There is something about the juxtaposition of death and life in Holy Week that seems to be mirrored in these times, against a world landscape of events where it is as if the stability and certainly of all things that we took for granted ‘as always being there’ is being pushed to its limits.
I had a conversation with a colleague this morning and we shared the poignancy and emotion of watching the destruction of Notre Dame with its Christian, cultural and emotional symbolism touching us to our very core.
I have seen the variety of images and interpretations of this event by journalists on social media with their many very moving images. However, there are two images that resonate the most with me – that of the moment when ‘la fleche’ (the spire) ablaze, fell into the nave of the Cathedral and the other – that image of the cross that remains, shining out from the debris and destruction, almost as if deliberately placed in that light beam.
This contributes to the realisation that everything changes, and yet nothing changes at all.
We are certain of the Resurrection. We know we can rely on it to reveal itself in every possible aspect and experience of our lives. It is true that at times we can get all caught up in the details of life, and while these can be valuable pointers to a deeper truth, we are asked to take the time this Holy Week to be with all those ‘at the foot of the Cross’ who knew how to wait in the certainty of death becoming life.
The women at the foot of the Cross
In the traumatic aftermath of the New Zealand massacre I read these quotes from Jacinda Adern:
“I am here today to bring with me the grief of all New Zealand,” she said. “I am here to stand alongside you… We feel grief, we feel injustice, and we feel anger.”
“We each hold the power, in our words and in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness,” she says. “We are not immune to the viruses of hate, of fear, of other. We never have been. But we can be the nation that discovers the cure.”
Ardern says. “Very little of what I have done has been deliberate. It’s intuitive. I think it’s just the nature of an event like this. There is very little time to sit and think in those terms. You just do what feels right.”
And yet Ardern’s response, her choice of language, has mattered enormously to so many people.
It seems that especially at this time (in this particular life experience we share) that Holy Week is the opportunity we really need to take, to know how to wait for God, not to rush. A time to understand our own powerlessness. ‘To let God’s graceful power work in us and our world, in its own time”.
It struck me too that those women whom we know of from scripture, who witnessed the appalling brutality of the crucifixion, show us also how to reflect and how to wait for God to act.
Closer to home, we know that Nano Nagle knew how to wait and trust in completing the work of God, amongst the overwhelming suffering of those around her and the daily challenges of life in her time.
“I began in a poor, humble manner; and though it please the divine Will to give me severe trials in this foundation, yet it is to show that it is His work, and has not been effected by human means”.
~ Nano Nagle writing to Eleanor Fitzsimons, 17 July 1769 – page 61, ‘Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism’ ‘Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism’
We have been reminded so many times in the past year of the vibrant and evolving legacy of Nano Nagle, through the vital and necessary work of Presentation people everywhere working with and alongside those ‘made poor’. As experiences of this life are shared with us from around the globe, where our Presentation people are, the evolution of this work in our times is becoming more and more about addressing the needs of ‘those kept poor’.
“What is ours to do”?
See also this link: Pathways to God – Women of the Cross