Placing Christ in the Tomb St. Thomas of  Canterbury

Acting sometimes has a strange effect on me. Today is one such time. We are taking part in the Good Friday ecumenical Procession of Witness in Hastings Old Town. We pray and we witness the enactment of the Way of the Cross mostly out on the streets.

I feel disconnected from the early scene being acted out in the beautiful St. Clements Anglican Church. It seems untrue, unreal and the shouting too loud.

The shouting disturbs something unnamed in the pit of my gut, in the same way that the unanswered crying of a baby does. It's like something primal.

But it's no harm to be disturbed to the core when praying on the experience of the most awful suffering of that last day.

We're outside the church now and all of a sudden Jesus comes tumbling violently down the steps, like he was thrown. He lands flat on his back and the Cross has fallen on top of him. I have forgotten the acting now and have an almost overwhelming impulse to pick him up. Then i realize again that its a drama that doesn't need or want me to pick him up.

But it has shocked me to the core so much so that when it comes to my turn to lead a prayer I'm in a daze. My mouth doesn't open for a few seconds and my voice seems momentarily lost.

And to add to the drama it starts bucketing from the heavens. My pristine white alb, newly washed and pressed by Mary, gets soaked and so do all of us. David Giles goes off to get me an umbrella which I share with Fr. Sean, the young Anglican curate from St. Leonard's. He's a lot taller so he carries it. 

Apart from meeting Fr. Luke at my induction, I've had no contact with the Anglican clergy, so this was a blessed encounter. Lovely men - retired Canon Keith, Aelred who is an Anglican Cistercian monk, Fr. Sean, our own Deacon Duncan and myself. 

The crucifixion of Christ in Hastings Old Town. Good Friday, 30th March 2018.
All photographs Copyright of Malcolm Robinson.
Then we all return to our own places to prepare for the various liturgies of the Lord's Passion. In any part of the world this one of the most profound moments of prayer - when God and humanity are intimately connected in the experience of suffering. Here we understand each other.

As a priest the veneration of the Cross is very poignant as I observe the face of each person approaching the Cross.

"I kiss the Wounds of your Sacred feet..."

It came to me during the reading of the Passion according to John that I should share this prayer with the community. Normally I say nothing after the Passion because I believe silence is the most authentic response to the suffering of Jesus who embodies the suffering of all humanity. But today I prayed the prayer that I learned from Mrs. Anne Duggan in her Ardeen Nursing Home in Thurles many years ago.

I've already shared it on Facebook today and here it is again:

I kiss the Wounds of Your Sacred Head,
with sorrow deep and true,
may every thought of my mind today
be an act of love for You.

I kiss the Wounds of Your Sacred Feet,
with sorrow deep and true,
may every step I take today
be an act of love for You.

I kiss the Wounds of Your Sacred Hands,
with sorrow deep and true,
may every touch of my hands today
be an act of love for You.

I kiss the Wound of Your Sacred Shoulder,
with sorrow deep and true,
may every cross I bear today
be an act of love for You.

I kiss the Wounds of Your Sacred Heart,
with sorrow deep and true,
may every beat of my heart today
be an act of love for You.

After hearing confessions for an hour I left the church in silence to return to the silence of my house.

A spirit of holy quiet has descended upon me, the silence of the tomb, the silence of not knowing what comes next. There's no knowing what will happen but something will happen.

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