Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 28-29

 

Week 28


It's not that I want to rebel, I just don't want to be bothered. I believe, I understand Jesu's surrender to the Father's will and what surrender looks like in my life. But today I am weary. I am tired of always having to be the one who accommodates and the one who fixes. I am all,out of answers. I am all out of alternatives. The only help can come from God and tomorrow may be a better day, but today I am tired. -Week 28


Where am I this week? Many times I'm with the crowd. I don't want the challenge that Jesus represents. Its easier to go with the flow and to ignore the presence of God in our midst. It's easier to just avoid Calvary and ignore pain, evil and suffering.

But maybe sometimes I'm the Roman Centurion. Out of a sense of duty I am here and present with Jesus. Yes there is something different here. In His passivity there is a challenge that I am drawn to.
I'm reading a novel Confessions by Jaume Cabilet ( a Catalan novelist). One theme is the recurring presence of evil in history and our attempts to explain it. The recurrence is so frequent that historical events merge across centuries in the protagonist's mind. Yet as I contemplate the Cross it's not so much I see an explanation. I can see that there in the midst of the recurrence of evil, pain and suffering there is God. But more than that isn't the equilibrium state a return to love? Evil is not allowed to persist. The presence of love is too great. -Week 28

Father,
I found it very difficult contemplating
The betrayal, torture and death
Of your Son, and Yourself.
It was so human and yet inhuman,
Emotionally and physically
Heart rending and painful to imagine.
Was this the only way to show again
Your love for us, Your desire for us
To be united with You?

Over the years, the Gospel of Your sacrifice
Has been drowned by our indifference and
Blinding preoccupation with worldly things.
We are so weak and hard-hearted
That we cannot see past our noses,
Past our inflated self-importance,
Past our addiction to gold and glory, and to
Modes and methods that govern our lives.

Please let Your grace touch us
Even if just ever so lightly
That we may recognize You
In everyone, in all things and situations,
To feel and see Your ever present love for us,
To love as Your compassionate heart loves,
To the point of great pain and death
And save us from our unworthy selves.

Thank you very much.
Chacho- Week 28


Am in the 28th week of the retreat and much has happened over the last 28 weeks.  This morning as I went on the website and went through the Stations of the Cross, I thought of all the crosses we bare here on earth, but none as physically painful as what Jesus endured.  My life has taken such a turn that I can barely function.  Divorce from a secular marriage with a man who sucked almost all of my spirit out of me. 20 years and in 2009 I left for the final time.  I was not beaten physically, but mentally.  I kept trying and trying to make it work. I made a decision in 1993 that took me to this place. Through the grace of God, I have been able to get through. I started this retreat in October and in November the father of my children (also an 18 year marriage) died.  I was able to be present as best I could for my adult children.  That marriage was physically and mentally abusive as well, but I stayed.  I was of the belief I could make it ok.  All during that marriage I raised three children, Mass, CCD, etc. All of it.  I was "running the show."  Everything had to be survived. So, 40 years of two men that I needed to make me ok and not alone. I am alone now and have been for awhile. No relationship on earth to fix me, just my relationship with Jesus.  This is hard.  The evil spirits give me daily battle for my soul. Being alone is not easy. I am slowly turning toward a life of the spirit. I show up for retreat at church, am doing adoration chapel and learning to pray out of desire and responsibility. We have 6 more weeks to go. I am in the process of moving one more time.  What is God's will?  I do not know. I have learned that it is not the end result that I should be focus on (my desire and needs), but the experience. The last marriage broke me mentally and emotionally and almost spiritually. God did not abandoned me even tho at times over the last four and half years I felt like I was walking through a dark cave with no hope.  He (my former husband) would call me and I would talk to him.  I deep inside desired his return to me, but something kept saying no.  I found out two weeks ago after the divorce, in September he had married, but he never told me. He called me and invited me for coffee and would call and text. I finally have closed the door completely. No more contact.  Every time I talked to him I felt like I had dropped into a deep hole and I could feel my strength taken away.  He is a troubled man and because I refused to come back, he found another woman to take care of him.  I am not healed. The wound goes deep. Sorry to go on and on. A lot is in my mind.  I am walking the spiritual path and I now understand my faith is not in my head it is in my soul.  It seems my soul is located in my gut because there I feel so much.  Thank you for allowing me a place to share.  I am a writer and have tried blogging, FB etc. But what I have to write about does not belong on those pages.  I am 65 years old and am just waking up to life.  Toward the end of my life I have found a beginning and is frightening. 


In week 28... I decided to put myself in uncomfortable places in Matthew 26 57-68. I placed myself as one who brought false witness against Jesus.  Where in my life do I bear false witness against my neighbor? When I gossip, or create drama, convey someone else's words using a meaning they did not intend. When I assume, exaggerate or believe the worst without question.  On to Matthew 26:11-21, where I  viewed the trial from Pilate's wife's eyes...What was her dream? What if she kept silent out of fear?When have I remained silent? When could my words have made a difference? Could they do so now? Where? What are the words and why don't I say them?


Week 28

Vatican City:
pilgrims gather from the world,
stations of the cross

-Ellen E. H. (while in Rome) 

Week 28:  Jesus Surrenders to His Passion
Guide: Agony and Love

The 4th station:  Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

When my daughter was hospitalized I told myself not to show her how distraught I was.  It was really just a viral thing but since there were many incidents of  dengue fever she was worried.  When she cried I could feel her pain.  When she let out a sigh I could feel her anxiety.  I held her hand to assuage her fears.  I massaged her feet to put her to sleep.  The Palm Cross was always in her hand as we prayed together.  A mother is a mother is a mother.

When the Blessed Mother saw her son dripping in blood,  writhing in pain and agony I could not imagine how she would have felt.  If that simple fever left me drained emotionally not to mention financially,  how did that encounter leave her?  I cried as I imagine the two of them looking at each other's eyes  as if saying " Thy will be done."

What about those mothers who until now are still looking for their sons and daughters who disappeared in the dead of the night and for some brazenly snatched in broad daylight?  What agony do those mothers experience everyday of their lives?  Not knowing if their children are still alive is torture enough.  What would have they given up just to see their son?  Just to see their daughter?  Dead or alive.  

When we are dripping in blood and writhing in pain and agony,  when we are down and out and the world has left us to die in shame and ignominy just like it left Jesus to die like a criminal,  let us turn to our Lady of Sorrows. Her heart pierced with the cross,   she knows the agony.  She knows the pain.    She will not leave us just like she did not leave her Son.  She stayed at the foot of the cross. And so shall she stay with us.


Week 28: There is so very much to think about this week.  The word running through my head is surrender.  Not the kind of surrender as in a war when one side surrenders to another, but self surrender.  I have a problem with surrender.  I like things done my way, in my time.  In other words I am a controlling person, or I like to be.  So this is a huge lesson for me to give up all, not just my things, but myself, and do things God's way, in His perfect time.

The things I noticed:  The Last Supper: How distressed Jesus became when He knew His betrayal was at hand.  How knowing the future was not pleasant, but torture.  And then not just Judas, but another trusted apostle would deny Him.

