Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Fourteenth Station~Jesus is Laid in the Tomb~Waiting

In every life of every Christian there are countless resurrections--just as there are always many times when every Christian is buried with Christ.

In the soul of the sinner Christ dies many deaths and knows the glory of many resurrections.

In the souls that have served Him faithfully, too, there are long periods that seem like death, periods of dryness of spirit when all the spiritual things that once interested them have become insufferably tedious and boring, when it is very difficult, even sometimes impossible, to say a prayer . . . .

One of these things [which the souls who follow Christ in His suffering will imitate] is lying in the tomb, bound and restricted in the burial bands. There come times in every life when the soul seems to be shut down, frostbound in the hard, ironbound winter of the spirit; times when it seems to be impossible to pray, impossible even to want to pray; when there seems to be only cold and darkness numbing the mind.

These indeed are the times when Christ is growing towards His flowering, towards His spring breaking in the soul--towards His ever-recurring resurrection in the world, towards His glorious resurrection in the hearts of men.

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There seems to be nothing that we can do in these times to honour God, but by ourselves there is nothing that we can do at any time. In Christ we can do just what He did, remain quietly in the tomb, rest and be at peace, trusting God to awaken us in His own good time to a springtime of Christ, to a sudden quickening and flowering and new realization of Christ-life in us.

Caryll Houselander, The Way of the Cross

"Nothing we can do"--and one of the things that's almost impossible to do is to remember that Christ is, indeed, doing something in you during those times. It takes a long time come to the place where you are able to hold on to that hope. It's a mystery why we have to go through these times, but looking back I always find that they result in much more growth than all the times when things seem to be going well. Maybe when we are happy and content and feel like doing God's Will, we are so busy trying to do it that we get in His way. Maybe when we're desolate, we give Him room to work.

CH writes here of the end of this frozen experience coming quickly like Spring. And Spring does break out so quickly. You step outside and there are daffodils--and, over there, forsythia--and the redbud is blooming. I think that only once have I experienced the end of a period of desolation in that way. For me, it is always more like dawn on a cloudy day. I'm in the dark and there is no perceptible change, but then I realize it's lighter, and even then it takes a good while for the clouds to clear away and the sun come out. But, come out it does.

And am I happy when the sun comes out? Well yes, I'm grateful, and I enjoy it, but I never quite trust it. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. In some ways I'm more comfortable, not with the frozen, icebound winter, but with the kind of gray, rainy winter that we have around here. There's so much less scope for disappointment when I'm there. I know this is bad, and it's a lack of trust, but it's something that is very difficult for me to overcome.

However, I have noticed as I have been writing these meditations that joy seems to be sneaking up on me from every direction. When I was on my retreat, I went early to Mass because it said in the bulletin that they prayed the rosary before Mass. They said the Joyful Mysteries. What was that all about? And then there was that quote from St. Augustine, and a tape I listened to in the car on my trip home that said much the same thing. And when I sat down to write the meditation on the 12th Station, I had no idea that I was going to end up writing about joy. And when I sat down this morning, I didn't have any idea that I was going to end this series like this either. And I'm not too sure that if anyone else had been writing about joy during Lent, I might not have been irritated. But, you know, once Jesus was in that tomb, He wasn't just lying around waiting. He was doing this:



  1. I spoke too soon--this one is the best.

  2. Janet, I have greatly enjoyed and (I think) benefited from this series of Lenten stations. Thank you.