The Good News

Welcome to The Good News Blogspot! The Good News is real and alive in my own life. Jesus has fulfilled in my life His promise of fuller and more abundant life (John 15), a quality of life I could not have created for myself. I invite you to share experiences with me so we can all grow into the life He offers us all.

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Catholic by call, Jesuit by nature, a preacher/spiritual conversation partner by choice. Learning about getting older, learning to live in the present moment, one day at a time. Learning to let go and laugh.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Mourning a Friend




There is nothing so sad as Good Friday night. The Memorial of Our Lord’s Passion is over, and we are alone. The Western church, though its tradition is already rich, needs a burial service for Jesus.

I attended such a service some years ago with the Community of the Beatitudes, who live in a former Cistercian monastery in Mortain, a small town in the Normandy region of France. The community’s ample stone church and cloister, the Abbeye Blanche, reflect the austere late-12th Century French style. Those who live here, perhaps 60 men and women, some married, some single, some priests, some nuns, dedicate their lives to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and service to the poor.

On the Good Friday night of my visit, we shared an ascetic meal of tasteless broth during which our only conversation was to tell our faith stories. Then the community invited us guests to join them in the “salle capitulaire” below the main altar. Originally the monks met in this formal room, sitting in stone benches, still present, built into the walls. Slender pillars and arches supporting the structure above broke the sightlines of the spacious “salle,” though the room housed us easily. A stone sarcophagus stood with dignity in the center of the room, its carvings now indistinct from age.

The March night was cold, the room was dark, and we shivered despite our coats as we sat in rows of chairs around the sarcophagus. After a time in silence, candles were lit, and the music began, a chant in medieval style, in French, the leader singing, the rest responding. A pair of community members approached the sarcophagus, covering it with a heavy linen cloth which they smoothed carefully and lovingly. From time to time other community members approached the sarcophagus as the singing continued. Some sprinkled fresh rose petals, both red and white, on the cloth. Some sprinkled rose water. Then more singing, readings in French, and more singing until the cloth had disappeared under the petals.

The music was mournful, thought sweet with our grieving. The brightness of the rose petals and the fragrance of rose water gave weak relief to the cold and the darkness of what might well have been a tomb. After a while the singing ceased, and we remained in silence until we each felt the desire to return to our rooms. The cold became unbearable at one point, so I left numbly, but feeling a great sense of joy that we had mourned the death of our friend and Lord.

For more on Abbeye Blanche and the community, visit The Beatitudes. Then click on "Europe," then "France."

2 Comments:

Anonymous teresaanawim said...

I dunno...I get a feeling of sadness on Good Friday, but yesterday(G. Fri) 2 people wished "Happy Good Friday". It puzzled me and had me questioning the feeling of sadness I had. "after all', I thought, " wasn't the death of Our Lord a GOOD' thing accomplished for the sin of the world"?
But here I am on Saturday, not yet joyful, but sitting here typing with a feeling of sadness for the Innocent Beloved who was deserted by all, treated without dignity who descended to the dead . I await the joy of His resurrection !!!
I think , perhaps, getting into the Gospel by living the story along with the Disciples as we read gives one a sense of 'identifying' with them more.
As I said in another post on your other blog, I do enjoy a good story..especially the Gospel accounts.
'scuse the long comment..I get carried away at the keyboard at times LOL.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous teresaanawim said...

Today is Resurrection Sunday.
HAPPY EASTER, Fr. Ben!
Our Lord IS Risen Indeed!

12:20 PM  

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