The Agony in the Garden:  Agonizing over His betrayal and trying to come to grips with surrendering to God's will.  And the gaul of a close friend kissing the face of God to betray Him.

How Jesus was betrayed by His own people, people who He knew in the Religious Trial.

How both Judas and Peter were close to Jesus.  The difference was that Judas could not forgive himself.  Peter did forgive himself and went on to become the 1st Pope.  What a powerful statement about how important it is to forgive all people, even ourselves, and that nothing is impossible to forgive.

The Roman Trial:  Pilot could have let Jesus go.  But because he was full of fear even knowing Jesus was innocent, Pilot tortured and crucified Jesus trying to remain popular with the people.  This says a lot about fear and popularity.

The Way of the Cross:  This was a journey of complete surrender.  Jesus was innocent and alone, fatigued, weak, full of inner struggle, carrying all of my sins, so overwhelmed that another, Simon, had to help with His burden.  Simon, Mary His mother, and Veronica, and the weeping women try to comfort and console Jesus.  The rest seem to have abandoned Him.  I go walking every day for 2 miles and if I am alone I say the rosary.  If someone comes by, I "hide" the rosary.  It came to me that this action is also a denial of Christ.  I am no better then they are.  I also have been taught that because of the thorns on His head, the whipping on His back, His wounds in His hands and feet, Christ had no comfortable position on the cross.  In order to breath, He had to push up with his feet.  His knees were bent so this caused excruciating pain in His feet.  He had no clothes on, was in between 2 thieves, and had no dignity or pride left to Him.  The irony is that Jesus was the King of the Jews and they put that as a sign over His head, but very few believed it.  And then He surrenders His last breath to God and "falls into God's hands".  His tomb becomes my tomb, if I believe I can also rise up and be with Him.

Marie in Illinois


My Reflections on Week 28
Jesus surrenders to his passion
Isaiah 50:1-7
V.4-5: Jesus always listened to his heavenly Father and was obedient to him. He spoke God’s words to people. Lord, help me to always have an open ear towards you, too, and speak words that come from you to instruct and strengthen others.
Psalm 22
A vivid description of Jesus’ physical and emotional suffering and feeling far away from God... It’s like God didn’t hear and answer him. People mocked him and insulted him; it’s so unfair how they treated him. A cry to God for help… I don’t like being misunderstood and would want to justify myself, but Jesus didn’t. What I find most amazing is how the tune changes towards the end of the Psalm to praise and thanksgiving. How can one give thanks in the depth of such great suffering? Jesus looked ahead to the future, to what was coming and what God would be doing. (But he poured out his heart and feelings to God first.) Thank you, Lord that I can be open towards you and pour out my heart to you, e.g. when I feel upset about being misunderstood or others being treated unjustly. Help me to focus my eyes away from the circumstances and on you, on the beautiful things you want to do. A vision for the future!
Phil. 2:6-11
Thank you, Lord Jesus for humbling yourself and becoming a servant, you who had the highest possible position. Thank you for being willing to give up your “comfortable” place in heaven with God and become a human being, experiencing a whole range of situations and emotions. You truly modelled servant leadership! You lived out the mission God had given you! God’s principle is to lift up those that humble themselves. Now you have all the power and the highest place beside God in heaven.
Lord, give me your humility of heart and willingness to be a servant leader! Living in a different culture already means giving up part of myself, trying to adjust to a different lifestyle. People here don’t know my family background, upbringing and friends at home. I try to understand them, but there’ll always be a part of me that they can’t fully understand as I didn’t grow up in this country. Both countries are home to a certain extent, but not 100% anymore. Thank you that my true home is with God who’s with me wherever I am and my eternal home is in heaven!
Mt. 26:14 – 27:66
Scripture had to be fulfilled, but it is really sad that one of Jesus’ own disciples and not a more distant person betrayed him. It’s most painful when someone from an inner circle, someone close to the person, betrays them. So many people have experienced that – Christians and also people in Communist countries. – Spiritual darkness came over Judas when he betrayed Jesus. Later he came to his senses and regretted the act, but then it was too late. He must have been out for the money and thought that Jesus would save himself anyways.
The disciples were determined to stay with Jesus, but in the end Peter denied him as Jesus had predicted it beforehand. That hurts when a friend denies you! “I don’t know this man!” – and they had lived closely together for about 3 years! That’s like a slap in the face! - And the others were just too sleepy to stay up with Jesus and support him in prayer – human weakness! Forgive me, Jesus, for times when I’ve also neglected prayer or not openly and clearly confessed that I belong to you.
Jesus didn’t justify himself when he was questioned by Pilate and when other people insulted him. I like to explain myself in order to help people understand my actions, but Jesus didn’t find that necessary.
The earthquake around Jesus’ death and other happenings made the centurion and others who guarded Jesus convinced that he must have been the Son of God. And the Pharisees and teachers of the law were spiritually blind and still didn’t recognize him! Signs and wonders can lead some, but not all people to faith.
Several times it says that the prophecies had to be fulfilled. God has his hand over all the events in history, including the pain and suffering! It’s comforting that God’s word is absolutely true and trustworthy!


Week 28: My focus this week became the Stations of the Cross.
I could easily put me in the place of those that left Jesus to hide, to survive. I could see me as Judas. The Stations of the Cross in our Church’s building became alive and my attention moved to them during some of our prayers and songs. There were many connections to the Stations and this week’s Liturgical readings, the Eucharistic Prayer, and Communion. Mary’s continued faithfulness and actions showed her courage and lack of fear. I felt my fear. It seemed that the Resurrection somehow concluded each entry into the Stations in my thoughts. My prayers were of thankfulness and filled with awe at the continuous forgiveness that I receive from Jesus while I struggle to forgive others for some of the most minor “hurts” to me. At times I would see glimpses of how others have been so willing and able to forgive major pain and suffering caused by another. There seemed to be a sense of freedom on the other side and yet an iron veil blocks me from moving out of my self -centered ways. As I write this I feel thankful, hopeful, and fearful. I am so aware of the forgiveness, prayers and support that I need from others and awakening to realize others might need mine too.
-Joe
Week 28, As I reflect on this past week, and Jesus's surrender all I could think about was his total surrender to God's will, His fathers will, his plan for him. I pictured Him praying in the garden so alone just surrendering giving His life for God, for us! I got down on my knees just to be with Him to pray with Him and just wept, sobbed for Him, for me and asked forgiveness for every sin I could recall and surrendered my life to Him as best as I could, but it's so hard being human with all of the temptations surrounding us....but it was a start and I am so aware of His Presence within me now at ALL times. I love you Jesus please fill me with your Presence, your Light, your Love, please be with me as I pray with you, sit with you, love you. Amen...Happy Easter everyone. --Patti
Week 28: For a long time, I have focused on the first sorrowful mystery of the rosary when I say the sorrowful mysteries, for that seems to me to be the worst of the pain that Jesus had to go through. While the rest would have been terrible enough the agony in the garden must have been even worse. And so when I say that I lived through a miniature life story of Easter this past week, and yes it seems that the Lord must still be providing living parallels to the exercises, I realize that it would have been a tiny parallel, yet it provided an Easter experience to go with the guidlines.

