Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Good Friday

Over the course of the past almost 19 years of being a priest, I've actually had only a few opportunities to preside at all the liturgies of the Easter Triduum in the same place. Last year was one of those times, while I was at Camp Liberty in Iraq (though I celebrated the Triduum liturgies at Camp Stryker).

The Archbishop for the Military Services was actually in town at that time (insofar as anyone can be "in town" in Baghdad, I suppose), but was presiding at those liturgies at the same times, so I missed concelebrating them with him! Though it was spring time, it was already pretty hot there.

Here, the weather is finally getting nice, and while I'm glad for winter's exit, I'm actually OK with it not being beastly hot (yet). It's supposed to get really hot and humid a bit later in the year here. I suspect it will wind up being reminiscent of Summer Camp - South, from which then-SFC McG and I deployed to Iraq.

The weather reports for the last two weeks had been predicting rain over Easter weekend, but none developed. I was especially grateful the rain held off for the whole of the Triduum. In addition to the customary Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, which we observed at noon on Good Friday, I love to celebrate an adaptation of the Byzantine Liturgy of the Burial Jesus on Good Friday night.

Many, many thanks to my parents for having sent a large box of silk flowers for use at Mass on Maundy Thursday, and especially for the Burial. It would have been optimal to have fresh spring flowers for Good Friday night, but that just wasn't possible here. Fortunately, my parents had found a great source for beautiful, life-like tulips, daffodils, freesias, and lilacs last year (while I was in Iraq), and they again this year sent me a floral bonanza for my liturgies.

As I'd suspected, no one who participated in the liturgy on Friday night had ever experienced anything like it before. While lasting only thirty minutes, the rite communicates powerful realities through its counterpoint of darkness and candle light, and the engagement of the olfactory sense by incense, rose water, and orange blossom water. (My good friend Angela sent me those liquids this year, as she had last year, as well. Thanks, Sweetie!)

Many thanks, too, to SFC D and SSG L for building a wonderful 'tomb' outside the chapel, in which we laid the Shroud to rest after our procession through the church and outside. Because the rain held off, we were able to finish the Liturgy of the Burial of Jesus at the tomb, at which each of the congregants was handed one of the spring flowers.

Let us pray.
O Christ our life, you died and were buried.
You are life itself. How can you lie in a tomb?
You are fairer in beauty than all mortals,
and you have made the nature of all things beautiful.
How can you be a corpse, without form or comeliness?
The angels are amazed at the sight of God
enclosed within a tomb:
with them we glorify your burial
and your great love for us.
You are God for ever and ever.
(Opening prayer from the Liturgy of the Burial of Jesus)

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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