By Bishop Gerald Barnes
It’s been written as a both a scientific fact and a poetic observance that the darkest hour of the night is just before the dawn.
In a spiritual sense this also speaks to the rhythm of the Holy Triduum that we will enter in a matter of days. The pain and desolation felt by our Lord Jesus in His Passion (Good Friday) gives way to the great victory of His rising from the dead (Easter Sunday) and with it the promise of our salvation.
When we enter this journey from darkness to light, we are invited to unite our own sufferings to those of the Lord Jesus as He died for us on the cross. To do this is to acknowledge the parts of our life that may be difficult to face; people who have hurt us, or people we have hurt, traumatic events, loss, threats to our health and safety, and any other difficult circumstances that we are living with.
While our faith calls us to live with joy and hope, it is a great misnomer that we as Christians deny or numb ourselves to pain and suffering based on our beliefs. In truth, it is our faith that allows us to walk through the trials and tribulations of our lives. The Lord, as they say, “never promised us a rose garden,” but He makes two commitments to us on this point: We will not endure our struggles alone; He is always with us. And, through His own sacrifice, at the end of our earthly days, we will be with Him in eternity. The pain ends and we are in perpetual light. Sound familiar?
These recent months have been an especially difficult time – both for our Universal Church, and for many in local parish, school and Diocesan ministry. The clergy sexual abuse crisis continues to cause great pain, unrest and serious questions among the faithful. Already in 2019, we have seen the death of three longtime, beloved priests of our Diocese, and three deacons who have served us faithfully. Several lay ministers in our Diocesan Pastoral Center have lost close family members. I, myself, am grieving the loss of two of my brothers, who both passed in the first weeks of March.
I know there are so many individuals and families out there grieving and suffering. I offer you my prayers as you carry your crosses, and I ask for your prayers as I carry mine. It is in this communal love and support that we help each other on the road to Calvary. Yes, we unite ourselves with the crucified Christ in our own sufferings, but we are also called to take on the roles of Simon and Veronica, recognizing the sufferings of our brothers and sisters and helping them in any way that we can.
Lent is drawing to a close, and the Holy Triduum is near. Let us use these liturgical light posts of our faith as we walk through the very real difficulties of our own lives, always looking to the horizon and our hope in the Resurrection.