The story in brief, is that a gopher had taken residence in a hole at the base of some steps leading to the entrance to a set of apartments in the building where I live. For about two months, I had slowly grown attached to the gopher and had given it the name of Goofer, because I thought it was a goof up to build a nest where it did. Anyway, for about a week before this last one it had shown itself as a mother of 5 pups, and watching their antics added to my fondness for them. Then, this last week while I was concerned with the final days of Jesus in the exercises, I came home from Church to find that Goofer's hole had been covered with gravel and had white crystals around it. Convinced that Goofer had been killed, I felt awful for the rest of the day. Then the next morning, I saw Goofer. She was alive and had dug the gravel away from the hole, and I experienced a joy that she was alive after all.
Though in tiny miniature, the parallels between what I experienced and what the apostles may have experienced led to a deeper understanding and feeling for the Whole Easter Event. It is, though something that I need to keep in focus the why of the decisions that I have made, and to develop a trust in the Lord.
--Quentin
Week 28: Somehow stopping here made the transformation of the Resurrection even more remarkable. The betrayal, pain, the agony are not less real because of Resurrection. Peter clearly preaches Christ Crucified and Christ Risen after Pentacost. So I stop here again and wonder at God's Love. Betrayal, pain and agony are still visible today around us. I need to feel God's enduring love there still. I see also even more acutely my self-centredness which causes me to walk past to avoid the Crucifixion scenes . I promise to renew my trust in God in that very scene even though I do not know where that trust will lead me ... Except it will lead somewhere ....


Week 28, Easter week and I reflect on the suffering of Christ's passion and the joy of His resurrection. A great sign of God's continuing love for us is in the fact that after suffering and dying for us, Christ could have continued into the kingdom of heaven to reign in glory with his followers but he came back among us. We have already received his teaching and healing yet he came back out of pure love so that the light of His love would illuminate his creation. He is the light of the world.
-- Roger


I'm doing Week 28 over because last week was hectic and I didn't spend enough time on the Retreat. However, this morning it struck me that pain inflicted on us by others reverberates, but we can stop the reverberations even though we have no control over the inflicting source. The natural but ineffective way to stop the reverberations is repression ---"I don't care!!!" That just makes things worse. Reverberations can be stopped by forgiving the source, and the forgiveness has to be Christian love. Forgiving is something like turning a destructive power into a good power by offering it to the suffering Jesus and having it turned into the power of the Resurrected Christ. I can't say that I understand this, but I have glimpsed it this morning.


As I look at the picture of the tortured man and women I try to imagine being there w/ them. My mind seems to rush all about. I imagine me doing some heroic deed only to have that image replaced w/ one of me running away in fear that I may be tortured too. My mind is trying to protect from the feeling of helplessness the picture evokes. Then grace comes to me w/ the strength to stay a moment w/ my helplessness. There is nothing I can do. But then I'm graced again w/ the thought that I can kneel and pray for them. I pray that Christ be w/ them in their suffering. I pray and pray w/ everything I have and I'm able to endure the the injustice and horror of this scene.
Thank you Dear Lord for helping w/ this exercise. Bob


greetings from nell on tweed. for me this week matched september 11th and the two things for me are similar in that i am not simply turning my eyes away from the things i have previously found too diffiuclt to look at. so i have breathed into the stations of the cross which are unfamiliar to me. and i have also watched 9/11 shows. its also 5 years since my mothers death.
once again i know i am a novice in these matters and will not try to write much because i am learning from you.
i think i was fairly stuck in the garden and in the agonising into surrender. there were a lot of concepts in that week. and im sure they will filter through in coming weeks. i continue to learn the love of a woman - walking behind and 'ministering' and holding the tensions and energies and pain. i consider this a grace for me. i have always felt i must DO something to fix things. now i understand the passionate love of the one seeming to do nothing. my love to you all
--NELL. from tweed.
I want to share three thoughts. First: when I suffer, I feel profound tenderness and affection for those I love. I imagine our Lord had similar—though infinitely more powerful—feelings on the cross. Like someone told me once: when you hear the song ask “were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the answer is YES!—the faces of each of us were in his Sacred Heart.Second: I saw a presentation of the Stations of the Cross this past week, enacted by some students at the Catholic school. At some point, I could no longer bear it, and closed my eyes. How difficult it is to be present to the ones we love when they suffer! What courage, what strength Mary must have had to accompany Jesus on his way and to stand beneath the cross! Mary! Give us your courage and strength to stand with you and be present with Jesus and all who suffer!Third: I went to confession this week. Due to circumstances beyond my control, this was not my usual confessor. I was struck by the way he empathized with my sins—not excusing them nor condoning them, but acknowledging his own humanity, his own inclination to sin, his own struggle. I was amazed by how comforting I found this and realized that the comfort lie in the priest’s imitation of Christ: though one with God, he became human. In that priest, I saw Christ, felt the consolation of Christ, more clearly than I have in a long time. All because he, like Christ, shared my humanity. And in sharing my humanity, he showed me divinity: Christ’s, the priest’s, and that to which even I became heir at my baptism. What a tremendous gift is the humility of Christ. And what a tremendous gift is the humble priest!
-- Tom, Pennsylvania
Again I wonder this week where Jesus' thoughts really are on this journey. Are they on his resurrection or on his suffering? I want to think resurrection because I want to avoid suffering. But I know there is no resurrection without suffering. Jesus has to be true to His Father in all ways. Then as I do the Stations of the Cross, I wonder where am I really in these scenes? I'm probably with the disciples ... not present ... full of great hopes for transformation ... but on my terms ... my priorities ... and not Jesus'. Then I'm asked to reflect that this is for me ... how can this be? Please, I beg, you don't really have to go through this for me ... I'm not worth it. But Jesus' still calls gently ... just as he called John from the Cross. If this is how much He loves me ... what do I really have to do to return that love?
Thank you for letting me be part of the group. I am about to begin the 28th Week, and I hope to continue reading all the material I have downloaded so far. Actually I shall restart all over after the weeks are over, because i feel i have been mechanically reading and not doing much in practice, and so everyday shall be Ignatian exercise for the rest of my life, trying to follow in His footsteps with you all. Praying with you, thank you.
Week 28: Jesus knew from back in His days how incredibly resistant are His followers to His guidance, even when His guidance will save them from disaster or death! Thousands of bible stories are stories of pride and an ever patient, forgiving Father who will keep calling and inviting the faithful to His guidance. To this day, it’s the same God nagging us still, to come and follow Him! And Jesus calls the same “proud and self-focused” believer! But thank God, it is both our human weakness and human strength to long for peace, to want answers, to do what is right in this life, and even right the wrong, and so, we search for guidance. On this Christ’s Passion season, let us not pass up the opportunity to dwell on ourselves as Jesus calls us to “soften our hearts” and maybe even “soften our minds” since it is “no brainer” to realize that in order to fall in love with Jesus, we have to come closer to Him, know Him and follow Him. Pride and selfishness were all the reasons Jesus carried that cross and died. Let us not pass up the opportunity to focus on our pride and selfishness these coming days. But as we self-focus, let’s stay close to Jesus for His guidance through His Word and His invitation to, “do this in memory of me!”
During the 28th week, in the praying in the Garden, Jesus said," if there is no other way and I must suffer, I will still do what you want."  this meant for me how deep God's love for us is and Jesus's trust and love for God is.  The Station of the Cross and the photo of the drawing from El Salvador helped me to meditate Jesus's passion more actually than before. Especially when I meditated Jesus was whipped, beaten, mocked, and stripped, I felt so helpless and angry and insulted.
I experienced the same feelings when watching the scenes that the Iraqis was stripped and mocked, beaten by some of US army- through they are enemies at war- on tv.
Now brutality of the terror and war, many innocent deaths  is connected with Jesus's suffering.  As little students hostaged by terrorist in Russian school were suffering from fear without food and water, l surely acknowledg that Jesus was suffering with them there because of love.
Thank you for the beautiful reflections for this week. I have been reading two stations a day, because that is all I can handle. I am overcome with emotion at the depth of his total self giving love. There really are no words to describe how I feel when I contemplate on the stations. The reflections have aided in my understanding and contemplation in a way that is new. Always moved by the passion, and feeling great sorrow for what Jesus went through is nothing new to me, but I never took this so personally before. He did this for me. I experience His passion through the actual passion and through the passion scenes of my own life experiences .

