“To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.”
― Pope Benedict XVI, in Milestones: Memoirs, 1927-1977
GOOD-FRIDAY, 1613, RIDING WESTWARD
LET man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.
“O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again, but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us, that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.”
–St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Holy Thursday (Innocence)
Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
Grey headed beadles walked before with wands as white as snow
Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow
O what a multitude they seemed these flowers of London town
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door
Dorotheos of Gaza: “a man gains possession of the fear of God by keeping the thought of death before his mind”
“The Fathers tell us that a man gains possession of the fear of God by keeping the thought of death before his mind and remembering eternal punishment, by examining himself each evening about how he has passed the day and each morning about how he has passed the night; by never giving rein to his tongue and by keeping in close and continual touch with a man possessed of the fear of God, as his spiritual director.
A brother once said to one of the elders, ‘What shall I do, Father, that I may learn to fear the Lord?’ And he said, ‘Go and become a disciple of a man possessed of the fear of the Lord.’ We chase away from us the fear of the Lord by the fact that we do just the opposite; we do not keep before us the thought of death, or punishment, nor do we attend to our own condition, or examine how we spend our time, but we live differently and are occupied with different things, pandering to our liberty, giving way to ourselves, self-indulgence – this is the worst of all, this is perfect ruin.
What chases away the fear of the Lord as effectively as indulging our fancies? …. And when he was asked again, ‘Is it so very dangerous?’ he said, ‘Yes, there is nothing more dangerous than self-indulgence. It prepares the ground for all the vices because it chases out from the soul the fear of God.’”
– Dorotheos of Gaza