the daily reading for June 7th. He show us that our joy does not come from circumstances but flows from our communion with God, from our love for God and his love for us. We read:

    “The joy that Jesus offers his disciples is his own joy, which flows from his intimate communion with the One who sent him. It is a joy that does not separate happy days from sad days, successful moments from moments of failure, experiences of honor from experiences of dishonor, passion from resurrection. This joy is a divine gift that does not leave us during times of illness, poverty, oppression, or persecution. It is present even when the world laughs or tortures, robs or maims fights or kills. It is truly ecstatic, always moving us away from the house of fear into the house of love, and always proclaiming that death no longer has the final say, though it’s noise remains loud and it’s devastation visible. The joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated.”

    • Patricia Hesse says:

      Oswald Chambers wrote a popular devotion book titled, “My Utmost for His Highest.” I remembered reading his thoughts on the question the Savior asked three times, “Do you love me?” and found they hit me with full force. I am including them here:

      “Peter’s response to this piercing question is considerably different from the bold defiance he exhibited only a few days before when he declared, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35; also see Matthew 26:33-34). Our natural individuality, or our natural self, boldly speaks out and declares its feelings. But the true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ. Peter loved Jesus in the way any natural man loves a good person. Yet that is nothing but emotional love. It may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person. True love never simply declares itself. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men [that is, confesses his love by everything he does, not merely by his words], him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).

  7. Liz Forest says:

    STATION XIV JESUS IS LAID TO REST
    What struck me was the text describing how the solitude of the living and the solitude of the dead meet and greet at graveside. Alone are the ones buried and silent solitude envelops the remaining family. After the casket is lowered into the ground, mourners leave the grave and carry their loss in their hearts.
    I’ve been to many burials, some sadder than others. Words are said, prayers are prayed, and then those left living go to lunch. What was so different about Jesus burial? His grave was donated; his mourners were women with spices; his tomb was boulder blocked and guarded. Who will be present at Jesus’ rising? His followers? No.
    His mother? No. Two dumb struck, shocked to the bones guards.

    In the quiet of early morning Jesus bursts forth with new life. The women who took note of the tomb were not afraid to approach. They were observant and supplied reliable information. The quiet solitude of the grave is broken by the words: He is not here; he is risen.”
    The fruit of Jesus’ silence is new life. As Henri urges me, “I want to live on with peace and joy amidst this painful world, unresolved conflicts yet rich in confidence and trust in God’s great love.” (p.89)

  8. Marge says:

    The word, BEHOLD in the scriptures often gets my attention…it’s as if God is revealing a new thought, and then follows with provision that enables me to live in a new way.

    The beauty of choice comes clearer to me as I read Henri’s thoughts on p. 76… like Chris, I too, embrace “Every moment there is a choice to be made…” then the questions that follow become my own questions especially, “Do I choose to think about a person in a forgiving or in an accusing way? AND “Do I choose to reach out or to hold back?”

    A couple of days back Philippians 4:8 came into view….”Finally….whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

    From there I sensed direction from our most Holy Spirit as a phrase from a song text by Mary S. Edgar came to mind…begins with the words: “God Who touches earth with beauty….” follows with these words in another verse, “Like the arching of the heavens, lift my thoughts above. Turn my dreams to noble action, ministries of love.”

    Somehow the verse and song phrase helps me with the 2 questions that seem to penetrate my heart…certainly, through Jesus’ suffering and death, God touched earth and touches my heart with beauty as I read, “To love truly is to be willing to embrace sorrow.” p. 82 AND “There is never love without sorrow, never commitment without pain, never involvement without loss, never giving without suffering, never a “Yes” to life without many deaths to die.” Sorrow “as the mantle of God’s love” p. 83 enabled me to move from wanting Jesus off the cross, avoiding pain and sorrow, to reaching out and touching the crucifix that a devout Christian friend filled the rooms of her home with, and recognize the beauty of LOVE, the kind of love that never fails….Behold…

    By the way, I’ve been wondering about Ernie…are you still with us…continued praying for your daughter, grandchild……

    • Liz Forest says:

      Marge,
      You reminded me of “Ecce Homo” Behold the Man said by Pontius Pilate in the Vulgate translation of John 19:5 when he presents a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd. Many have heard some version of the story of the young Count Zinzendorf committing his life to the service of Christ after seeing the painting Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”) by Domenico Feti; but few have seen the actual painting! Domenica Feti (1589 – 1623) was a prolific and talented Italian painter.
      See it here: http://www.zinzendorf.com/pages/index.php?id=ecce-homo

      From the cross Jesus said, “Behold, your son” making Mary the mother of John and of all the disciples destined to receive the gift of divine grace. To John, “Behold your mother,” John 19,25-27

      Though the dictionary lists this word as archaic, I think its meaning still applies: to observe; to gaze upon; to call attention to.

      • Marge says:

        What a blessing! I was not familiar with “Ecco Homo” but I am familiar with some of Frances Havergal’s hymn texts….it seems, as we are discovering in the mesh of art/writings of Sr. Helen David/Nouwen, faith and gift of artists truly begets inspiration of other artists, whatever their particular genre. And lest we feel excluded from such artistic endeavors, I’m reminded of a quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach..”Artists of the everyday excel in elevating the simple to the level of the sacred.” Thank you!

      • Patricia Hesse says:

        Thank you for sharing the link to “Ecce Homo,” Liz. Each year at this time I listen to “The Passion of the Christ Oratorio.” It was first performed at St. Peter’s Square with a full orchestra, full concert choir, and talented soloists. I get lost in the music and prefer it to the beautiful soundtrack from the movie. The video is not clear, but the music is full of pain and sorrow –it is magnificent. There are several movements. I am including the links:

        https://youtu.be/EXMgfTmoqC8. (Movement 1)

        https://youtu.be/UAUofKQklf4. (Movement 2)

        https://youtu.be/zvMcEblyGgA (Movement 3)

        https://youtu.be/3JsJo77j30s (Movement 4)

        https://youtu.be/XCESIQntiss (Movement 5)

        https://youtu.be/ktrFoXX5i6Q (Movment 6) …this one always makes me cry

        https://youtu.be/rFKu1Cs8wqo. (Resurrection)

    • Chris Hoffman says:

      Marge,
      Philipians 4:8 is so very liberating. It captures for us a way to being truly free. It sets us free from being chained to drawing comparisons to what is pleasing and not pleasing to us.

      Henri Nouwen, in the daily reading for February 13th in his book “You are the Beloved” we read:

      “Whenever, contrary to the world’s vindictiveness, we love our enemy, we exhibit something of the perfect love of God, whose will is to bring all human beings together as children of one Father. Whenever we forgive instead of getting angry at one another, bless instead of cursing one another, tend one another’s wounds instead of rubbing salt into them, hearten instead of discouraging one another, give hope instead of driving one another to despair, hug instead of harassing one another, welcome instead of cold-shouldering one another, thank instead of criticizing one another, praise instead of maligning one another…in short, whenever we opt for and not against one another, we make God’s unconditional love visible; we are diminishing violence and giving birth to a new community.”

      • Marge says:

        Thank you, Chris…just read I Corinthians 2:18….”For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to those being saved it is the power of God.” Trusting the way of the cross continues to bear fruit relationally…”opting for and not against one another.” Truly, “we have a living Lord to guide…..and we can trust Him to provide….do this and joy your hearts will swell….all is well, all is well” Song text from “Come, come ye saints”…..

  9. Chris Hoffman says:

    Henri Nouwen concludes Chapter 12 on page 78 with a bold proclamation which is to become ours. This being that the fear of death has been overcome. Both the death which releases us from the confines of this world and our fear and frustrations that our expectations may go unrealized. We are instructed to choose life. To cast away all of our fears. “To participate in the life where death can no longer reach” (page 76).

    Yes, there is despair which surrounds us. But this does not mean that we need to be shackled to it. Henri tells us “every moment there is a choice to be made: the choice for or against life” (page 77).

    Our hope and faith is not derived from our experiences with life nor our observations with life’s trauma. If it is we will be dragged down into a pit of death. Instead, “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

    Henri Nouwen confirms what the scriptures communicate beckoning us to leave fear behind and walk into resurrection life.