I saw Christ crucified in situations in my own family and friends ,acquaintances, and strangers.  The brutality of war, the loss of life, and the daily Calvary of humanity is somehow connected with Christs suffering. We are not alone in our suffering , He is there . He has gone before us to lead us to himself in these circumstances.

I really am speechless , and can't articulate how God could humbly subject himself to every kind of insult, pain, and abandonment that Jesus did for me. It is the most beautiful love offering  for eternity.

I pray for all who are and will join in Christs sufferings, that we may always turn to the one in three trinity for heavenly support to guide us onward to our true home.  God please come to my assistance. Week 28
The reflections for the Twenty-eighth Week of the Retreat were focused on the events around the Passion and the actual Stations of the Cross.  The Thirteenth Station in the provided online version has the line "He has fallen into God's hands".  This line meant so much to me as I read it.  Throughout all of the events associated with the Passion, Jesus had to ultimately surrender to God.  From His praying in the Garden that the Father's will be done to His actually accepting the injustice given Him at His trail and the carrying of the instrument of His death, Jesus had to choose to let this occur.  He was constantly surrendering to His all loving Father. Little by little he fell into the hands of God in each of these steps so that when ultimately He breathed His last he totally fell into the hands of God.  The word 'falling' implies that one has let go and is not directing the movement.  Jesus as well as we need to let go and trust God's plan.  What a marvelous reception awaited Jesus as he let Himself fall into the hands of God - the God that loved Him so much that he raised him from the dead and glorified Him forever.
Week 28: I'm doing the Stations of the Cross this week. I've haven't wanted to do them in the past--it's too painful to see so much suffering and to think that it is for my sake. I am uncomfortable looking at the consequences of evil--the suffering and the agony. It makes me want to look away, to concede that I'm helpless to make a difference, to change anything. But this week I felt drawn to the Stations of the Cross for these very reasons and I wondered what would happen to me as I did them.
 
I am finding that what is important is to be present with Jesus as he suffers--to offer my love and my presence, my sadness at his pain--and that it is enough. I am there with him. And because of this I think that I may learn to be present with others who suffer because of evil- I may learn not to allow the consequences of evil to make me feel helpless and impotent. I don't want to turn away, or to go away. Maybe just being present with love and compassion is enough.
I was most struck this week by two things:The first was a comment in the Stations of The Cross that accompanied this weeks readings.  In the past when I am praying over Simon’s forced assistance to Jesus, I have focused on Simon’s heart and soul. Herein, the contemplation that accompanies the station comments about the suffering Jesus may have endured by needing help. This is an important insight I had not considered.  Jesus had to overcome the temptations associated with guilt and shame during this encounter. In the gospels Jesus always seemed to be in control, but here he is helpless.  This encounter must have been one more nail in the mental suffering of His crucifixion experience.  Furthermore, it must have also hurt Jesus to cause another person to suffer for him. This must have been especially difficult for Jesus when his mental state was so fragile from the torture. He had to overcome temptations concerning an injustice against him and Simon as he took on the burden our sins.

The second thing that struck me this week was the horrifying picture I had on my desktop all week. I could not wait to get rid of this picture of two partially naked and tortured women with their hands wired behind their backs. Looking at the picture, I spent the entire week realizing that at every minute of every day some…many persons are being tortured and abused. I know that as I sit here at my computer in my nice home some poor souls are hungry and lonely in some dark, prison hole; some other poor souls are being tortured; some other poor souls are starving; others are being sexually abused, and others mentally abused. The constant reminder of this is unpleasant, but it did help me see Christ’s pain and made me more socially responsible.  I pray that the death of Our Lord and the Holy Spirit he unveiled by means of his death will comfort these persons. I am humbled by the brutality of my species. It is only through Christ’s example that I find any hope that the cruel ones will overcome their twisted values and find peace as did St. Paul.
O my goodness, How I abhor violence and witnessing such cruelty as the 'passion' pictures from El Salvador! As I am a passenger in the car driving along the autumn freeway on a most magnificent day in Perth West Australia I contemplate the pain and sacrifice and cruelty on this day. Your presence is nearby, Dear  Lord!


Week 28 has challenged me as I meditate on Christ's suffering in his passion.  I cringe as I read the scriptures  and I hold back from entering fully into the meditations as I realize you were dragging my sins to the cross.  To enter into your sufferings, even in my imagination, is overwhelming.  What fear you must have felt.  What a temptation it must have been to use your power to avoid the pain.  How alone you must have felt as your friends deserted you.  Forgive me Lord Jesus for those times when I have been ungrateful for your sacrifice for me; for the times I have denied you and deserted you.  Thank you Lord Jesus for your forgiveness and thank you for your great love.

Thank you for this wonderful site, I found it by the grace of God. I have a disability and have not been out of my home since October, waiting for a ramp to be built for my electric wheelchair, I think it will be soon. I have missed going to Mass although I watch it on TV. This site has given me a way to make a retreat that otherwise would be impossible, the Stations of the Cross are also a blessing and help me feel more connected to the Body of Christ. I have chosen to begin the retreat on week 28 since I feel a deep connection to the rhythm of the liturgical year . Thank you, thank you and God bless you!

Week 29


Today, the loaves are multiplied. He advises His disciples to bring what they have. He blesses the food and all are fed. Lord help me to remember to bring all that I have, to seek your blessing that my resources may be multiplied. Today He has also stopped Saul in his tracks, and called on Ananais to lay his hands on for a blessing, a healing and a commissioning of mission. Lord help me to accomplish what You have sent me here for. Nothing else will suffice. -Week 29


I found Father Gillick's instruction just to sit at the foot of the cross and to share very powerful for me this week. My reflections fell into three chunks. The first, I found myself at the core of the pain on the cross. Jesus is incapacitated, nailed down, unable to move. I panic at being tied down. I can't even bear to have the dentist keep my mouth restrained having root canal surgery. I feel claustrophobic at the idea of being tied down. Why? I have to be in control? But do I? Can I give into God? Why do I have to be the center of my life? Can't I recognize God in the center and give thanks for the times that this has been healing and transforming and recognize the depths of darkness that He still wants to penetrate in me and especially in the larger world. Can I really feel along with the deep fear of restraint and the darkness of surrounding sin that this can be unbound and overcome by the great love which He transfers on that Cross to all of us?
Then I go back to what the what the centurion saw that I reflected on last week. Jesus finally declares, "It is completed" "It is finished". I contemplate my own mortality ... What will I be thinking of when I say "it is completed"? I find that this puts perspective on all that I find irritating and my pre-occupations. I find that practically as I plan my week for work and home that having this in my background thoughts puts a very different perspective on that exercise. Many times I have felt a disconnect when I do that exercise with my day-to-day spiritual contemplations. Today I felt otherwise.

