Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

25 March 2005

The Pain and Pleasure of Good Friday

The Pain

The faith we call Catholic is a complicated balance. The Church requires that we fast and abstain from meat to remind us of the sacrifice of this solemn occasion. The Lord also requires we do our very best to hide this fast from the public:

"(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward."
"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."
Matthew 6:1-2,16-18

I have never been clear on how to manage Lent both being a Catholic and adhering to the injuctions in Matthew. Last year I felt as thought too many people were aware of my fasting, though I did not walk the halls announcing it. This year I had no specific plan. I was careful to do everything as normal, so there was nothing visible in my outward form. Yet I was adhering to a new plan while being completely unaware of it. On my way out of the house on Friday, I was saying goodbye to everyone when I mentioned to Tandy that I was heading out to the Cookie Jar for donuts for work. She laughed and asked me if this was my new plan to hide my fasting. I had no idea what she was talking about, but apparently she noticed I had done the same thing on Ash Wednesday. It appeared to work since only two people realized I was fasting on Friday.

The Pleasure

My youngest wanted to come to Mass with me on Good Friday. I never drag the kids to late or kid-unfriendly Masses, but I also never deny them. She was better than good, she was wonderful. We sat in the front pew so she could see everything. When she was bored the Triduum booklet had nice spots to color in (we always bring colored pencils). The homily was delivered by Deacon Steve Harnois, a homilist of such excellence that it must be a charism, a gift from God intended to aid in executing one's vocation. He told a story which is well worth repeating:

During Easter a minister was teaching about the meaning of Good Friday to a group of children. He asked them if anyone knew what happened on Good Friday. Like a shot little Eric's arm went up complete with "Ooh Ooh Ooh, me!" The minister called on Eric to explain what Good Friday was about. "Jesus is put into a grave, then three days later he comes out and goes back in again." The minister was happy but puzzled, "I know that Jesus comes out, but why does he go back in again?" Young Eric replied, "Because he didn't see his shadow."

Deacon Harnois used this story as an opportunity to remind us all that we can easily forget was Good Friday is about. The rest of the homily was just as supremely excellent and well integrated. No homiletics class taught him how to teach so well. My daughter enjoyed the remainder of the Mass especially the Adoration of the Cross. It is so rare for us to have a pleasurable quiet time together during the winter; this was a wonderful experience.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home