Unity all alone, but then…

The Chrism Mass, and then the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday service… the Sacred Triduum so far… for me, this year…

  • … is enthrallingly all about the unity in the Mystical Body of Christ which comes about as He is lifted up on the Cross and draws all to Himself right across Calvary where all hell is broken out…
  • … and also is frighteningly all about that aloneness (not loneliness) which is to be experienced in some manner when one is at least in the smallest way in solidarity with Jesus when He cries out: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!”

The two could not be more different nor more simultaneous, one tied into the other.

Some Scripture verses come to mind:

  • “My people has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword; if I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine. Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.” (Jeremiah 14:17-18)
  • “We are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader…” (Daniel 3:37-38)

My experience so far this Holy Week is a distant and mere shadow of the intensity of the experience of Saint John when he, of all the apostles who ran away when Jesus was arrested, returned quite alone, all hell broken out, all friends vanished, but to accompany Mary who was in perfect solidarity with Jesus there on Calvary.

The aloneness acts as an invitation to prayer for those still running away in whatever manner even as we are bidden by Jesus to behold Mary as our dear Mother. But with that, for me, ever the spiritual newbie and knowing nothing of anything, such unity with Jesus, standing with Him in His trials, standing as His vicar with His Mother, brings all the more aloneness: Who are we, amongst all the others, to do such a thing? And yet, where are they? Jesus entrusts her to us and vice versa even while He then precipitates to preach to the fallen spirits. He goes to do His Father’s will. We are left with great responsibility in His place. We are so inept. The most inept. If only those who had run away would have stayed they would be so much better right here, right now. Everyone else has run away.

And then our eyes are opened at least a bit, and we see that so many of our brothers not only have been standing there with us the whole time, but were there before us, have been praying for us, with Mary. Wretches that we are, we’re there. In the aloneness of the full number of the brothers who are to witness to the Lord Jesus not yet fulfilled, we pray for that to happen even as Jesus draws all to Himself as He is lifted up, yet crying out: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

For me, something like that, but from a distance, and yet… right there…


Filed under Jesus, Spiritual life

9 responses to “Unity all alone, but then…

  1. catherine

    Father George,

    I wish you a Blessed Triduum!

    Today, is day 2 of the Divine Mercy Novena given by our Lord to St. Faustina. Its for you….

    “Today bring to me The Souls of Priests and Religious and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.”

    We join St. Faustina in her prayers:

    “Most Merciful Jesus, from whom all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

    Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen. ”

    May the Holy Face of Jesus shine upon you and bless you!


  2. sanfelipe007

    First, “He then precipitates to preach to the fallen spirits. ” What wonderful way to say “he descended to the dead” because, from the perspective of those in Gehenna, Jesus’ presence was like rain in the desert.

    Second, thank you for the reminder, Catherine. I felt like starting a Novena this morning, but my usual Novena to the Holy Spirit seemed somehow off-the-mark. Now I know why. I’ll join a day late.

    And least. Speaking of aloneness, I ran away yesterday from the Good Friday service. It was after my veneration of the cross – I thought the line of faithful impossibly long for the size of our church – my body weak after standing for an hour at the noon “Live” stations of the cross. Now I had been standing in a packed church for two hours, after which my mind followed my body, thinking pitifully, “the Lord will forgive my weakness” and I left without benefit of the Eucharist. I left early! Thanks be to God He did not demand my fool’s life in the night.

  3. Aussie Mum

    Holy Saturday night here in Australia and there is much to think on. Reading your post brought the following to mind.
    Abel, son of Adam and Eve, along with all the men of similar heart and mind to his form an unbroken line down the ages right up to today and going onward until the end of time. Those before Christ looked ahead to His Sacrifice that would atone for sin, something they longed for but their sacrifice of a lamb could only point to. Then those after Christ who, receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders, act in Persona Christi and make His Sacrifice present on our altars until the end of time. And at the centre is Good Friday 2 millennia ago and yet present: the “Lamb of God,” His Sacrifice on Calvary bringing to fruition the hopes of Abel and all the faithful down the ages. All those good men who laboured for Him from the dawn of history and will until the end of the world, represented in a special way by St John, priest and bishop, under the Cross.
    It is as if time is collapsed during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We and all the faithful who have ever lived are gathered there as one, under the Cross, with Mother Mary and St John.
    Sin brought desolation. Survival was possible because the Messiah was coming and now remains with us in the Eucharist. There is no life worth the name without Him.

    • sanfelipe007

      “It is as if time is collapsed during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We and all the faithful who have ever lived are gathered there as one, under the Cross, with Mother Mary and St John.”
      Yes. The Sacrifice of the Mass unites all the faithful across both time and space, the ages before and after, and even with heaven. We should all fall to the ground, as the Romans did in the garden when Jesus answered, “I am!”
      We are in the Real Presence of God. But we sinners cannot fathom it because we see as if through a s glass, darkly.

      • Aussie Mum

        You have hit the nail on the head, 007: “we see as if through a glass, darkly”. Thankfully we have Father Byers to help us.
        Wishing you a very happy and holy Easter, dear brother in Christ.

      • Father George David Byers

        All dark here…. I wanna go to heaven!!!

  4. Gina Nakagawa

    Dear Father, This post is beautiful beyond words. Thank you. May God shower you with blessings at Easter and always.

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