The third theme I came back to this week was in thinking how to integrate any event in my everyday life with what is happening on the Cross. As it happens I encounter a problem which I know could loom into something bigger. But as a contemplate the meaning of the Cross at the Holy Week services I recall all the previous darkness I faced and also all the big problems I have encountered and how I prayed and how God had been present. God is present and wants to be ever more present in our lives. May I be a carrier of His presence for others.-Week 29

Oh, boy, what a day! Since beginning this chapter, I’ve asked the question, “how does Jesus’ death set me free in the real world, in the very reality of my day to day life?” I know at the end of my earthly life his death sets me free, and in addictions and sin, but how else, right now, right here? How so in our diminishment and difficulties with others? An answer hadn’t come yet.

Today I was facing reprimand at work. Prior to going into the office for the meeting, I spent the afternoon at the beach contemplating Jesus’ death. Trying to get close to it and him. Trying to feel safe with it, him, and all that transpired. Trying to imagine and be there – connect to it fully. I bathed myself in his words and in the scenes from the Bible by listening to my Bible audio app and looking at artistic depictions, feeling the sun and sand, looking out at the water, and listening to the waves. I held myself in song with Jesus; a variety of songs that help me relate to his death and love. By the time it was time to go to the office, Jesus was at the center and forefront of my heart. He was my cloak too. I was free for the most part and unattached to the world. I put my trust in him. Additionally, by spending time with Jesus’ Passion in the weeks gone by, I didn’t feel alone in what I was facing. I didn’t feel alone in my suffering. Plus, my time spent praying the Sorrowful Mysteries when I was in the Rosary group helped me relate and handle things with humbleness, dignity, and truth.

I came to the realization that in approaching the reprimand I shouldn’t make it about proving myself right or pointing blame. I shouldn’t defend my position or actions. All I could do was live in truth and light by knowing who I am and whose I am, and let my actions/response be kind and receptive. There is freedom in all that too. I asked Jesus to be my robe of attitude, to let his compassion shine forth from me. “Let them see you, not me, Lord.” I can be self-righteous, judgmental, unforgiving, and demanding. “Help me be meek and humble. Help me be silent when silence is called for. Help me speak up when it is right to do so.” I was able to release the need to defend myself, release any anger or judgment I had against people and things, and release the fear I had about losing my job. I approached the meeting in peace. When my heart began to beat fast in anticipation of something bad, I reassured it by saying, Jesus is my heart, he is here. And my anxiety decreased. I was able to say, “Jesus, I trust you. Whatever the outcome today, I will be okay.” I also realized the people I was meeting with (the management team) were just as human and naked as me. If what Julian of Norwich (inRevelations of Divine Love) says is true, God does not look on us with disgust and his mercy extends to the whole world, then all of us in the room needed love and mercy, not just me. Surely if God does not look upon me with disgust neither should I look on others in that way.

In the meeting I was able to take responsibility for my strengths and weaknesses. I didn’t get fired. It was a pleasant meeting for the most part. I’m still not thrilled about the game of life – the world’s way and game. Accordingly, I am expected to view everybody as my ‘customer’ and be more ‘customer friendly,’ which will not be easy for me. I used to be such a people pleaser. When I gave that up, I went to the other side of the spectrum it seems. I don’t schmooze very well. I’m not rude or nasty, but I’m going to give it to you straight and factual like, as I see it (which I can admit isn’t always right). I know I can be quite frank. According to the management team, I need to work on coming off as more empathetic to my ‘customers’ and paint a more ‘customer pleasing’ picture. The ‘customer’ here being the referral source – and ultimately the money and profit. Okay, but I’m a nurse not a salesman – the patient is my customer – the patient gets my empathy and pleasing – other players (like referral sources) don’t get my empathy so much. I will work on it. Not because they are my customers or profit, but because God has compassion on the whole world and wants us to be neighborly. Lord, help me be neighborly.

I don’t know if I’m getting across here in my words or experience how it is that Jesus’ death sets me free in my everyday life. I just know the experience I had today showed me so. I was able to see how loved I am, which helped me know who I am. Being faithful to Jesus helped me act and be accordingly. It changed the meaning of life for me, which changed me inside and out. I was free to act as God’s child as best I could and let go of the outcome. I have yet to imagine how it is to feel safe at the foot of the cross, but I caught glimpses of it at the beach today. I will pray with it more tomorrow. Thank you, Jesus, for today (and every day). Thanks for having my back and my heart! -Week 29


Oh, Jesus, how is it that you treat me so sweetly? I recognized your gaze upon me as we began Adoration this eveningJ Such peace and love you brought to meJ I gazed back at you a little bit before I had to hang my head in humility for the gift. I still cannot meet your eyes during your sorrow or Passion, but maybe some day, right? I came to understand some things tonight.

Thank you for John, your beloved disciple (?). I was able to follow you all the way to your death and into the tomb. I won’t put the experience to words or story. (I am grateful to St Ignatius for helping us use all our senses to enter your story. Dare I say I am grateful for my experience as a hospice nurse too, which brings your experience to clear reality for me?) In order for me to imagine it safe there at the cross, rather than violent, I had to put all else and others outside the scene and moment (except for John, BVM, and MM). When your death was complete, it was words from the Gospel of John that comforted and consoled me, especially chapters 16 and 17. I imagined myself in turn comforting Mary of Magdalene (MM) there at your death.

Through contemplation I came to comprehend faith and trust more fully. I remembered back to when you left me there on my own cross, when I panicked and became disheartened because you left me, even after calling out to you. Tonight I came to understand, you may leave me bodily (physically). I may not feel or ‘see’ your presence, but I can trust in your words as potrayed in the Gospel of John. Sometimes I might feel an absence. In those moments I need to trust and wait for the Spirit, who will come and give me what I need. (And I can always ask God our Father directly tooJ who is always there for us as he was for you and the Israelites.) You ask me to pause and wait, as the disciples and the community awaited your resurrection without comprehension or foresight of how it would come about or be, to adore and own the mystery (like Julian conveys to us to do J).

