Holy Week

ALTDORFER, Christ on the Cross between Mary and St John (c. 1512), Staatliche Museen, Kassel

SUNDAY 9th April – Palm Sunday

We gather outside Holy Rood and stand for the long passion reading from Matthew before going back for some more fishing and lunch with all the windows open, the sights and sounds of the countryside flooding in.

Meanwhile in Syria, American warplanes have dropped more bombs.

When we have removed the detestable Assad, who then will protect the Christians? After we removed Saddam, who protected the Christians? They are not visiting the towns they fled from and which I visited. They do not dare for fear not just of ISIS but their neighbours.

MONDAY 10th April

The poetry of Isaiah, 42:1-7
“… he does not cry out or shout aloud, or raise his voice in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame…”

TUESDAY 11th April

I go to the very long Chrism Mass in the Cathedral, but quite a sight – about 200 priests in front of me all in white. The Cardinal’s sermon is soothing. I have a little sleep.

“… lay down your life for me …”

WEDNESDAY 12th April

Isaiah 50:4-9, there is no sudden conversion experience:
“Each morning he wakes me to hear,
To listen to a disciple”.

I think: when we got rid of the detestable Saddam, who then protected the Christian communities of Iraq that I visited?

THURSDAY 13th April – Maundy Thursday

I love Maundy Thursday because this is the day as in the previous thirty-three years that we drive to Downside for the Easter Retreat.

We are a little bit late but I catch enough of Father Michael’s talk to concentrate on the need for prayer.

After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, I sit for a time in the Lady Chapel. For the first time I do not need to say words for prayer. Just be – think of myself in the presence of God.

FRIDAY 14th April – Good Friday

I do some of the very long walk from Wells to Downside that this year takes five hours.

As usual the Celebration of the Passion came to its climax with the hymn ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ – the only hymn I know by heart.

In the evening I manage to go to confession. I am given the Magnificat to say as a penance. It is appropriate to what I have been thinking on the need for humility.

In a Lectio Divina group and later in a silent meditation we can think of the words of Jesus after the Resurrection:
“Do not be afraid…
Go tell my brothers, they must leave for Galilee.
They will see me there”.

SATURDAY 15th April – Holy Saturday

One always dreads the prospect of the Easter Vigil, so long, especially with a baptism in the middle, but by the end it’s like having gone a long spiritual run – you feel like you have covered the ground and achieved something and go to bed happy.

We have a talk in the afternoon on whether religion causes violence. Perhaps it is better to understand that religion does not cause violence, but originates out of the violence of human nature.

Are we locked permanently in a line of jealous triangles where we crave what others are and what others have just because we do not have it?