  10. Liz Forest says:

    STATION XIII – Jesus Taken Down –
    What strikes me is the beauty of the PIETA sculpture so familiar to us. How an artist can portray such sorrow and love in stone boggles my mind. Mary arms are receiving love as her heart is broken with sorrow. Henri says that to live close to the heart of God I must embrace sorrow. 9p. 82 Not easy when the sorrow is imposed by the violence of evil hearts. When the children students in their classroom are targets of a warped mind wielding a gun. I may not have to ever bear sorrow like Mary’s or mothers who have lost children too young. Yet my sorrows borne from love of God are given me as Henri says like a mantle wrapped around me, surrounding me with the mystery of the Divine. Will I accept that mantle?
    Who are those who reverently prepare the dying for death and burial? These hospice caregivers are angels of mercy. I admire their tireless devotion. I pray for such care when I am needing hospice.
    See pieta sculpture at http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelos-pieta/

    • Patricia Hesse says:

      This is my favorite work of art. I actually found a beautiful, small one on Amazon, that I have in my home.

  11. Pat Martin says:

    Ray stated that Sr. Helen David’s painting for Station XII is “impersonal,” but it feels very personal to me and I keep looking at it one more time and rereading the text before moving on. Jesus hangs dying on a cross that looks down on a dark, suffering world. A world that looks as though it is being overcome by evil. Weapons and ammunition seem to burst through the faces and figures of the victims of destruction. Perhaps faces of the ones perpetrating the destruction are placed among them; they are victims of a sort and suffer as well.

    Henri Nouwen’s words in the preface come back to me and give me hope: “In the heart of Jesus there is no place for anxious comparisons between the degrees and depths of human suffering. Little is accomplished by wondering who suffers more than who and whose pain is the worst.” Then these words: “Jesus died and rose for all people with all their differences so that all would be lifted up with him into the splendor of God.” I am so grateful to God for giving us his son and to the Son for giving everything for me and for all.

    • Pat Martin says:

      I feel as though both Sr. Helen David and Henri Nouwen have looked into my mind and soul. Henri says, “We often live as if the great powers of darkness . . . are completely separated from what we think and feel in our hearts. That separation is an illusion (p.77.)” He explains that there is a connection between a tiny fascination with death and horrendous human destruction and “when his [Jesus’] heart was pierced it was the heart that embraces our most hidden thought and our most far-reaching actions.” I turned back to the illustration and saw the weapons pointed at me like accusing fingers. Among other things I realized something that I already knew, that I have been aiming weapons at others when I say unkind things or think with anger in my heart about someone or something. The thoughts that I think can harm no one because they are only thoughts are actually weapons of destruction. So, again I am grateful that Jesus has overcome the forces of death and set captives free.

      • Liz Forest says:

        How true that we can be weapons by our thoughts that color our actions; by our speech that speaks of prejudice; by our ignorance which allows us to ignore evildoers.
        In Psalm 64:3 …. then we are those who sharpen their tongues like swords, and aim their bitter words like arrows…

        • Pat Martin says:

          You put that well, Liz, thoughts coloring actions. I am remiss in practicing my assigned balance lessons three times a day, and I am remiss in directing my thoughts as St. Paul outlines: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

  12. Sharon K. Hall says:

    The first picture from Sister Helen, the picture with all the war weapons, Jesus on the cross at the top, the very few people at the margins embracing each other really captures my emotions. This time of the liturgical year anyway always seems to be somehow deeper in urgency of the soul striving to be more faithful, more accepting of adversity, more real, more intimate in the Body and yet there can be these circumstances as I am living in now, wherein our congregation is doing a lot of self-assessment, in preparation for calling a new pastor and I feel like there is kind of a certain degree of emotional violence going on, folks trying to figure out why our congregation is struggling, where is the responsibility for this and so forth and so on. We all know that Jesus, at the top of the picture on His cross will have a good future in a very short time in the resurrection but to be as sure of our future is sort of more problemmatic. Will all of those war weapons be gone, will I still be hanging on to the few people I really feel intimate and secure with now, will the Body in our congregation be healed and whole again? Paradoxically, it is Jesus at the top on the cross which sustains me and helps me keep my faith, as I guess it is all the crosses and crucifixes in churches that have been helping Christians all along. When I read the paragraph on page 77, listing all the behaviors and choices, am dealing with all of them but there is one choice which Henri Nouwen does not list and that is the choice to either speak or be silent. In the scripture, during his trial, Jesus faced this choice and the importance of the choice is still very pertinent in these times of crisis and scapegoating, blaming, feeling pain. Jesus really knew what He was doing when He made all the choices He made in leading us in forming His Body, the Church. Who could have imagined a Saviour Who would know us so well and Who would always be so responsive to us in all these hours, weeks, years, lives of need?