When I asked you and the Holy Spirit for a Scripture passage tonight, I opened my Bible to the preface to the New Testament. LOL. Good one, Lord! As if to ask, do I trust you, will I wait for you. Yes, yes I do and will. It was in peace and calm that I closed my Bible, leaving it up to you, rather than demanding or striving for something more from you tonight. That was an experience in letting go and alignment of will; as a weaned child in her mother’s lapJ. The experience resonates even more within me when I think of what author J Brian Bransfield describes in his bookThe Human Person According to John Paul II – “The perfect storm told us that to be a person we mustacquire pleasure quickly; the opposite is the truth: to be a person we must not acquire butgive, we must not acquire pleasure, but give beauty, we must not acquire pleasure quicklybut give beauty slowly.” Jesus, thank you for being the perfect lover! Your gift of slow beauty is something deeper and truer than I have ever known. I am even coming to see and know the beauty of the cross, your Passion and death. Let me not forget what Bransfield also says about the new evangalization, “…it is a relationship… communion with Christ… Truth is not an abstract opinion, but a divine Person, Jesus Christ.” Thank you for calling me to a personal relationship with you, and for all your servants along the way that help me. Help me grow to maturity to become one with you and your servants, to become one who may give the gift of slow beauty as wellJ (What discipline, what surrender it will take, but I am not alone. It is a new experience for me – to not feel so alone.)

Sweet Jesus, you really are my faithful friend! I feel you in my heart. I feel you as a part of my heart. Like united together. Truly a part of one another. It is very real! It is such a treasure. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it could be or feel this way. Thank you. I struggle Lord. I struggle to follow you and God’s design. I struggle to let go of self centeredness. Please forgive me. Please help me on the way. I would like to remain in this chapter of RRW until the end of the week. I want to spend time with you yet in your death when I am able to pray at Julian House. Okay? Will our eyes meet? Give me strength and courage, if you want it to be so. (Help me remember Father Bob’s lyrics from his songBe Not Afraid – “You shall see the face of God and LIVE!”)

Goodnight, Lord, I love you <3 -Week 29


Good Friday. Just completed the stations and am utterly wrung out. Massive privilege to have shared so many viewpoints of those involved. Left with a sense of The beloved Disciple and the responsibility that 2000 years later we are the beloved Disciple. Getting my head round it.I am at the foot of the cross.  I am the only one around.  It is very  quiet, calm, still and cool.  The ground is very dry and dusty; I feel the cool dryness on the ground and in the air.  I tentatively reach out and touch the cross.  It is very dry and rough and cool.  I don't dare to reach out and touch your foot, Lord.  I feel too scared - to touch the foot of God!  But somehow I know that it's ok, and I slowly inch my hand forward, and touch you.  Your foot feels slightly warm, but cooling down, rough and dry.  As soon as I register this, I see that the landscape is changing; the cool grey dustiness is starting to fill with colour!  Oranges, pinks, greens, warmth, plants, living things, the whole world comes alive, everything is different.  Lord, is this my life with you, compared to the sterile dead greyness without you?  Thank you Lord for bringing me back to life!
--Penny from England


Week 29:
I remember when I was a kid more so on Good Friday during Holy Week,  we were not allowed to take a bath.  Sacrifice said my Mom.  No meat.  Sacrifice.  No going to the beach.  Sacrifice.  I didn't quite get it but we followed.  Little did I know that these small inconveniences so to speak will prepare us for great inconveniences we will experience when we become adults.  But these sacrifices which we undergo now have a whole new meaning to me.  They  lighten the load of the cross which Jesus is carrying for me.  Remember Simon the Cyrene?  He carried the cross for Jesus.  In a way,  we are also carrying His cross when we undergo suffering so that HE could have a breather. 

So the next time we are caught in a traffic,  let's not curse the reckless and inconsiderate drivers in our midst,  let's offer that cross to Him so that on His way to calvary His load would be lighter.  The next time somebody gave you a menacing glance,  let's not grab him by the throat and kill him.  Instead,  let's control our temper and offer it to HIM who offered paradise to the thief who believed in Him.  The next time our old mom forgets to turn-off the light,  let's be more considerate to her and offer it to HIM who gave us His mother to take care of.  So many chances of lightening His load.  Let's start counting.

He died for us so that we could live.  How can we do the same to others?
-- Tet


Week 29:  This was a hard week for me.  I am moved to tears thinking and writing all this.  I have been told that the whip used to scourge Jesus was called a "cat-of-nine-tails".  Each leather strap of the whip, and there were 9 straps, had a metal fitting on the end of it, which ripped skin off of the person.  I also remember when Mel Gibson made The Passion, in the scourging scene there was a board across the actors back that could not be seen.  The actor doing the whipping missed the board and actually hit the actor playing Jesus.  The actor who had been whipped fell to his knees stunned and out of breath.  The camera kept rolling and you can see the pain on his face.  This is only one scourge.  How could Jesus stand the many licks given to him and keep silent when He was innocent.  I have no answer.

The crowning of thorns, these were several inches long and it would be like needles stuck in His head.  OUCH!

Then there is the Crucifixion.  I cannot see how one human can do such a thing to another.  I was told the nails could not go through the hands because the  nails were like "railroad spikes" and the weight of the body would have torn through the hands.  People were nailed through the wrists and the ankle were crossed and nailed one on top the other with the knees in a bent position.  So a crucified person could not get comfortable at all.  The knees are permanently bent, ankles crossed, and on top of this Jesus cannot even lay His head back because of the thorns, and His back is all torn to shreds.  And because of the positioning of the body, in order to breathe the body must be pulled up to take a breath each time.

All this for me.   Why?  because He loved that much.  He took away my sins.  He conquered all of our fears, inadequacies, our ailments, our sicknesses, the troubles we have in aging, our difficulties with bosses or co-workers, or difficult family members, aging parents or friends, death, abortion, the persecution of the church and her leaders.  He became one of us-truely human.  He carried it all.  He knows our inner feelings, pain, our strivings.  We recognise in Christ the best- what we are striving for.  He became like us and bore all to show us how to live and live well.  That is why we follow His leading.

Marie in Illinois


Week 29

Feel life slipping by;
quickly busyness drains us.
Does new life enter?

-Ellen E. H.


Week 29. Holy Week 2011.

A personal Good Friday reflection.

I must remain silent now for Love is speaking.


