we must make time for silence
I have been ending dozens of emails a day this week with valedictions that sound like this:
With all best wishes for a peaceful Holy Week,
Here’s hoping that this threshold of Holy Week is accompanied by rest,
With my best wishes for a week marked by some silence at last,
All of my love to you during this silent, holy time,
– of course knowing full well that most of my interlocutors are in some form of church work and thus currently in various constellations of chaos. Orders of service must be printed. Music must be confirmed. Arrangements must be made for feasts and vigils and Tenebrae and the server schedule and the last minute switching of the lectors. Have you been practicing chanting the Solemn Collects for Good Friday? Lord knows I have. We’re all in the thick of it.
And so my best wishes for peace and prayer are likely landing in overcrowded inboxes. Wishful thinking, I suppose. A benediction, perhaps. Perhaps you even received one of my emails and thought, “we’re not in the convent anymore, friendo.”
Passiontide (the final two weeks of Lent) is the threshold of the Paschal Mystery. We are at the gate:
I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God
than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness.
It is here whereupon we stand at the doorstep of eternity. We are invited, as always, to come as we are, but I cannot help but sense that God hopes with such love for us to be wakeful, attentive doorkeepers. One who keeps vigil from the threshold keeps it best in silence. Holy Week is not meant to be a marathon, but a taking flight.
My parish celebrates daily Mass each week of the year and the full Tenebrae, Maundy, Good Friday, Vigil, Easter repertoire next week. I will preach several sermons and sing several Gospels and baptize three (!) souls into communion with the heart of Christ, and I wait with eagerness for all of this. But to do all this with gentleness and spirit, I need to be close to Jesus. I need to know his hands folded around mine in reassurance, his face pressed quietly against my own. I need to hear his voice and his voice alone beneath and around and beyond whatever singular thing I do or say in the midst of the Passiontide bedlam. I need him as I always need him: with all of the life and love I’ve ever known.
Holy Scripture invites us into contemplation of the Paschal Mystery in all times and seasons. We can approach the Cross whenever we wish. Jesus Christ and his journey toward Calvary sing within our prayers from the Morning Office through Compline during Easter, Advent, Ordinary Time, and even the days we least expect them.
But there is something precious about encountering the Cross of Christ in Holy Week. This is the time when the hinge of history turns again and tips us into the center of salvation. This is when everything, forever, is held between the outstretched hands of the Savior on the Rood.
Try your best to protect some silence in these next days. Close a door – of your bathroom or office or car – and turn the phone upside-down. A walk may do it. Perhaps a “meeting” on your calendar that is just for you and the Redeemer of the world. Kneel softly in an empty church or stand in the yard, late at night, when the children are in bed and the stars are waiting for you.
Prepare for a week of blessing, knowing that no matter what you do or who you are, it will come.
With all my best wishes for a peaceful Holy Week.
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