31 January 2014

A little Good Friday

Detail from the Church of San Maurizio, Milan
Just as the Church traditionally regards each Sunday as a "little Easter," so does she regard each Friday as a "little Good Friday," as a time for us to do penance for our sins and to contemplate the richness of the merciful love of Jesus Christ.  This can be done in any number of ways, because each of us has a different cross to bear in union with Him who died for us; our sharing in His Cross is different and personal.

The last couple of days in Rome have been filled with much rain, and the next few days are forecasted to deliver even more.  Strange as it may seem, it only takes a little rain to flood the streets of Rome.  Such a situation results in nearly empty streets as the Romans stay indoors, and with good cause; it is nearly impossible to walk in the rain in Rome and not become drenched from foot to head (the rain seems to work its way upwards from the hem of your pants).  The inch of rain that is expected to fall in Rome this morning has, according to some of the staff at the Casa Santa Maria, even shut down some of the bus lines in the Eternal City (and you thought things shutting down for snow and ice and freezing temperatures were bad!).

As a means to my sanctification, the Lord has seen fit to allow me to bear the cross that comes with an adult form or juvenile arthritis which on a day to day basis, with the aid of medication, does not give me too trouble.  The difficulty of it - the cross, if you will - comes with its unpredictability.

It happens from time to time that all will be going well and then suddenly, without any prior indication, my energy simple "bottoms out" with one single yawn.  I will sometimes be walking along with any trouble and suddenly my hip or my knee decides to take issue with my activity.  These are, thankfully, more frustrating than they are unbearable; still, they complicate life and sometimes require to me "shut down" for the remainder of the day, usually more because of exhaustion as my body wars against itself on my behalf than from pain.

Today I awoke with a great headache - one of the symptoms of my particular form of arthritis - sore hips, and a great exhaustion making mental concentration questionable at best.  I have taken care of the essentials of the day and will soon return to my bed for a bit of prayer, reading, and - hopefully - a good long nap to give my body the rest it tells me it needs; my tired bones do not enjoy the rain or the 93% humidity level in the air today.  Today is one of those days when the words of the prophet Isaiah come readily to mind: "Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees" (Isaiah 35:3).

If someone were to look upon me today, he likely wouldn't notice anything different, except perhaps a tired look to my face uncommon at 10:00 in the morning.  That's how it often is with the cross, isn't it?  It is a deeply personal sharing in the sufferings of Christ that others do not see or know, unless we share them with others.  Each of has our own cross the Lord invites us to carry; today, and every Friday, is a good day to remember that and to pray for one another.

Let us pray for one another this day, that each of us may carry our cross with joy and peace and so "complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Colossians 1:24).

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