My Reflections on Week 29
Jesus dies for us
Luke 23:26-56
John 19:16-42
Psalm 31
I imagine being Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I heard about the trial of Jesus and came to see what’s happening here. Oh, Jesus looks so weak and exhausted, in a lot of pain. Why did they put a crown of thorns on his head? It must be so painful! Blood drops are falling down on his face. What have they done to Jesus? That’s not fair! He has never done harm to other people, but only helped them! He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that!
Memories come back of times when Jesus visited me, my brother Lazarus and sister Martha in our house. We loved his visits and I know he enjoyed visiting us, too. He has been a good friend to us. Martha used to be busy cleaning the house, cooking and looking after Jesus’ physical needs, but I just sat by his feet, my eyes glued to his mouth and face, drinking in each word that he shared with us. It always warmed my heart when I listened to Jesus’ teaching. He had such wise words to say about God and what it means to follow him.
I can’t believe this is happening to Jesus! Has he ever told us that something like this would happen to him? I can’t remember … Oh, now he’s falling! He just doesn’t have any strength. I want to help him, but those soldiers are beside him and lead him along the way.
Oh, a cross, they seriously want to nail him to the cross!! I want to run up to the soldiers and take away the nails and shout at them: “What are you doing here? That’s not fair! Jesus is innocent; he doesn’t deserve to be crucified! You obviously don’t know him, but I do! Let him go free – now!” But I can’t as they won’t listen to me anyways. Who am I? Just a woman and they don’t know me. I feel angry and upset about the people who gave him that death sentence and punish him now. It’s really not fair! I want to shout at them and punch them, but I can’t. They won’t listen to me or change their minds anyways. So I just need to suffer along with Jesus.
I can hardly watch when they put the nails in his hands and feet. Ouch! That must hurt incredibly! I cover my face with my hands as I can’t stand seeing this. This makes me feel weak and sick in my stomach. And now they pull the cross up! Oh, I just can’t imagine how painful this must be for Jesus. I glance at this face, but he’s looking down and breathing heavily. Each breath must take so much strength. And the pain must be immense as his body hangs on the nails. I keep on praying to God: “Please either rescue Jesus or let him die soon so he doesn’t need to suffer so much. Give him the strength to endure this and easen his pain.” I don’t want to talk to the people that are standing around me; I’m just taken up with Jesus’ suffering.
Now and then, between breathing heavily, he says something. He says to John that he should take care of his mother and told his mother that John would be like a son to him. Even despite immense pain Jesus still looks out for people around him and cares for others. Later he says that he’s thirsty, then a soldier touches his mouth with a wet sponge. Then the two men that are hanging on the crosses beside him say something. I just focus in on Jesus’ response to one of them: “Today you’ll be in paradise with me.”
I’m just standing there until the end when Jesus calls out: “Father, I commit my spirit into your hands.” Then he breaths again and dies. Is it all over now? I’m so sad as I remember all the times we spent with him and all he told us. A few people take his body down from the cross. I also go near to see his body, so lifeless. It reminds me of Lazarus after he died. But a few days later Jesus visited us and raised him back to life which was an incredible miracle! A sign of hope raises up in my heart. Will God do the same for Jesus? Will he also raise him from the dead? God can do anything, I know.
I go back home with a mixture of thoughts and feelings in my mind and heart. I would never have thought that Jesus would end up dying like this – too early, he was still so young. But I’ll always treasure the words in my heart that he shared with us, hold on to them and not forget them. They really were words of life that helped my faith in God grow.


Week 29: My thoughts have been scattered this week. Crucifixion, gore, grace, sorrow, gratitude, others, me. The readings here and elsewhere have helped me be aware of how easy I put myself in the center of need and exclude others. Reality. The reality of Jesus' teaching, suffering, and death for us, for me. All this for others and for me.

I realize how minor what I consider slights to me; the miniscule "suffering" I experience because of others.
Most of the time since the early 70's I have avoided watching TV and/or reading news of war, disasters, torture, and murders.

When I have, whether fact or fiction, the content disrupts my psyche. I worry. I am drenched in fear. I have not improved in this area. Jesus felt the stress, the cruelty, and the pain and he continued to trust the Father. That is a call to me. Trust. Jesus could have stayed home and never started his ministry.  Can I venture out and trust? Age is sweet in many ways. Sad in others. I pray that I can accept age as Jesus accepted his suffering. That I can trust in God.

As I reflect, I believe the grace for me this week has been realizing the power of trust. Jesus modeled trust in God.
--Joe


Week 29: I find it quite easy to run away from the Cross. I don't find it easy to be with the crowd jeering although I can recognise them. But I'm moved this week when I put myself with Mary and the small band of supporters. I let the phrase "this is for me" penetrate. I resist the temptation to ask "Why me?". As Dietrich Bonhoeffer phrased it, "The liberating ting about Good Friday and Easter is that one's thoughts turn far away from one's personal life, suffering and everything that happens, and one clings to a great hope". Each day I pray the prayer of St Frances de Sales, "Lord, I give you this day. I give you all the good I will do and I promise to accept for the sake of your love all the difficulties I will encounter. Lord, my life is in your hands. Please let this day give you praise." Often ask myself if I can avoid the difficulties. Now I understand at a deeper level why I must accept them.


