By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
We worship you, Lord,
We venerate your cross,
We praise your resurrection.
Through the cross you brought joy to the world.
--Good Friday Service1
The long journey of Lent culminates in these days we call Holy Week. We began these holy days triumphantly with Jesus as he entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9) welcomed and recognized for the Savior He truly is. However hard His enemies tried, no political power could stop the people from welcoming their true Savior: “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40).
We leave the comforts of Palm Sunday all too soon and enter deeply into the Passion of the Lord. The days of Holy Week parallel the life journey of every Christian Pilgrim. Each year, we walk with Jesus through the difficult days of His passion taking solace only in the glimpses of the great feast of Easter. Even though the painful burdens of Jesus' passion are overwhelming, He presses forward for love of us—a love that redeems us forever. In reliving Christ's final days on earth each Holy Week, we avail ourselves the opportunity to unite with Him in prayer. We mark the days with ritual, recollection and reflective prayer, which brings us to the heart of the message of God's holy will for each of us.
No matter how blessed we are, no matter how many the woes and burdens we face, the passion of Christ frees us all to live eternally with God. Jesus suffered, died, was buried and rose to new life for each of us. During these holy days, it might be good to ponder our own life's journey as we walk with Jesus through His passion. And so we pray:
Lord God, I am grateful for all of the times in my life when I am recognized as Your child, loved tremendously by You and treated as a temple. I am thankful, too, for the times I recognize and respect myself as Your Temple. I try to do all as you taught, and seek to find meaning in Your plan for me. I am humbled by the way You fully embraced the call to follow Your Father's will, despite the extreme difficulty in the facing the unknown. There are times in my life when I want to avoid the pain of my unwise decisions or the consequences of my actions. Continue to inspire me, sweet and gentle Jesus, that I might be but a fraction as accepting of the trials of my life as You were. Continue to shower me with the Graces I need to endure the difficulties of my life as graciously as You accepted Your trials, most especially as You were blameless in bringing them about.
Most loving Jesus, your life was one of total service to each and every man and women you encountered. Your desire for us to continue this service was made clear on this holy night. You left living bread for us to nourish our bodies, minds and souls as we journey our way home to You. Assist us on this beautiful night to be ever mindful of Your constant and loving presence in our lives. As we gather in Your holy presence, rekindle in us the desire to be of service to all those whom we encounter on our own journey. Remind us to be a servant first to those we love, beginning all charity at home. Inspire us with Your loving presence igniting in us the deep desire to bring Your love to all we meet, most especially the vulnerable among us. Make us “manna persons,” dear God, that we might feed all who meet us with Your word, comfort them with what they need and offer through our example, the desirous path to Your heart.
Good and loving Jesus, you suffered so much for love of me. I am so unworthy, and yet You gave all You had without so much as one word of protest or hesitation. So many times I have hesitated to follow the path You have chosen for me, denied you, conveniently forgotten Your love for me and added to Your burdens instead of lessening the yokes of others as you taught me. So many times I have taken Your agony and suffering for granted, acting like an entitled child. I am sorry. Forgive me, please. How I wish Your suffering were not so great because of me. Help me to see the way of my life more clearly. Help me to choose the path of peace and love that embraces forgiveness as a way of life. I love you, my Lord and Savior, and will never cease in continuing to follow Your holy will for me.
Throughout history you have lighted our path, dear God, and given us all that we needed. We sit with you in vigil as we prepare for the great gift of eternal life that You promised us. We relive our salvation history made possible only through Your goodness. Help us to see clearly the times in our lives when You were most with us, yet we doubted Your presence. Inspire us to see You in the persons, places and things You send our way as gifts of Your eternal love for us. Enlighten our path, good and gracious God, that we may find springs of life-giving and cleansing waters in the deserts of our lives. Quench our thirst for You, heal our brokenness and mend our hearts. Help us remember "The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, and brings mourners joy." (Exsultet)
1Good Friday: “Veneration of the Cross—Antiphon,” The Sacramentary.