  13. Patricia Hesse says:

    Sr. Helen’s painting for, “Jesus is Taken from the Cross,” was a hard one for me to look at –especially this week. When talking about the four murdered women, Henri says: “These four faithful, hardworking churchwomen had no other desire than to alleviate some of the immense suffering of their oppressed neighbors and to show them, in the midst of hatred and violence that people can truly love one another.”

    There are times in our life when we have the honor to know someone truly selfless. I was privileged to be Micha’s teacher for ten years and admit learning more from her than she ever did from me. Micha joined the Peace Corp after college, working in an impoverished area in Panama. After that, she did similar work in Columbia. The past year Micha has lived in a walled compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, monitoring relief projects for the U.S. Embassy. This involved going out into the surrounding area in an armored car with armed vehicles in front and back. That area of our world remains dangerous. That area of our world is a place of “immense suffering” and “oppression” for thousands of innocent Afghans at the hands of the Taliban.

    Even as a young girl Micha had a heart for those in poverty, living in countries where assistance was nonexistent. When she was a senior, I gave her the book, “Kite Runner,” knowing she would be touched by the story of the boy growing up in Afghanistan in a time of sheer terror.

    This week Micha was home. She came to visit me and gave me a kite from Afghanistan. I had chill bumps as I remembered giving her the book –she had remembered too. Micha stayed three hours; we talked about her work, about apathy, about the strength and hope of the world’s poor; she shared stories about the suffering and yet, the beauty of the Afghan people.

    Micha’s dad is a single parent. He is understandably unhappy about the path she has chosen –he fears for her life. He wants her “home.” He wants her to marry and have a family. I get that. I am certain he expects the worst each day, wondering if today he will receive the bad news he has imagined over and over again.

    Micha is the strongest, most giving person I know. She humbles me. She makes me wonder what our world would be if we simply cared for our neighbors with the love she shows the world.

    On Thursday, Micha spoke to our students about her work, sharing slides to help students better relate. I slipped in a last slide at the end with a quote by Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.”

    Pray for Micha who is continuing her work in Afghanistan. Pray for her Dad. Pray for all of us who love her. Pray that the image of the Salvadoran women brutally murdered for selflessly loving those in need is not one we will face with this precious, giving girl. Pray for the people of Afghanistan.

    • Pat Martin says:

      Your ‘word painting” of Micha has placed a picture of Station XIII in my mind. I see her standing in the background and in the foreground are the communities where she has lived and the people whom she has given herself to.

  14. Liz Forest says:

    On p. 75 Henri writes” “The great challenge of the Christian life is to say ‘Yes’ to life even in the smallest and, seemingly, unimportant details. Every moment there is a choice to be made: the choice for or against life.” To choose a positive direction rather than negative choice. To be rid of negativity which draws me into darkness. I need to have what Richard Rohr calls the “Third eye” to see all as God sees. The “every moment” is the hard part because mindfulness is an acquired practice. What helps me is to hang on to a line from Scripture or a hymn and call it up to block out the dark side of things.
    Today we sang “Be merciful as God is merciful to you.” A good refrain to sing silently when someone annoys me, ignores me, etc. Hear the hymn:
    https://youtu.be/jjo7fNLBMTw

    • Marge says:

      Beautiful…a new melody to the hymn we have sung at church for many years. I will carry that truth with me as well….”Be merciful just as our God is merciful..” thanks, Liz….

  15. Suzanne says:

    Just found this reading and wish i had seen it weeks ago.
    Either way, I thank you for your thoughtful considerations as well.
    Peace to you.

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