Week 29: The death of Christ on the Cross-I pondered and prayed this image all week. Memories came to mind of the many times this image was forced on me as a child – with arrogance. Pounded into me was the teaching that suffering was good for me. This died today. Catherine of Siena uses the image of a gentle mirror to describe Jesus’ death on the cross. THIS is the only way I can approach the cross – leaning into it, into the sacred heart of blood and water, the compassionate heart broken open where I dwell – like the beloved disciple leaning on Jesus’ breast at the last
supper. I draw sustenance from the heart and breast of this man of gentle strength, who remained faithful to his mission of gathering all of humanity into the Father’s heart.
-- Anita
Week 29: Lord, As I look at you lifeless I am standing beside Thomas ... we see you wounded ... lanced ... now all is quiet and I wonder like Thomas ... was it worth it? I try to make sense of it. How can this be our promise? How could this be for me?
Dreams of greatness ... promise ... winning ... crucified ... finally lanced through.
Then I think of the word "freedom". What does this mean here? I see freedom from impediments ... my sins ... freedom for ... victims of war ... freedom from poverty ... violence.
But I cannot accept the helplessness ... yes I believe intellectually but with Thomas I go away to understand some more.
Then I visit with Thomas the upper room. As he plunges his fingers into Jesus' side he realises that yes this was for me and yes this is for freedom ... but freedom is transformed ... it's not my power that will win ... but my powerlessness; not my smarts ... but mercy flowing from Jesus on the Cross.
Lord, be with me in these areas of my life where I am powerless. Through your mercy flowing through me ... let them be transformed.
Week 29: When I was young I always imagined that Jesus actually had magical powers, and this enabled him to endure the suffering on the cross easier than us mere mortals could have done. However as an adult I realise that he was sent by his father as a mere human. Therefore he suffered the same pain that we would suffer if that was done to us. As human's our natural instinct to run away from danger, surely Jesus must have felt like this as he walked along carrying the cross. When the nails were driven through his hands the pain must have been as excruciating for him as it would be for us. I hope that understanding the pain that Jesus suffered, enables me to appreciate better what Jesus did for us - hopefully it will inspire me to suffer a little bit of pain for God.
-- Alan, Belfast
greetings from nell on tweed. the end of week 29. and again i am short of words. as i wrestle with the images and concepts of Calvary. i could feel the pieta grief of a mother and the devastating love of a mother for an adult son. but still i seem a little lost and seem to be missing an understanding that others seem to have. i would take longer over the week - but life dont go that way. death comes when it comes and i think i will miss even more of the sense of this if i dont go with the rhythm of the retreat as it is presented . the only words which come to my mind are some i read which said ONLY A SUFFERING GOD WILL DO. love to you all.
-- Nell.
I see myself as Joseph of Arimathea. Oh how difficult that final Council of Jewish Leaders had been. I had tried to argue along with Nicodemus that there was no evidence to convict this man Jesus. Actually, it wasn’t just that there was no evidence. For some time I felt myself attracted to his teachings. Yes he challenged me to the core. Were my beliefs and what I was doing really consistent with the God of Creation whom we worshipped? Were my practices really self-serving? There is so much need around me... yet I go by it each day. I am very good at finding the intellectual argument that prevents action. I am very good about thinking about my own desires first … sometimes these are banal … other times quite profound. But nevertheless I ignore God’s call to love those around me. In the Council, this became even more apparent. Rather than leap to his defense by going to the core of the argument and why we were really here … because all of us felt the same challenge, I let Caiaphas remind us of the pragmatism of our case. I got into pragmatic arguments. It was easy to lose and frankly the Council also stirred up quite a bit of emotion among those outside. I became afraid. I saw the potential for ridicule. Worse, I saw the potential to lose my comfortable position. I caved in and supported the rest of the Council.But it bothered me. I contrasted the Man we ridiculed and allowed to be cruelly beaten with the Man I observed … the Man who engaged children … the Man who reached out to the poor and outcasts … the Man who transformed lives. Then I went out with everyone else to the place where the crucifixion was taking place. Most of the onlookers were curious. Some of them, including some of my colleagues from Council, continued to ridicule Jesus. But most of us just watched from a distance. Even from far away I could see what terrible agony he was in. All of us could see. Most people were repelled by this sight. We came to realize that he did not deserve this. We are torturing to death a man just because he loved and because of that challenged us. This is too much. Too much pain and most people went away sickened and determined to forget. The crowd had gotten out of hand. Tomorrow hopefully we can get back to normal. But I know there is no normality now. As the crowd departs I get closer to the Cross. I see His mother there with a few more women and one of his disciples. I see how lovingly he still talks to his mother and how in her grief she looks at Him and understands what he is doing even though she clearly grieves for him. I see him forgive one of the terrorists who are crucified with him and I see how finally he gives himself up totally to God the Father. At that moment, I knew I had to change. I went to see Nicodemus who had not bothered to go to the hill. He was so upset. We went together to Pilate’s office but I went in and asked for the body. By this time I did not care what anyone else in Council said. I may have been too late to save him but I am determined tomorrow will not be a return to “normalcy”. Nicodemus and I go back to the hill and help the women extract his tortured and beaten body from the cross. We hastily clean it and wrap it in cloth. Nicodemus has brought some burial spices. Probably this is not enough, but we must respect Him and we need out of that respect to bury him before the Passover is to begin. There is an empty tomb close by and at least we know we can bury him there at least for the short run. The women follow us … still grieving.As I place him in the tomb I allow his mother to kiss him one final time. I see the love in her eyes. I talk with her. I tell her that I am sorry. I should have done more. Then she quietly tells me … speaking still in her grief … that she appreciates this but I should know that this was not in vain … this was for me. So that is how I became his disciple. No more pragmatism … no more selfishness … God will work through me … even though these patterns are difficult to change. I in turn will live first to serve God … love God … returning his great love for me. God will help me complete whatever mission he has for me. There is no shortage of people needing his love.
Much as I have tried I cannot fathom Jesus being crucified. How could he have stood being nailed to a cross. If you have ever experienced a deep cut or a stab wound can you possibly imagine having a nail driven throuh your hand!!
It is truly mind boggling. And all so we have a chance to someday join him.
As I read again the sufferings of Jesus, suddenly the thought of how heavy that cross must have been - carrying the sins of the world on His shoulders! Though Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother, was not carrying a wooden cross as her son Jesus, the cross she carried must have been just as heavy - watching the sufferings of her only son, Jesus. Realizing all the sufferings Jesus endured for my sins causes me to never want to stumble again, but because I am merely a human, not yet perfect, I know there may be times when I will stumble. Like Jesus, each time we stumble, we must get up and keep going until we come into the fullness of life and are in heaven with Jesus, Mary, and all the saints who persevered to the very beginning of the end. Week 29 and continuing.
Week Twenty-nine of the Retreat called us to reflect upon the death of Jesus.  Thinking about not only the moment of the death of Jesus but also the feelings that must have come in the moments, hours, and days after his death caused me to think about the feelings and thoughts that I have had surrounding the death of some special people.  I was particularly remembering the calling hours and funerals of a retired Bishop of my Diocese and of some priests who have passed from this world.  I thought of their lifeless hands in the coffin that had accomplished a mission and how those hands had administered the sacraments and blessings in life but would no longer do so in this world.  I thought of the tender moment when I laid my hand on the cold lifeless hand that a few years earlier was laid on me in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  As I ponder this, I recognize that while there is a sense of sadness, there is also the fact that these people touched my life in ways that continue on.  They fulfilled their mission that God gave them in life by bringing Christ to me and countless others.  The effects of their lived mission will spread on through time in this world and into the next.  It makes me wonder if those who had known Jesus in His earthly life were not only saddened but also somewhat glad and joyful that He had touched them in this life in many ways. What He had done in life did not die with His earthly body but laid the foundation for the future of countless people.
Week 29: The readings for this week incorporated more aspects of Jesus’ torture, but I mentally did not. Last week I focused on the abuse, but this week I unconsciously separated the death and dying from the victimization. I needed this I think because it added dignity to death and brought peace. I think Jesus, Mary, and John were able to let go of the abuse and see the transition of death. In Christ’s case, the peace of death is particularly beautiful since he died for my redemption. And as the blood of redemption and the water of baptism flow from his side I am awed that by dying he triumphed over death.
Week 29, and I feel lost. Not lost to the Lord, but in the sense that I have to wonder why I continue to worry so. If my faith were strong, worry would be a thing of the past. Yet here I am, and here it is. The ‘end’ of this retreat is but a few weeks away for me, and I am only beginning. In 1983 I started using a little book titled “My Daily Bread” by Anthony Paone, SJ. You read one short chapter each day. That book leaves me feeling as I do now. I have been through the book many times since then, and each time, as I approach the end, I know I must begin again. I have so far to go on my faith journey. I am not sure what I will do when I reach the last week of this retreat, but I know that I must do it again some time. Reflecting on Christ’s death, as we do this week, leaves me all the more confounded with myself. I know what He has done for me. How can doubt and fear remain? But they do. I pray this week, as always, for an increased faith and for diminished doubt and fear.
The contemplation is certainly deepening my awareness of  God's presence in my daily activities!  I was dozing in my favourite lounge chair after a hard day's night and a favourite piece of music St. Matthew's Passion by Bach lifted me into the background and foreground of the passion of Christ. I  felt a distinct  gift of peace in the knowledge that the good lord has given us a powerful means through music to reach him in prayer. PRAISE GOD !!!!


In week 29 I ponder the meaning of Christ's crucifixion and realize that I cannot grasp the depth of His love for me and the Father's love for me. All I can do is sit in awe and gratitude and try to soak in this love.  His love is greater than my sinfulness.  The wounds I have inflicted on my own soul through my sin, the wounds inflicted on my soul through the sins and thoughtlessness of others - these are all healed.  He bore these on the Cross!  It's too much for me to comprehend!

I printed out the text of the Stations of the Cross (29) and took them to church on Good Friday afternoon.  The phrase "This is for me" resounded throughout my prayer. This retreat  led me to realize all this happened to a friend rather than to a distant historical figure.  I was left with an immense feeling of gratitude.  As we enter this Easter season, I hope my awareness of this friendship continues to grow.

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